NEW: We have an update from Brazilian Blowout regarding testing done by Health Science Associates (HSA), a Certified Small Business Enterprise who routinely performs indoor air quality (IAQ) investigations and ventilation system evaluations for clients.



Independent salon air monitoring performed by one of California’s leading environmental safety companies, Health Science Associates (HSA), has concluded that Cosmetologists exposure levels are more than SIX times lower than OSHA’s most stringent and conservative standard for air quality safety.

On October 9, 2010, HSA performed a comprehensive Air Monitoring Study over an eight-hour period in a typical salon environment, while Cosmetologists performed multiple Brazilian Blowout professional smoothing treatments throughout the day. The table below details the results of their scientific testing.

Test Summary: The breathing air (breathing zone) of two licensed Cosmetologists was monitored while each performed two Brazilian Blowout Professional Smoothing Treatments in the same test salon, over the same eight-hour period. Their separate exposures to Formaldehyde gas in the air was determined to be 0.064 ppm and 0.073 ppm, which is well below OSHA’s most stringent requirements for an eight-hour period, called the eight-hour time weighted average (TWA).

What does this mean? The safest and most stringent level of exposure set by Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is called the OSHA Action Limit and is even more conservative than their “Permissible Exposure Limit” (PEL).

The OSHA Action limit is 0.5 ppm, therefore, these two Cosmetologist’s exposures were more than six times below OSHA’s most conservative measure for safety where the potential for formaldehyde gas exposure is concerned.

Conclusion: These levels indicate that OSHA safe levels of exposure are NOT exceeded.

We have sent an email to Michael Woods of the Oregon division of OSHA and hope to have an official OSHA statement soon.

A few words from Jordana Lorraine regarding this news release:

There is still the question of why some people have reported problematic reactions during or after performing or receiving Brazilian Blowouts. Could they be reacting to a different ingredient? Perhaps. Listing the ingredients would help both stylists and clients know in advance if they are likely to have a reaction.

Then there is proper usage and environment. These tests were presumably done by experienced stylists, using the recommended amount of product, in the ideal environment.  Not all salons have great air filtration systems, but they do have options to provide better ventilation and protection!  Check out mine from Aerovex Systems at

Brazilian Blowout teaches stylists how much product to use, even in their video training and on the bottle, but in my observation, it is very common for stylists to use too much. They may think they’re doing you a favor, but they’re not; and they’re not doing themselves any favors, either! Using excess product that cannot be absorbed will of course produce excess fumes. It is also very important that the product is not applied to the scalp, which unfortunately is a mistake that has been reported as well. Overuse or improper use of many common salon chemicals (bleach, perm) can lead to a long list of problems.

The company also cannot come to each salon and evaluate their space and ventilation, but they could give more specific guidelines. No one should be doing this in a closet-sized room in the back of a beauty supply, or in an environment with no air flow. We’ll see what is to come.

It is always a good idea to research a few stylists before choosing to have the treatment done. Ask about their training, experience, how often they perform the service, and how their salon is set up to accommodate any fumes produced during the treatment. For more on choosing a stylist, see this post: You Want a Keratin Treatment. But How Do You Choose a Stylist?

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TAMMY GIBSON, founder of A Mom in Red High Heels, is a God-loving, coffee-drinking, heel-wearing, wife and mom offering up her best tips to help women look and feel fabulous so they can achieve their biggest dreams.


  1. @Carrie I understand your curiosity to try it, and I’m sorry to hear you unknowingly exposed yourself to something you would have known you would have a reaction to, due to the rep’s MIS-representation. Which formula was it? My associate is fine with the Light formula but had a reaction after trying the Wavy/Curly one so I schedule them when she’s not there. I do hope you are addressing this issue of misrepresentation with Global Keratin directly, and a supervisor at the distributor.

    Some people (obviously you but not your assistant) are more sensitive/allergic than others. My understanding is that if you are, it gets worse with each exposure. I have personally done hundreds with no trouble at all. I use the Chemical Source Capture System and Room Air Purifier from Aerovex Systems, and an exhaust fan in my studio, which my associate and I love.

    It’s good to hear that you have also made special accommodations to protect yourself, your staff and your clients. I hope you have a great weekend!

  2. Carrie and Jordana,

    Being progressive about your health and evaluating the available ventilation control measures only seems intelligent to me. I suggest you also check your buildings’ HVAC filter, to determine if it’s designed also to remove salon vapors and dusts. Most likely not!
    Special salon HVAC filters designed to remove formaldehyde vapors are recommended.
    By also implementing this HVAC Filtration control measure, and adding to Chemical Source Capture Ventilation & Room Air Purification, you will have covered all 3 Ventilation Zones. (For the latest on the “Hair Smoothing Controversey” go to Aerovex Systems blog,

  3. @Trey: Regarding your now deleted inappropriate comments: REALLY??? This is how you want to comment on my blog? No thanks, your comments are no longer welcomed. Please find another blog to harass.

