Beauty To Die For
Lately, I’ve been asked questions about the keratin straightening treatments. I’m always concerned about potentially toxic chemicals in products that I apply to client’s hair and that are around my employees. So I decided to don my Sherlock Holmes cap and do a little research on this controversial hair topic and surprisingly, it was not hard to find cons against this popular beauty ritual. I would like to share with you some interesting facts that I have learned and I hope this helps with your decision on whether or not this will be a risk you or a loved one are willing to take for beauty.
A Brazilian Keratin Treatment is a process that uses keratin to straighten hair. The keratin (A protein high in sulphur and cystine that is the foundation of hair and nails) is combined with formaldehyde (a known carcinogen) to form the straightening solution. The solution is fused onto the outer layer of hair with a 450-degree-Fahrenheit flat iron to create (voila!) silky, smooth hair that lasts for three months. The process is effective in straightening hair; however, the formaldehyde in the solution poses health dangers.
Brazilian keratin treatment kits used by hair salons are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not regulated. This means that there is no standard to what goes in the solutions, nor are they tested for safety.
The main danger and health concern with keratin treatments is the risk of cancer as formaldehyde has carcinogenic properties. Only .02 percent of formaldehyde in cosmetic products is considered safe. Some of these treatments have been found to have up to 10 percent formaldehyde! (Yes, I think that deserves an exclamation point.) Some companies have even gone as far as marketing their brand as “formaldehyde free” and instead “formalin” is listed as an ingredient in the straightening solution. Formalin is essentially watered-down formaldehyde.
The formaldehyde vaporizes when it is heated by the straightening iron. The customer and the person applying it (plus the neighbors in the chairs next to them) are then exposed to high levels of formaldehyde gas, putting them at risk for cancer. (Remember when people used to smoke in hair salons?)
-Other Health Dangers
Formaldehyde is known to cause other health issues such as eye irritation. It can also irritate the lungs if a person inhales formaldehyde fumes.
Lastly, the formaldehyde slowly leaves the hair so the person with the treatment is exposed to it for up to three months. Every time that person uses a hot straightening iron on her hair, she essentially re-activates the fumes and exposes herself to the same risks (cancer, eye and lung irritation) as when she first had the process done. So the next time you find yourself wrestling with frizzy curls and are considering a course of action to take on these unruly locks, please remember that the risks may outweigh the reward.
Wendy – excellent post. Informative if scary. L.