The Billings Outpost

Salon safety examined

By DEB COURSON SMITH - Big Sky Connection

BOZEMAN – Montana has a connection to high fashion.

Bozeman-based Women’s Voices for the Earth has been working on salon safety issues related to Brazilian Blowouts, a popular hair-straightening treatment that now comes with a warning label in California as part of a settlement between that state and companies.

The settlement requires that hair stylists and their customers be warned of exposure to a cancer-causing chemical. Alexandra Scranton, WVE’s director of science and research, says salon workers across the nation are exposed to dangerous levels of formaldehyde from the products.

“We’re really pleased to see California is using the authority it has to hold the company responsible for how it’s communicating about its product, and let consumers know that yes, this product does contain formaldehyde, which is dangerous,” she said.

Formaldehyde is a carcinogen, according to the U.S. National Toxicology Program, and can cause both serious and long-term health effects, including breathing difficulties, bloody noses and nausea. Brazilian Blowout products have been banned for more than a year in Canada. 

An investigation last year by the Environmental Working Group found that 16 companies include formaldehyde in their hair-smoothing products, according to spokeswoman Leeann Brown.

“We’re really calling on the [Food and Drug Administration] to ban formaldehyde as an ingredient in these popular products, so consumers and salon workers aren’t inhaling a known human carcinogen.”

The settlement also requires the manufacturers to post the carcinogen warning on websites, and limit sale of the products to professional, licensed stylists. 

More information is online at


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