Hair relaxing solution may pose dangers

November 4, 2010 6:46:07 PM PDT
The latest sensation in hair care is the so-called Brazilian hair-relaxing treatments, but there appear to be potential dangers.

The process of converting frizzy or kinky hair into smooth locks produces significant fumes. It is believed the chemical reactions are triggered when the solution is heated during ironing and blow-drying the hair, necessary steps in the use of the product.

Complaints of nosebleeds, breathing problems and eye irritation led to lab tests by the occupational health agency in Oregon, which found significant levels of formaldehyde in Brazilian Blowout last month.

The hair-smoothing solution is marketed as a "formaldehyde-free" product, and an alternative to chemical straightening products. Formaldehyde is a recognized carcinogen if it is present at high levels. The makers of Brazilian Blowout have questioned the lab test results.

But, Canada's health department also found up to 12 percent formaldehyde and warned people to stop using it. They cited complaints from consumers of "burning eyes, nose, and throat, breathing difficulties and one report of hair loss associated with use of the product." The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now working with state and local authorities to determine if these hair products are safe.

The FDA says its investigation began after it received complaints from consumers and salons associated with the use of Brazilian Blowout.

Those complaints included breathing difficulties, headaches, eye irritation, rashes and fainting.

You can find more information on the FDA's website at

To report problems to the FDA, you can fill out a Medwatch form online at or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form by mail.