August 21st is National Brazilian Blowout Day. It always sneaks up on me. In case you are unfamiliar with this product (or are blessed with naturally straight hair), “BRAZILIAN BLOWOUT IS THE PREFERRED SMOOTHING TREATMENT OF CELEBRITIES, BEAUTY EXPERTS, AND STYLISTS AROUND THE WORLD.” It is the jizz that cures the frizz™ (I just made that up). Woman rave about how effective this product is to get the kink out of their hair. But what’s the secret sauce in Brazilian Blowout?
It’s formaldehyde: a pungent gas created by combining oxygen with methanol. Formaldehyde has numerous applications but it’s best known for its role in embalming fluid. It’s a preservative that helps prevent dead bodies from decomposing and stinking. Formaldehyde is also listed as carcinogenic by the Federal Government. The good news is that Brazilian Blowout gets rid of frizz but the bad news is its main ingredient can cause cancer. Brazilian Blowout is the poster child for the so-called “Cancer Loophole.”
In fact, many products in American contain lethal but legal ingredients. Chemicals like formaldehyde, styrene, cadmium, arsenic, asbestos, benzene, toluene and atrazine – to name just a few. We assume (or hope) products are safe because they are on the shelf. But the truth is it’s legal to sell products with ingredients that not only cause cancer, but can also cause birth defects and disrupt hormones. Companies are basically on the honor system, and they shouldn’t be. What’s alarming is that companies generally don’t need to disclose these harmful chemicals on product labels. This means that consumers are not choosing to be exposed to harmful chemicals – the chemical industry and product manufacturers get to choose for us. The situation is exacerbated by misleading ads and the ridiculous marketing claims of the products that saturate our lives. In the case of Brazilian Blowout, it was actually marketing its formaldehyde-laced product as “formaldehyde-free.” Yes, that takes brass balls!Brazilian Blowout got slapped with a lawsuit in 2012; not because it was selling a product with a high level of a known cancer-causing chemical but because it was marketing it as not having the carcinogen. It lost the suit but it can still sell Brazilian Blowout with formaldehyde; it just can’t market it as “formaldehyde-free.” Brazilian Blowout’s
douche bag chief executive, Michael Brady, had this to say in the New York Times after the settlement:
Michael Brady, Brazilian Blowout’s chief executive, said the proposed settlement would be paid by his insurance company and would end an unpleasant episode for his company. “We get to sell the product forever without reformulation,” he said. “In my eyes, that’s the acquittal we’ve been waiting for.”
The system to regulate chemicals in America is badly broken but, perversely, the flawed system is working just fine for many companies because they are dependent on and accustomed to using cheap, untested chemicals. And they are too stingy, lazy and not creative enough to reformulate their products with better, greener chemistry.
Experts agree that the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is the weak link in America’s regulatory framework. Efforts to fix this broken law are underway but the so-called TSCA “reform” bill in the Senate would not prohibit known carcinogens in everyday products nor would it require manufacturers to disclose cancer causing chemicals on product labels. Does that sound like reform to you?
Consumers don’t know what they don’t know about the chemicals in everyday products, and companies don’t need to tell them – so consumers are making bad choices about what they buy, and producers are making bad choices about what they sell.
Industry doesn’t want products labels that disclose all chemicals because they know consumers are smart and will make better choices if they know what they’re buying. Instead, industry (fragrance, food, chemicals, cosmetics, personal care, cleaning products, etc.) forms “trade associations” that lobby against regulating chemicals (even those known to cause cancer) and against listing ALL ingredients on product labels. Isn’t ignorance bliss?
Until we fix the broken system and get money out of politics, Americans are sitting ducks for chronic disease. Morally bankrupt CEO’s justify selling products with cancer-causing chemicals by simply saying they aren’t breaking the law. The law is broken and we need to fix it.
Lastly, you may be wondering about the title of this post: “Brazilian Blowout Cures Chemo Curls.” After chemotherapy, many patients’ hair regrows much curlier than it was pre-chemo – they’re called chemo curls. Now, knowing that Brazilian Blowout’s main ingredient, formaldehyde, can cause cancer, is it hard to believe that this company might offer chemo coupons? Let us know what you think.