Not So Fast With The Hair Straightening, Missy

When I released my dependence upon hair color and liberated my grey roots  I opted for a great haircut to enhance my new and natural look.

Admittedly, I still jump back when I see this older woman in the mirror.  It compromises me.  Do I go back to color and fight the relentless grey root syndrome? Do I experiment with, say, the popular Brazilian hair treatment?

Thick wavy locks bless my scalp.  But they are unyielding tresses.  I can look wild and unkempt without daily hair styling.  And truth is it’s much too easy for me for find something more important to do—like write a blog.

I whine and complain to my hairdresser who suggested I try this super popular Brazilian hair treatment.  It’s a bit pricey, but the results are sleek and sexy hair.  Less daily straightening.  A good thing, right?

Providence jumped in this morning while I scanned the daily environmental headlines from the Society of Environmental Journalists.  From Scientific American:  U.S Government Has Little Authority To Stop Unsafe Cosmetics.  Reporter Jane Kay begins,

Hair stylist Natalija Josimov combed the straightening solution through her client’s hair. She snapped on the blow dryer, and the heated hair sent up a plume of white vapor that wrapped them in a toxic cloud. Next came the 450-degree flat iron, letting loose another sharp stink of embalming fluid that burned her eyes and made her nauseous.

Every day for months, Josimov performed three or four chemical straightening treatments at a New York City salon until she fell so ill she couldn’t even stay in the same room.

Josimov is accustomed to odors of peroxide, nail polish and permanent wave solution. But this is different: It’s Brazilian Blowout, and its secret ingredient is formaldehyde, a carcinogen linked to nose and throat cancers, leukemia, respiratory problems and other health effects…Brazilian Blowout’s Acai and Original hair-smoothing products contain high concentrations of methylene glycol, the liquid form of formaldehyde, according to government testing. The chemical helps alter the protein structure of hair strands so that they remain smooth and straight for months.

Okay, so it works.  The stylist said that her clients called the treatment  “life changing.”  But it was the stylist’s life that was changing.

The report continues:

Her progression of symptoms mirrored hundreds of other stylists – the burning eyes and sore throats followed by chronic runny noses. Respiratory infections settled in for months, accompanied by scabby blisters in the nose. With prolonged exposure came the asthma-like wheezing and shortness of breath.

“I’m a runner, and I started to notice it was becoming much more difficult. The last straw was one night when I went to bed I was wheezing and gasping for air. I thought I was going to have to call 911. It was three o’clock in the morning. I live alone,” the stylist said.

So what about keratin treatments?  I’m feeling squeezed.  Keratin, a safe protein, has to be the solution.

Oprah, the goddess of all things woman, suggests, Not so fast, Missy Wavy Gray Hair!

From Oprah.comIt’s unlikely these treatments could live up to their claims without formaldehyde.
Many companies say their product eradicates frizz (for up to five months) with only keratin, amino acids, or “proprietary conditioners.” But none of these ingredients alone can keep hair frizz-free through multiple shampoos. That’s why formulas also include ingredients (like methylene glycol or formalin) that become formaldehyde gas when heated or dried. After the hair is thoroughly saturated with one of these solutions, it’s dried and flatironed; the process releases the formaldehyde, which bonds the conditioners to the hair so it remains smooth for months. Over time, the bonds dissolve and the hair’s natural texture gradually returns. Several new salon services have launched this year that claim to be (really, truly!) formaldehyde-free; if this is the case, it’s unclear how they will keep hair smooth for as long as they claim (at least six weeks, and up to four months).

Fortunately, I love hats.

2 thoughts on “Not So Fast With The Hair Straightening, Missy

  1. Agreed. It’s so easy to assume that products we use on our body are safe. I had no idea about the deadly side of hair straightening until I discovered the article that inspired this blog.

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