Formaldehyde in Keratin Hair Treatment, Why? And Why Not?

As the story goes, the origins of the “Brazilian Blowout” are in a mortuary in Brazil. A technician there noticed that when he accidentally poured some formalin on people’s hair, it would relax it. Since our hair is considered “dead keratin” anyway, a form of the protein keratin which is not a living organism anymore, how would it affect other people, the living kind?

It works like magic. Something in the formalin, which is the embalming name of formaldehyde, relaxed the hair and made is smooth. The first commercial keratin hair straightening products of this nature came out of Brazil and the name stuck.

Many other products appeared on the market, and the use of this method became very popular and profitable. There are more than 150 keratin hair treatment products on the market containing different amounts of formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable gas that has a pungent odor. It comes under different names: methanal, methylene oxide, oxymethyline, methyladehyde, and oxomethane. When mixed with water it can be referred to a as methylene glycol.

In July 2012, the Department of Health of New York State updated it’s guidelines about the use of formaldehyde in hair products. In a Consumer Health Alert, the department cautioned against the use of those products.
When formaldehyde heats up, it becomes toxic. It can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, throat and skin.

Breathing it in can aggravate people with respiratory diseases.
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen – cancer-causing chemical.
And all those hair straightening treatments use heat to activate the ingredients.

You can inhale formaldehyde when you apply it to your hair, when you use flat iron and blow dryer and you may continue to be exposed to it until it is washed out of your hair. You can also be exposed to it with home use kits.

It is important to note that the people most at risk from exposure to Formaldehyde are the salon workers that deal with the chemicals hours a day on a daily basis. The occasional exposure to the substance from an at home kit, providing strict safety guidelines are followed, is not that great.
The results of the straightening technics using products with formaldehyde are wonderful, but many salons can ask a pretty penny for the procedure and sell you products that you need (sulfate-free shampoo) to maintain the silky look.
The question is, why take the risk? Why bring into your home another carcinogenic substance? Don’t we have enough of those around us all the time? What does it do to small children when they are held up so close to the hair, and play with it?

That is a big why not!


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  • 2K+ Formaldehyde-Free Keratin Treatment
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  • 5K+ Hair Hydration Mask
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I have to admit, when I first heard about K+ Frizz Control I thought it was just another cheap, keratin “knock-off”. Not believing this product would live up to its claims. I'm glad I was wrong, because now I have way more manageable hair, without the frizz (and stinky formaldehyde). - Christie Ramos  

I'm so happy I found an option to control my frizz without using harsh chemicals on my hair. I loved the intense conditioner and how it made my hair very soft. The product made my hair soft without leaving it oily. I would recommend this product to other women, especially with my hair type! - Maria Ventura-Duque  

"This treatment rocks! My hair normally dries up with plenty of frizz, and it's always wavy... I would HIGHLY recommend this to everyone I did it right before my wedding and it lasted months after my honeymoon!" - Natalie Alvarez