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The settlement with the California attorney general required that the Brazilian Blowout formula be tested to see if it violates California’s air quality law.Three bottles of the smoothing treatment were tested at three separate locations.Time passed, and Arce slowly started to feel healthy again. The salon, which serves a diverse clientele—white, black, young and old—seemed to have formaldehyde residue in the air from a hair smoothing treatment done three days earlier.But one Tuesday about two months later, she came to work and noticed she was having trouble breathing. Arce says the owner had allowed it to be done when she wasn’t working. Feeling betrayed by the salon’s owner, the two sisters quit and found work at a different salon.Scores of publications, from magazine, reported that it was all the rave among celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Halle Berry.
Most hair smoothers—including popular brands like Keratin Complex by Coppola, Marcia Teixeira and Brazilian Silk—contain keratin, a key protein found naturally in hair, nails and skin. What both types of smoothers have in common is their use of formaldehyde, which is essential to the hair smoothing process.Arce, who grew up in southern California and has blue eyes and blond, curly hair with brown streaks, knew she wanted to be a hair stylist since she was a child. I had a little hair salon in my backyard,” she says. “I liked it smooth and straight.” At her sister’s house, Griffin, then 42 and working in the same salon as Arce, combed the soupy, cream-colored solution into Arce’s freshly washed, frizzy hair. Before the heat settled in, Arce’s eyes began to tear up and scorch. The chemicals were still in her hair, though, so there was no choice but to continue the rinsing process.She felt a pain that quickly became shockingly intense, as if someone had shoved an onion in her face and magnified the sting a million times. Days after her first exposure to Brazilian Blowout, Arce continued to have difficulty breathing and sought medical help.“The more formaldehyde there is,” says Eric Eulia, manager of Le Salon East in Manhattan, “the more it will last on your hair.” That Monday afternoon was the first and last time Arce tried Brazilian Blowout. She sometimes had to leave her house with her hair wet because she couldn’t bear what happened when she straightened it. * * * Arce was not the first in her salon to raise concerns about Brazilian Blowout.For weeks after that first treatment, Arce got sick every time she applied heat to her hair. She was, however, very satisfied with the way her hair looked when it was finished that Monday. When she first experienced symptoms, she says some of her co-workers also reported raw, sore throats and were put on antibiotics after providing the treatment to their customers.
Arce says the owner banned all hair smoothing treatments, including Brazilian Blowout, without hesitation.