Brazilian Blowout Settles Class Action Lawsuit

Brazilian Blowout has settled a class action lawsuit over its formaldehyde-containing products. Most recently, the maker of the popular and controversial hair straightener finally agreed to include label warnings on the product.

The current settlement, which mandates the maker of Brazilian Blowout pay a “small compensation” to salon workers and customers who used the dangerous product, does not sufficiently protect public health said The Environmental Working Group (EWG).

“A rudimentary understanding of chemistry could debunk the ‘formaldehyde free’ claims that Brazilian Blowout was making,” said David Andrews, PhD, senior EWG scientist. “While the company now acknowledges that formaldehyde is in its product, that does not mean the product is safe to use.”

The New York Times reported that the company is to pay some $4.5 million with customers alleging harm receiving $35 for each hair straightening sessions. Salons usually charge $250 to $600 for the service, noted The Times. Consumers are compensated for a maximum of three sessions, or $105; salon workers receive $75 for every bottle of the product purchased, The Times noted.

The settlement comes after the January 30 settlement between the company, GIB, LLC, and the California Attorney General’s office over alleged violations of the California’s Safe Cosmetics Act. Following this settlement, Brazilian Blowout products must display a “CAUTION” sticker and GIB agreed to refrain from misleading consumers over Brazilian Blowout’s risks linked to its formaldehyde-laced products. GIB was also required to pay $600,000 in fines and litigation fees, said EWG.

Late last year, we wrote that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning letter to the Brazilian Blowout maker stating that its hair straightening products contain “dangerously high levels” of formaldehyde. The agency ordered the maker to reduce the levels of the liquid formaldehyde or face a product ban.

At that time, the FDA issued a news release stating that Brazilian Blowout products are adulterated and misbranded and contain misleading labels and advertising that falsely claims the products are formaldehyde-free. The FDA stated it received a number of injury complaints from salon workers and consumers about eye and nervous system disorders, chest pain, vomiting, rashes, and respiratory problems and described the Brazilian Blowout maker as a “notorious hair straightening products company” and that its tests detected liquid formaldehyde levels of 8.7-10.4%.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates an occupational hazard alert for levels over 0.1%, the FDA said. The federal government and the World Health Organization (WHO) classify formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen, noted EWG.

An EWG probe found that another 16 companies use formaldehyde in their hair smoothing products and said it is awaiting action from FDA in response to a citizen petition filed last April that asked the agency to investigate and review the safety of formaldehyde-laced hair straighteners.

Current regulations prohibit the FDA from ordering product recalls even if products are found to be harmful, said the EWG. If passed, last year’s Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011, introduced by Representatives Jan Schakowsky (Democracy-Illinois), Ed Markey (Democrat-Massachusetts), and Tammy Baldwin (Democrat-Wisconsin), give the agency recall authority and the power to mandate pre-market safety testing to ensure dangerous products are not sold to consumers.

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