In August, Johnson & Johnson announced it was voluntarily removing some chemicals, including formaldehyde, from its products. By 2015, the company promised to get rid of 1,4 dioxane, which is a probable human carcinogen, and several chemicals linked to altered hormones, including phthalates, triclosan and parabens.
Breslawec said the cosmetics industry has petitioned the FDA to strengthen some regulations. The industry recognizes the law needs modernizing in the global marketplace, she said. An overarching goal, however, is to avoid piecemeal state rules.
Stylists seek reform
Hoping to convince federal officials to pay attention to the Brazilian Blowout dangers, Arce and Marino went to Washington, D.C., in July. They took dozens of stories of injured workers to a high-level meeting of federal officials. Arce supports a bill, the Safe Cosmetics Act, backed by environmental and consumer groups and opposed by the personal care product industry. It remains stalled in committee.
Some stylists and consumers have sued GIB, although Arce, Marino, Tanev and Josimov have not.
In a class action suit, 10 plaintiffs in March negotiated a preliminary $4 million settlement with GIB, which includes payments to consumers of $35 an application, with a limit of three, and a $75 reimbursement per bottle to stylists. The plaintiffs estimate that over the years up until December, about 15,700 U.S. stylists had purchased Brazilian Blowout directly from GIB and about 100,000 customers had paid for the treatment. The settlement also proposes to resolve a pending federal class action suit.
After the announcement of the proposed settlement, Michael Brady, Brazilian Blowout’s chief executive officer, was quoted in The New York Times as saying it 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 was quoted in the Times. “In my eyes, that’s the acquittal we’ve been waiting for.”
Meanwhile, Brazilian Blowout is taking its product on the road with two-hour training sessions to certify stylists in 14 cities in California, Texas and Wisconsin. "Become part of the elite group of stylists who are learning the necessary skills to generate profits with the industry's newest revenue stream,” the company’s website says.
Ironically, battling smog, rather than protecting stylists, may be the way Brazilian Blowout gets banned in California. The state is pursuing a claim that it violates state limits on smog-forming chemicals in consumer products, with a hearing scheduled for next month.
“It's going to be a long, hard haul before anything can happen,” Arce said. “The current laws have created a perfect storm for these companies to continue to get away with it.”
For more information:
Consumer health groups
Black Women for Wellness
Environmental Working Group
National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salon Alliance
American Chemistry Council
Personal Care Products Council