Hair to die for?

Panel warns of high levels of toxins in cosmetic hair treatment

A national cosmetics-review panel released an opinion recently asserting that formaldehyde levels in products should not exceed 0.2 percent for health reasons.

The report by the national Cosmetics Ingredient Review Expert Panel has prompted more criticism of Brazilian Blowout, a hair-straightening treatment that has been found to have a formaldehyde level of almost 12 percent, according to media reports.

The California company’s smoothing treatments came under fire last November when California’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer after hairdressers complained of burning eyes, trouble breathing and spontaneous nosebleeds. This is the first time California has sued to enforce toxic-chemical reporting requirements listed in the state’s Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005.

Several health and cosmetics organizations have demanded the U.S. Food & Drug Administration recall the product, but the FDA currently can issue only a voluntary recall. Those regulations will be revisited in the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011.