INSIDE EDITION Investigates Brazilian Blowout

Some say chemicals used in certain hair straightening procedures can be dangerous. Is the quest for beautiful hair putting people at risk? INSIDE EDITION investigates.

In Portland, Oregon, some hair stylists say fumes from a popular hair treatment made them sick. Stylists complained of burning eyes, wheezing, dryness of the eyes, bloody nose, and chest pain lasting a couple of days.

It's called the Brazillian Blowout. Treatments start at $350. But women love it because it turns frizzy or curly hair into straight, smooth, sexy hair, and it lasts for months! But now the question is, what's in it?

The label states the product is formaldehyde-free. Formaldehyde is a chemical that has been linked to lung cancer and leukemia.

But government officials say tests show that Brazillian Blowout has "significant levels of formaldehyde."

"I was blatantly lied to. And if i'm lied to, I'm lying to my clients. There's no trust there," said Portland stylist Chelsea Jenkins.

"We're not doing any more Brazilian blowouts in this salon," said salon owner Pauline Steiner.

Many salons across the country have now stopped offering the treatment, which takes 90 minutes to apply to the hair and is then heated with a blow dryer and flat iron.

In New York, salon owner Mark Garrison no longer uses it, and now even requires his stylists and customers to wear gas masks for similar types of treatments.

Garrison said, "I care. I'm going to take every effort to create a safe environment if we're going to do this stuff."

Brazillian Blowout's Mike Brady insists the product is formaldehyde-free, and claims the government's tests are flawed.

INSIDE EDITION's Lisa Guerrero asked Brady, "Is Brazilian Blowout safe?"

"Absolutely," said Brady. "My problem is how they're misleading the public."

Brady points out that even the government tests show air quality falls within government standards when Brazillian Blowout is used.

INSIDE EDITION taped a Brazillian Blowout sales rep on hidden camera at a training session in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is what he says stylists should tell clients who ask about formaldehyde in the product:

"Let them know that an apple has twice as much. Broccoli has like 4 times as much. Just broccoli."

Scientist Renee Sharp of the Environmental Working Group in Berkeley, California says the apple and broccoli comments are just ludicrous, saying, "That's just patently false."

But there's more. The sales rep told the audience the active ingredient in Brazilian Blowout is methalyne glycol.

"Methalyne glycol is essentially formaldehyde," said Sharp.

In addition, federal guidelines clearly state that another term for formaldehyde is methalyne glycol.

INSIDE EDITION's Lisa Guerrero pointed this out to Brady, showing him a document from the U.S. Department of Labor. "As you can clearly see there, they say it is synonymous with formaldehyde," said Guerrero.

Brady resonded, saying, "Okay. It's inaccurate."

Guerrero said, "So, they're wrong."

"They are," said Brady.

Guerrero then asks, "What would you say to consumers who are concerned about Brazillian Blowout?"

"Call up your stylist and make an appointment," said Brady.

Last month, the California Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Brazilian Blowout, alleging the company engaged in deceptive advertising by calling its products "formaldehyde-free."

Brazilian Blowout denies the allegations contained in the California Attorney General's office. 

Brazilian Blowout has also been named as a defendant in class-action complaints from consumers across the country who claim false advertising.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reportedly about to announce findings of its investigation into Brazilian Blowout and similar products.

UPDATE:  Brazilian Blowout has filed a lawsuit against Oregon OSHA, claiming in part, the government agency reported “false and misleading test results” which have damaged the company’s business.  The company is seeking unspecified damages, as well as an injunction that would stop Oregon OSHA from continuing to report those test results.  Officials from Oregon OSHA have not yet responded to the complaint.