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Many people dream of having perfectly straight hair, but the products that give the look you want could be dangerous. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a hazard alert to hair salons about potential formaldehyde exposure from working with certain hair smoothing and straightening products.
"We basically use natural products. Affirm and sentonix is a natural botanical product, natural oils that are healthy for the hair. Formaldehyde is not one of the ingredients," Janice Clarke with Lasting Impressions hair salon in Norfolk said.
OSHA tests detected the gas in the air even when stylists used products labeled formaldehyde-free.
The alert specifically mentions the Brazilian Blowout, which does not technically contain formaldehyde. But Brazilian Blowout products have an ingredient called methylene glycol, which the company's CEO says released trace amounts of formaldehyde during the heating and straightening process.
"News to me... we haven't heard anything about it. This is the first we've heard about it. I think that we should get it out more to let salon owners know what is going on with the different products that we are using," said Clarke.
The potential problem is not limited to the Brazilian Blowout. OSHA pointed out other, similar treatments may also release formaldehyde.
"I always thought they used formaldehyde for embalming fluid, and that's bad. That can become hazardous for us as stylists," said Clarke.
Formaldehyde can irritate the eyes and cause allergic reactions. It's also linked to lung cancer. It's potentially a hefty price to pay, to avoid a few bad hair days.
"I've had problems with my health just recently and over the past years, they should let us know what's going on and what's being put into the product that we are using," Clarke added.
The company that sells Brazilian Blowout products also sells Brazilian Blowout Zero, which does not contain methylene glycol.