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Council calls for formaldehyde review

This article was originally published in The Rose Sheet

Executive Summary

In light of controversy surrounding levels of formaldehyde found in Brazilian Blowout products, the Personal Care Products Council asks the Cosmetic Ingredient Review expert panel to review the safety of formaldehyde and methylene glycol in professional hair-smoothing products. CIR initially reviewed formaldehyde in 2005, determining it safe for use in beauty products if the measurement of free formaldehyde does not exceed 0.2%, but the review considered its use primarily as a preservative and could not conclude that it "is safe in products intended to be aerosolized." Formaldehyde in formulas "exists mostly as methylene glycol with virtually no gaseous formaldehyde remaining," but when it is heated and dried - as in professional smoothing treatments - formaldehyde can be released into the air and inhaled, Council says. The group recommends that FDA work with OSHA to determine if salon hair-smoothing products emit levels of formaldehyde gas that are unsafe under products' intended conditions of use. After receiving consumer complaints, Oregon's OSHA and Health Canada both investigated products from the Brazilian Blowout brand, initially finding formaldehyde levels between 4.85% and 12% (1"The Rose Sheet" Oct. 11, 2010, In Brief). Oregon's OSHA has retested and found levels in the products - which are labeled "formaldehyde-free" - averaging 8.86%. Brazilian Blowout, distributed by Cavideu USA, has maintained its products are safe (2"The Rose Sheet" Oct. 18, 2010, In Brief)

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Formaldehyde Safety Could Get Another Look From CIR Panel

Following controversy surrounding formaldehyde levels in certain Brazilian Blowout professional hair smoothing products, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel will consider reopening review of formaldehyde at its Dec. 13-14 meeting.

Formaldehyde found in Brazilian Blowout products

After receiving complaints from consumers, Oregon's Occupational Safety & Health Division and Canadian regulatory body Health Canada tested and determined products from California-based Brazilian Blowout contain high levels of formaldehyde. Using four different testing methods, Oregon OSHA found product samples to have formaldehyde levels between 4.85% and 10.6%, while Health Canada found samples with 12% formaldehyde. In its Oct. 5 release, Brazilian Blowout - marketer of a hair-smoothing treatment administered by salons - says its own testing shows trace formaldehyde levels of less than 0.002%, which is considered safe and "allows for use of the term 'formaldehyde-free.'" Health Canada received complaints of "burning eyes, nose and throat, breathing difficulties," it says, as well as one report of hair loss from use of Brazilian Blowout products. It issued an advisory Oct. 7 urging stylists to stop using Brazilian Blowout treatments and directing consumers to seek medical attention if they are exhibiting reactions. Brazilian Blowout maintains the level of formaldehyde is 10,000 times less than the 40 parts-per-million concentration limit set by California's Proposition 65. As the firm continues its investigation into the claims, "we are confident that all misinformation and inaccurate data will soon be dispelled," it says. FDA weighs in with a notice on its website Oct. 8, stating it has not received any official adverse event reports on Brazilian Blowout but is working with state and local organizations "to determine whether the products or ingredients would be likely to cause health problems under the intended conditions of use.

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