Black women are highly targeted toxic and estrogen-laden hair products compared to any other ethnic target market group. We all saw Chris Rock’s Good Hair and watched in horror as the scientist dipped a soda can into the chemicals used in relaxers as demonstration of the impact these chemicals have on our hair and our health. Unfortunately, we’ve been exposing ourselves to these hazardous chemicals for years voluntarily, but what if we never had the option to make that decision?
Hair products and cosmetics don’t have to undergo the scrutiny of the Food and Drug Administration unless there’s a color component or risky medical claims made by a manufacturer. What does this mean for the American public? Lack of regulation of personal care products on the market essentially means that anyone can put anything on the market, dangerous or not, without so much as a blink of an eye by the FDA. So much for big brother protecting our health.
One group of U.S. representatives is stepping up, fighting back and urging the FDA to get with the program and start regulating known cancer-causing straightening products. Their first order of business? Calling out the makers of infamous products like the Brazillian Blowout. “The two-hour hair treatments, which cost about $250, transform coarse, kinky hair into soft, smooth hair for two or three months,” writes JoNel Aleccia for MSNBC.
Representatives Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) sent a letter to the FDA yesterday expressing their concerns and demanding action. “The FDA’s inaction on this matter is putting the health of thousands of salon workers and consumers at risk of dangerous formaldehyde exposure from the continued use of not only Brazilian Blowout, but other hair straightening treatments that contain formaldehyde. A November 2011 study published in the Journal of Occupational Environmental Hygiene found dangerous levels of formaldehyde in several other brands of hair straighteners,” the letter stated.
The Brazilian Blowout was made available in salons for professional use only. Known for its incredible straightening products, women flocked to their stylists to tame their mane. The product, created by GIB, made headlines in 2011 when research showed that the Brazilian Blowout released high levels of formaldehyde. Despite this information and slap on the wrist by the FDA with a $600,000 fine, GIB and other makers of the product sold across the country, didn’t clean up their act.
According to Time magazine the Brazilian Blowout Acai Smoothing Solution and Brazilian Blowout Professional Smoothing Solution were being sold as “formaldehyde free,” but both products release formaldehyde into the air when used according to the instructions.
The representatives’ letter continued: “The FDA has an obligation to protect the public health by using its legal authority to ensure cosmetic products such as Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution that are clearly adulterated or misbranded are removed from the market.”
We’ll lay in wait for the FDA to respond which could mean chance at greater regulation. In the meantime, should we also be urging our local representatives to take action on behalf of black women’s hair products?