Ugh...this post has been brewing inside for a while. First of all, let me say that I really enjoyed the book "Freakonomics" and it opened my eyes to how much we take what we read, see on TV, or hear in the media as gospel.
I saw this on TV, so it MUST be true........right? They had statistics to back it up.
If you haven't read "Freakonomics" grab a copy and read it...it may change the way you think!
Anyway, at some point in my life between living with a pessimist who believes NOTHING he reads or hears and reading "Freakonomics" I started thinking a little differently about what I see on TV, read in the paper, or hear on the radio.
Which brings me to this post. I had the Brazilian Blowout on my hair a couple of weeks ago. Before going in, I did a little Internet research because I was a bit nervous about my hair's reaction to a chemical treatment. I had a perm (ironic, right....perm and now straighten) in the early 1990's and my hair burned so badly that it just broke off in chunks. I wasn't wanting that to happen again (obviously) so I got on the good old Internet and started researching this Brazilian Blowout.
Wow...there was a LOT of information! And a vast majority of that information was on the whole "does BB have formaldehyde or not" discussion. I'm not going to site sources or provide links, 'cause we're all smart enough to go find it all on our own. BUT, here's what I DID find, and not necessarily in this order, but this makes the most sense.
OSHA in Oregon received an anonymous sample of product that was labeled "Brazilian Blowout" and was asked to test it for formaldehyde. OSHA tested this sample and then published findings that the product does contain high levels of formaldehyde.
Hmmmm....OSHA, right? A government agency couldn't have messed something up, could they? Dig a little more. Many people did not like the whole "anonymous sample" so then I find that a woman steps forward (a salon owner) and says that she was the one who sent the product in. Here's where it gets interesting.
Brazilian Blowout searched their customer files and they don't have this woman or her salon on file as someone they have shipped product to. See, BB is doing something different in the Health and Beauty industry. Most product is sold directly to a distributor, and their sales people visit salons and sell the product to the salon. BB decided to cut the middle man out of the equation and ONLY SELL TO SALONS DIRECTLY. (Hmmm...that didn't piss someone off, did it???) So, since the only way you get the BB product is from BB themselves, they would know if they had sold to this woman or her salon. So where exactly did her sample come from? At this point....we don't know.
So this leads me to the point where I need to make a decision...my BB is the day AFTER I have found all of this information. According to the BB website, they are willing to directly provide samples to OSHA or any other independent tester because they believe their product is formaldehyde free and stand by that claim. I read about testing that was done by BB and they find "trace elements of formaldehyde at a level of less than .0002%" which, quite frankly, could be found in common household items. Clients complain about burning eyes. Um, OK, I've had perms and my eyes burned, and even had some burning of my eyes while getting my hair cut if someone else in the salon is having their nails done. So, based on all of this, I keep the appointment. I determine that FOR ME, this risk is less than going out and eating a Big Mac, so I'm gonna do it.
I go in on 10/8 and have my BB. Yes, my eyes burned a bit during the flat iron stage, just like the stylist warned me it may. Again, not too worried here 'cause I've had the same thing before. I leave, looking quite amazing if I do say so myself, and am totally a believer in the beauty of the Blowout! I can't wait to wash, dry, and fix my hair on my own to see if it really is as easy as she made it look. I anticipate the dust building up on my Chi iron, as it sits, unused in the bathroom drawer!
I happen to get online later that day, and guess what? More information discrediting Oregon OSHA's claims. Now we find that their testing methods were proven faulty. Long story short, a scientist claims that OSHA's testing was measuring "Methylene Glycol" and they just called it formaldehyde. MG is apparently a key ingredient in many salon hair straightening treatments. Also pointed out is that formaldehyde is a gas, and as such, it cannot be added to cosmetics. It may exist in trace amounts, but find me a house that doesn't have lots of products that contain TRACE amounts of it. MG contains TRACE amounts of formaldehyde, a reported 0.05%.
Now, the Freakonomist in me wonders who is bankrolling this scientist that has made these claims, but still...it looks pretty convincing. Still, it is better to keep an open mind, right?
Fast forward to a few days ago. News on BB's site states that an air monitoring study has been done at a salon that offers the BB and the exposure levels are more than six times lower than OSHA's standard for air quality safety.
There seems (TO ME) to be compelling evidence that due to the shift from the norm in Brazilian Blowout's business practices there may be a bit of a grudge to bear. That to me, is motive enough, for someone to send in an "anonymous" sample, tainted with formaldehyde, to get the BB company some negative press. Lord knows that with the Internet and social media like it is, that stuff goes "viral" in no time at all.
It also seems that what we're reading is only PART of the story. Each company can hire "experts" to push through their agenda with statistics. That happens every day in trials all over this country.
However, for me, the most compelling evidence that I have as to the formaldehyde/no formaldehyde controversy is this....
A personal friend of mine had the Brazilian Blowout 4-6 weeks before I had mine. She has a SERIOUS allergy to formaldehyde. This allergy is no joke. This is a "hit her with the epi pen and call 911" kind of allergy.
Before her Brazilian Blowout the stylist called the BB company not once, but twice, and was reassured BOTH times that the company felt confident in their product being formaldehyde free. The stylist and my friend decided to proceed.
My lovely friend had NO reaction to the BB. She didn't even have the stinging of her eyes. Nothing...no epi pen required. She was fine, and her hair looks amazing!
So, there you have it folks...my $0.02 worth of opinion on the Brazilian Blowout. We take health risks every day. Some choose to vaccinate; some decide against it. Some eat processed foods; some stick to organic. Some smoke, drink, or drive too fast. Some eat enough fat in fast food to clog your arteries by next week. Some get their nails done...some lay in a tanning bed...the list can go on and on. But the point is, that we all make those calculated risks based on the knowledge that we have about that risk. Sometimes our knowledge base is low, and sometimes we research and dig deeper and know a little more. But whatever you choose to do, please accept the responsibility of YOUR CHOICE. If you burn yourself on your hot coffee, or if you get skin cancer after tanning for 20 years, that was YOUR CHOICE. It's not someone else's responsibility to pay for the mistakes that we make. We've turned into an insanely litigious society and lack of personal responsibility and accountability is a large reason why.
....I shall get off of my soap box.......for now!