  4. LMichelle

    Carie you should seriously try the Coppola. Once again, I don’t know if it is really, truly safe. In my personal experience though, it is way better. It actually has smoother, prettier results than all of the BBs that I’ve seen and I have never ever had a hang over from it. It causes very mild irritation to your eyes. Also, if you did it the one time and felt like that, aren’t you worried about the assistant who does it for you?

    For everyone else arguing for the BB: First of all, the fact that people are arguing the safety of the formaldehyde is just insane! I don’t think it should matter how much of the stuff was in the air. The fact is that in every test there is formaldehyde in the air! That is not good! I don’t understand how anyone can argue for a product that is hurting stylists and clients. It’s all because of what? It makes the client’s hair look nice? Tell me if anyone thinks I’m wrong but I don’t think that is a good enough reason for us to put our health at risk. I personally understand the life changing effects of these treatments. I have wavy, frizzy just completely annoying hair and I had the Coppola treatment done on it before. I would give it up in a heartbeat if they found formaldehyde in that too. The people that are trying to stick up for BB are proof to me of why companies do this kind of crap to us all the time and get away with it. I think that BB is just stupidly trying to cover their butts with the lawsuit. That made me so angry. Yeah, the product was tampered with in this one place yet people all over the country are feeling its nasty affects. What we should be doing instead of arguing for the product is banning against it. Can you imagine the case they would have if every salon sent their OSHA a sample of the product? I know this thought isn’t very realistic, would probably bog down the system a little. Seriously though, this is really rediculous. Everyone should just stop using it no matter how much money it makes them.

  5. After four months of working in a salon in which a few of the stylists perform the Brazilian Blowout, some of us stylists began to get bloody noses, irritated eyes, coughing, and heaviness in the chest after each BB that was performed. I’ve been a cosmetologist for over 30 years and I’ve never had health issues like I do now. I had to move to another salon where they do not do the BB. Even after not being around the formaldehyde in BB, I’m still having the adverse health symptoms. I’ve been playing phone tag for weeks now with the Northern California FDA, although they are doind a full investigation at this time.
    Please sign the petitions.

  6. Carie Carrasco

    @ LMichelle
    I have tried coppola & I do like it , but it DOES contain formaldehyde. The last ingred on the bottle (starts with an “O”) IS FORMALDEHYDE. Just google it! So the reason i dont use it anymore is b/c of the 20 min process time & you have to dry the hair before applying AND the client has to wait 3 days before shampooing. With global there is no process time, you apply on wet hair & client cam shampoo in 2 days.
    As far as my assistant, the fumes do not bother her AT ALL! nor do they bother the other stylists in my salon. I am just sensitive to something in the solution during the flat ironing (probably formaldehyde!)

    So are you going to stop preforming the service when you google the coppola ingreds & see that there IS formaldehyde?

  7. LMichelle

    I probably will stop if what you say is true. I’ve always wondered about it. I’ll look into it. Thanks for telling me.

  8. LMichelle

    Octanal is an aldehyde with the chemical formula C8H16O. It occurs naturally as a colorless or lightly yellow tinged liquid with a fruit-like odor. It is a fairly combustible liquid. It is used commercially as a component in perfumes and in flavor production for the food industry.

    Octanal can also be referred to as caprylic aldehyde or aldehyde C-8. The structural formula for octanal CH3(CH2)6CHO, with a molecular weight of 128.22.

    I found that it is different than formaldehyde. Tell me if you find something I didn’t.

  9. @LMichelle So just to be clear, you feel good about using Keratin Complex by Coppola, which doesn’t even claim to be formadehyde-free, based on some googling. But you think we should all stop using Brazilian Blowout, even if we haven’t had any problems with it (in hundreds of treatments, in my case) because of some reports which have been disputed by a leading industry chemist??

    If you or anyone else is interested in reading this challenge, please see here:

    If you have had problems with it, I definitely don’t think you should do it again, but don’t try to take it away from those of us who have not had problem and whose clients LOVE it!

  10. Carie Carrasco

    Aldehyde is still a type of formaldehyde, just like methylene glycol (the ingred in BB & now in GKs new formula). Both brands say they are safer b/c they dont have “raw” formaldehyde in them &/or less amounts of formaldehyde. But, in my opinion, when it’s heated up to 450 & creates a gas, it doesnt matter how much formaldehyde or what “form” of formaldehyde it is… IT CAN BE DANGEROUS!

