The settlement requires GIB, which does business under the name Brazilian Blowout, to cease deceptive advertising that describes two of its popular products as formaldehyde-free and safe. The company must also make significant changes to its website and pay $600,000 in fees, penalties and costs.
"California laws protect consumers and workers and give them fair notice about the health risks associated with the products they use," said Attorney General Harris. "This settlement requires the company to disclose any hazard so that Californians can make more informed decisions."
Still work to be done
The move was welcomed by many organizations, in particular the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics who have been monitoring this case it developed and have been extremely vocal in its desire for companies to be forced to publicly disclose the presence of cancer-causing chemicals in cosmetics sold in the state of California.
“We commend the California Attorney General’s office for accomplishing what no other government agency in the U.S. has been able to do: force Brazilian Blowout to be honest with salons about the risk of their products,” co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Stacy Malkan told CosmeticsDesign.com.
“But the legal settlement, while helpful, is not enough to protect the public. The FDA must now follow through on its threat to seize these dangerous hair-straightening products.”
First US government enforceable action
The settlement is the first government enforceable action in the United States to address the exposures to formaldehyde gas associated with Brazilian Blowout products, and is also the first law enforcement action under California's Safe Cosmetics Act, a right-to-know law enacted in 2005.
In November 2010, the Attorney General's office filed suit against GIB for violating five state laws, including deceptive advertising and failure to provide consumers with warnings about the presence of a carcinogen in its products.
The settlement covers two products used in a popular salon hair straightening process, the "Brazilian Blowout Acai Smoothing Solution" and the "Brazilian Blowout Professional Smoothing Solution".
The complaint alleged that that GIB did not inform customers or workers that formaldehyde gas was being released during a Brazilian Blowout treatment, and therefore product users did not take steps to reduce their exposure, such as increasing ventilation.