Brazilian Blowout settles with California attorney general over 'formaldehyde-free' advertising

Brazilian Blowout, a hair-smoothing treatment that can soar to $300 a pop, has reached a settlement with the California attorney general after falsely advertising two of its most popular products as being "safe" and "formaldehyde-free."

The settlement will force Brazilian Blowout to change its advertising, as well as overhaul its website and pay $600,000 in fees and penalties.

The office originally filed suit against GIB LLC (Brazilian Blowout's parent company) in November, blasting it for lying in ads and failing to issue warning labels about the product's use of a carcinogen.

"California laws protect consumers and workers and give them fair notice about the health risks associated with the products they use," said attorney general Kamala Harris in a statement. "This settlement requires the company to disclose any hazard so that Californians can make more informed decisions."

Labels for Brazilian Blowout products have long claimed to "contain no formaldehyde," and before that they were "formaldehyde-free." What they do contain is methylene glycol — a liquid form of the chemical that emits a formaldehyde gas when heated.

In the past, GIB LLC has argued that the levels of formaldehyde emitted were within safety limits.

"OSHA has very clear guidelines on formaldehyde emissions," Mike Brady, CEO of GIB LLC, told ABC last year. "Our product has never exceeded those guidelines ever."

GIB LLC could not be reached for comment on the settlement.

The procedure is a popular (and lucrative) treatment across Los Angeles salons, and a mainstay option on websites like LivingSocial and Groupon.

Pasadena salon owner Jazmine Zakarian says that Brazilian Blowouts have gained popularity in the last two years, and that while the treatments saw a dip after the formaldehyde controversy first hit the news, "People ask a lot of questions... but in the end, they get it done."

"You know what? A chemical's a chemical," said Zakarian, a hairdresser of 15 years who herself gets regular "Brazilians." "I work with color all day. It is what it is. It's a part of the industry."

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