    Also, I got the same symptoms doing coppola that I get doing GK. This may sound stupid, but Im sure a lot of stylists would agree (& disagree), But in this industry it is important for us to be competitive & up-to-date & latest trends. This IS the biggest & best new trend to hit our industry in a long time. If you dont offer the service, you fall behind.
    Like I said, I have an assistant to help with my t’ments & I built a “keratin” room w/ exaust fans & pureifiers + we all wear masks while preforming the service. If its a beauiful day, we even go outside. We have an awesome shady set up behind the salon. So I’m taking as much precaution as possible (for myself & others). Honestly, If the flat ironing (Steam) didnt make me fell sick, I would still continue to do the t’ment myself.

    I also feel like long term exposure of formaldehyde can eventually lead to a lot of health problems. but so can drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes & even eating foods full of hydrogenated oils (trans fat). But people still continue to do it everyday! All of these things will have neg. effects on your health at some point & time. (fyi, alcohol & cigs are carcinogens, just like formaldehyde).

    So to sum it up… If formaldehyde really worries you, then I would not be preforming coppola either. Like you said above “I don’t think it should matter how much of the stuff was in the air. The fact is that in every test there is formaldehyde in the air! ”
    BUT no one in your salon should be doing them either b/c it will be the same effects on your health as if you were doing it!

    What do you think?

  11. LMichelle

    First of all, do your research. Not every kind of aldehyde is formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a kind of aldehyde. I actually just talked to a chemical engineer today that told me that the kind of aldehyde that is in the Coppola should be safe. However, if research was done that said that it is not safe I would discontinue use of the product.

    Also, as I stated previously in a much earlier post I am trying to figure out how to get the BB crap out of my salon.

    As far as it being the latest and greatest trend, I do believe tanning was a very big trend in the beauty industry when it first came out. Now twenty year olds have skin cancer from it.

    I personally do not smoke, nor do I subject myself to being around anyone who is. I only drink on rare occasions. I also eat organic food when possible and try my hardest to avoid the trans-fats and that kind of stuff (it is hard sometimes lol). Seriously though, I get your point about that stuff but I promise I’m not one of those people that are complaining about formaldehyde yet going and sucking in poison from cigarettes.

    I think it is great that your salon at least tries to make a safer environment to do the keratin in. I just still don’t think that it is safe, especially after your reaction to it. I think that I am a little more sensitive too. We’re like the canaries they used to send into mines way back when lol.

  12. Carie Carrasco

    @ LMichelle

    Believe me when I say… I have done my research! That is how I know that there is no such thing as “formaldehyde-free keratin”. PERIOD! I have to agree w/ Jordana, these companies (& their chemists) will tell you whatever you want to hear to make a sale. Of course, you believe whatever you choose to believe, I think this is a personal decision that every salon/stylist has to make.

    Aldehyde may be safER than formaldehyde, but no where does it say its SAFE.

    Also, I dont smoke or drink either, but I was making a point that some people will smoke & drink all their lives & live to be 95. Some will do it & die in 10 years. We never know how our bodies will react to things. but, your body will give you “signs”. If you feel in the slightest bit different after you do a t’ment, you prob. shouldnt be doing them(. thats why I dont). Like Jordana, my assistant has done hundreds for me & she feels nothing afterwards. She is totally fine. Thier bodies can handle it better than ours!

  13. @ LMichelle If you are the type of super-nature-girl you say, I am surprised you even work in a hair salon. It is full of chemicals!!! These are just the latest types to come under fire.

    Look into the Chemical Source Capture System and Room Air Purifier from Aerovex Systems: If you are an employee, ask your salon to consider getting it to protect the staff and clients from overexposure, or unwanted exposure. Show them this blog post:

    If you are an independent contractor, as many stylists are, you may have trouble getting the salon owner to make an investment like this. If that is the case, talk to the other stylists and see if maybe everyone is willing to pitch in since they will all benefit from it. When I first learned of this system, I worked at a salon which had both employees and renters, as well as some people who had reactions to the treatment and some that didn’t. They purchased the equipment and then charged the stylists per use until it was paid for. They probably could have (I would have) continued to charge per use, for the convenience of having it available, and to pay for maintenance. This way those who use it more, are paying more, etc.

    Now I have a small studio of my own and I purchased a new system myself. It is well worth it!

  14. LMichelle

    The fact that the type of adehyde in the Coppola is safer was my point the whole time. I was just suggesting for you and everyone else try it because I think it is safer from my personal experience. I don’t know that it is completely safe. I just think it is a better alternative. Also, the chemical engineer that I asked about the chemicals is not in the hair industry. It was actually a client.

