Straight hair may come at a price: Most straighteners contain more formaldehyde than advertised, a new study claims.

A new study that tested the formaldehyde content in four keratin hair straighteners found that three out of the four products contained more formaldehyde than what was claimed.

The research was done by the San Francisco-based scientific consulting firm, ChemRisk, and published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

The four products reviewed were:

  1. Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution
  2. Global Keratin Juvexin Optimized Functional Keratin
  3. Coppola Keratin Complex Blonde Formula
  4. La-Brasiliana Escluso Keratin Treatment

Out of these four, only La-Brasiliana Escluso Keratin Treatment tested formaldehyde-free as claimed on the product.

Brazilian Blowout was labeled as formaldehyde-free, but contained 11.5% formaldehyde and Coppola contained 3% formaldehyde, the study found. Global Keratin correctly identified its product to contain formaldehyde, but it was more than twice as much as it claimed: 8.3%.

What is formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a cancer-causing chemical that is used in many industries, including the beauty industry and the funeral business (body preserving fluid).

Formaldehyde helps bind keratin to hair and helps straightening it. It is released when hair treated with keratin products is heated with a blow dryer and then with a hot flat iron, as the labeling recommends.

Salon workers using a formaldehyde-releasing hair straightening product have complained about the following health effects:

  • Eye and throat irritation
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Burning sensations
  • Breathing problems
  • Nosebleeds
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • Rashes

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel said that formaldehyde is safe in cosmetic products when formulated with minimal effective concentrations. The panel said those concentrations should not exceed 0.2%.

Formaldehyde exposure an occupational hazard

The study examined the occupational health and safety risks for beauty salon stylists and workers by measuring the formaldehyde content over the duration of the treatment and in different parts of the salon.

For the three products that contained formaldehyde, “the highest exposures were measured for the salon worker and client receiving the treatment,” said the study’s lead author, Jennifer Pierce.

Brazilian Blowout ranked highest in terms of exposure, followed by Global Keratin and Coppola.

The air was tested in a salon with an effective ventilation rate of two to three air replacements per hour.

Source: Los Angeles Times

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Salon hair products like hair straighteners, hair dyes and hair sprays can release harmful pollutants into the ambient air.

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The stand-alone air cleaners with source capture attachment provide a cost-effective and powerful air cleaning solution to salons and spas where floor space is limited, and Electrocorp also offers source capture solutions that can be incorporated into the design of the salon.

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