Ever since government agencies like the F.D.A. revealed that Brazilian keratin hair straightening products may still contain formaldehyde in spite of labeling claims that state otherwise, the phrase “keratin hair treatment” has taken a reputation hit by way of guilt by association.
In the wake of the Brazilian Blowout scandal that has many seeking alternative routes to achieve smooth, glossy and manageable hair, there is a promising new crop of keratin options (sans formaldehyde) to choose from.
The challenge? You need to first distinguish between the truly formaldehyde free versions and those that merely just profess to be. Ingredient labeling in today’s industry is notoriously misleading to the consumer, with brands that contain the caustic chemical often claiming “Formaldehyde Free” on the label.
The Environmental Working Group (E.W.G.) has done much of the work for you already, by making the most extensive analysis of formaldehyde-containing hair treatments available for viewing online, via the consumer advocacy group’s “Brands That Hide Formaldehyde” report.
A list of 16 different brands are found to contain the toxic chemical, and all names are listed alongside the percentage of contained carcinogenic. Of those brands, a staggering 15 claim, label and brand themselves as having either little or no formaldehyde at all.
However, with new products jumping into the saturated space all the time, you shouldn’t treat the list as all-inclusive.
Another glaring red giveaway you can be on the lookout for is the claim that a product will “straighten” your hair. “If you want to straighten the hair, you have to change the chemical composition of it, and only formaldehyde can do that,” says New York stylist and salon owner, Mark Garrison.
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