Research Center Finds Formaldehyde in “Formaldehyde-Free” Brazilian Blowout

On September 16, 2010, Oregon Health & Science University’s (OHSU) Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology (CROET) issued an important statement regarding the possible toxic effects of one brand of brazilian blowout solution and more specifically: their “Formaldehyde-Free” claim.

Generally, these kinds of hair straightening solutions (i.e. brazilian keratin treatment) are used to straighten a person’s hair for an extended period of time by combining the solution with either the heat of a flatiron or the heat of a blow dryer. In many cases, the combination of the solution and heat produce fumes that contain formaldehyde (or other toxic chemicals, depending on the chemical make-up of the solution). [Click Here for our previous blog post explaining the basic health issues involved with Brazilian Keratin Treatment or Click Here for our blog post regarding the Hazards of Formaldehyde]

Many of Sentry Air’s salon clients that are in the market for a Fume Extractor for their hair straightening procedures ask us about “Formaldehyde Free” straightening solution and whether it is safe or if fume extraction is necessary. The research conducted and compiled by OHSU may help answer some of your questions:

The following information has been obtained from the Oregon Health & Science University’s website, under their “Emerging Issues and Alerts” section. []

A summary of what was posted on September 16, 2010:

A salon based in Portland, Oregon contacted The Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology (CROET) and complained of side effects that their stylists were experiencing in conjunction with a product they had been using: Brazilian Blowout Solution (shipped from Brazilian Blowout). These side effects included “difficulty breathing, nose bleeds and eye irritation in stylists using the product as directed.” This particular product is heated with a flat iron during the straightening process. It is noted that the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) that accompanied the product “listed no hazardous ingredients or impurities” and that the product container also lacked a chemical ingredients label. The salon discontinued the use of this product due to the experienced side effects and sent it to CROET for testing.

CROET requested the consulting services of the Oregon OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) in order to carry out a chemical analysis of the product. The original container was sent to the Oregon OSHA and test results determined that the product contained 4.85% formaldehyde. In addition, they also found methanol, ethanol, beta hydroxyl ethyl methacrylate, and hexdecanol.

A summary of what was posted on September 24, 2010:

CROET released a follow-up statement regarding a second sample of a similar product: Acai Professional Smoothing Solution (Formaldehyde-Free). This product was shipped by the same company previously mentioned (Brazilian Blowout) to a Portland, Oregon salon, who along with other salons, were expressing concern over the health effects related to this product.

This product was also sent to the Oregon OSHA for chemical analysis. After four different test methods were carried out, OSHA determined that Acai Professional Smoothing Solution (Formaldehyde-Free) contained 10.6%, 6.3%, 10.6% and 10.4% formaldehyde in the product (these results are from four different tests and methods of testing).

CROET has since taken the following actions: Requested that the Oregon OSHA contact the California OSHA to evaluate the material safety data sheets that accompany these products for accuracy, submitted a report to the FDA regarding the branding of the cosmetic, and submitted a report to the California Dept. of Public Health concerning the 2005 California Safe Cosmetic Act.

To Stylists

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer: formaldehyde is a carcinogen. It is essential that you take the time to research the products that you’re using for straightening processes and it is highly recommended that you obtain the advice of a Safety Professional or Certified Industrial Hygienist to evaluate the amount of chemical exposure that you and your clients are enduring. Even “Formaldehyde-Free” solutions have the potential to be harmful.

If you would like consultation regarding ventilation and purification during Brazilian Keratin Treatments or other Hair Straightening processes, please call Melissa Vaughn at Sentry Air Systems at 713.690.2153 or email us at

Our website,, is dedicated to brazilian keratin treatment safety. For a testimonial about our BKT Fume Extractor, please click here.

For UPDATED INFORMATION on this topic, please visit our newest blog post on the subject.

***This blog post has been compiled in good faith by Sentry Air Systems, Inc; and no representation is made as to the completeness or accuracy of the information it contains. In particular, you should be aware that this information may be incomplete, may contain errors or may have become out of date. Sentry Air Systems, Inc. makes no commitment, and disclaims any duty, to update any of this information. Sentry Air Systems, Inc. reserves the right to add, modify or delete any information at this website at any time.