    I don’t agree that their bodies can handle it better. Just because they don’t get noticable, physical symptoms from it doesn’t mean it isn’t doing harm on the inside.

    It is a personal choice. I don’t believe we should support a company who is knowingly selling a product that is harmful to us.

  15. LMichelle

    Coppola does claim to be formaldehyde free. They outwardly talk about the chemical in it that makes it work, at least they did at my certification class. I am not just basing my opinions on some googling. If you could read my previous post, it answers some of your comments as well

  16. @LMichelle I have been reading your posts…and I replied earlier but since there links in my comment, it Is pending approval.

    I googled and could not find one official claim by Coppola that their product is formaldehyde-free. I have gone as far as teacher training with the local distributor, and they talk talk talk, but never say it in print. I have used it and it is OK–i prefer Brazilian Blowout or Global Keratin. I’m glad you are using it and like it.

    How about if you do what works for you, I do what works for me, Carrie has her assistant do the steps that she cannot, and we all go about our own business instead of attacking each other 🙂

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  18. Yesterday I had my first Bb. today I have been coughing all day, it feels deep in my lungs. I would consider sickness… however I haven’t been sick for years and it just started this afternoon Approx 15 hrs after Bb… should I be worried? Could this be a side effect, if so will it go away?

  19. @Cassie From what I understand, an allergy to a product like this will usually present symptoms during inhalation (while you were having your hair done,) but if you are still experiencing symptoms I would definitely recommend seeing a Doctor. Before you go, call or go to your salon and ask them for the MSDS–this shows the ingredients and chemical information, for use in case of large spill, fire, or medical treatment. If they don’t have it in the salon, they can get it by logging in to Brazilian Blowout’s website and looking under “Professional Materials.”

    If you haven’t washed your hair yet, you should do so; while the product is rinsed out in the salon, it is not shampooed out, so there could still be some product on your hair. Good luck and please do report back what your Doctor says!

  20. @ Cassie I have been a hairdresser for over 17 yrs. & nothing has ever in my life got me as sick as Brazilian Blowout did. I would definitely go to the Dr. if I were you. I don’t know if you have been reading up on this or not, but Osha has tested numerous bottles of B.B. and every single bottle had up to 12% formaldehyde. If you really want to do your research as I did after getting so sick here is the Osha link with every piece of info you need:

    If you want to start from the begining scroll all the way down until you see september 16 and then go up from there.

    I would not even bother calling the salon and getting the MSDS sheets because this company has lied over and over again and is still to this day denying that it even contains formaldehyde. I feel it is crucial to get your information from someone like Osha who is looking out for your best interest instead of a company that is trying to make money and also has been proven to have lied to the public for so long and on numerous occasions. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times this company has lied to my salon.
    On Osha’s website there is a link that Washington State Department of Labor & Industries posted on Dec. 10, 2010 stating the same thing:

    “Fact 3: Some products containing more than .1% formaldehyde do not list formaldehyde (also called formalin or methylene glycol) on their labels nor on the material safety data sheets (MSDSs) that come with the product. Learning about health symptoms linked to formaldehyde exposure can be your best defense.”

    I went to the Dr. right away as I happend to get sick the exact same time all of this info was coming out. My dr. put me on an inhaler until my acute symptoms went away and unfortunetly it did take a couple months. I hope you feel better soon & be careful because now that you have been exposed you will be sensitive to it again and your symptoms may come back within 10-15 minutes. You might also want to make sure you do not walk into a salon within a week of someone doing one of these services. If they don’t have proper ventilation (and not one salon in my area does) these Keratin Treatments stay in the air for weeks.

  21. @Jen While you of course free to post your opinions and experiences, please use caution when posting statistics and links.

    Several tests done by several agencies showed different results, not “every single bottle” tested for any same result, certainly not 12%

    Why such varied results? Well, inconsistent and improper test procedures, according to industry expert Doug Schoon, quoted here:

    The link you posted was not to OSHA at all. OSHA’s report can be found here: This link was provided on another post by Melanie Mesaros of Oregon OSHA. No where in the 32 pages does it state what you stated above.

    Where did you get your “statistic” about it staying in a salon for weeks? I have never read this, but yes it is imperative that proper ventilation be provided for the health, safety and comfort of both clients and salon staff. If you do have a link with that statistic, please provide it as I would be very interested in reading it. Please refrain from posting inaccurate information or opinion spun as fact.

    I am sorry to hear that both and Cassie have had these problems, and as you may note above I did suggest she see a Doctor. Please understand that when done properly, these treatments are safe for most people, as shown by air testing done by an independent agency, as well as OSHA. it is unfortunate that some people are not performing it properly; and that some people are allergic or especially sensitive, even with proper use. But this should not prevent the majority of people from having it as an option.

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