Brazilian hair scare


Wits Beaty Theatre stylist, Peace Goronga. Photo: Percy Matshoba

Hair salons in Braamfontein are still offering treatments for Brazilian Blow Outs despite recent reports finding many contain the cancer-causing chemical formaldehyde.

According to a study that was recently done by the University of Cape Town, six Brazilian keratin treatments, which are labelled formaldehyde-free, have been found to contain the cancer-causing chemical.

City Press recently named these products as: Re+5 Brazilian Keratin Treatment Formaldehyde Free, Cadiveu Brazilian Cacau Keratin Treatment,  Inoar Professional Brazilian Blow Dry, Hair-Liss Professional Line Keratin Treatment Chocolate and Medusa Professional Complex Brazilian Keratin Treatment.

The Wits Beauty Theatre salon on the corner of Jorissen and Station Street confirmed they use Brazilian Keratin treatment. Stylist Peace Goronga said they believe ”it is good for hair because it makes it silky straight”.

A stylist from a local salon, Teal Freeman, said Brazilian Blow outs need to be done in moderation. “Generally every few months should be okay,” she said.

Freeman told Wits Vuvuzela it is highly advisable for a stylist to use a mask when applying the treatment as failure to do so could result in breathing problems and other sicknesses.

She said formaldehyde is like any other chemical and can easily affect humans if they are overexposed to it.

“All chemicals if used in any amount can be harmful – just like if you eat too much food, it can also be dangerous,”

L’Oreal Institute stylist and co-ordinator Rocky Makhubo said their salon uses the “extensive” range instead of keratin as it is safer for clients.

Dr. Pranar K. Tripathi, a carbon material specialist at Wits who specialises in formaldehyde, said the chemical cannot cause cancer if it is not mixed with benzene.

“All chemicals if used in any amount can be harmful – just like if you eat too much food, it can also be dangerous,” he said.

Tripathi said he had not assessed the products and had not yet had a chance to see the UCT study.

As reported in City Press, Medusa Professional’s Denzil Ferreira said the product’s formaldehyde content was not indicated on the labelling but was reduced to 0.05% after UCT’s research was done.

“I became aware of the formaldehyde content about a year and a half ago. The supplier had told me the product was formaldehyde-free. Little did I know they used aldehyde, which is the same thing. This was their reason for calling it formaldehyde-free,” Ferreira reportedly said.

Nadine Bekaardt, a BCom Finance honours student at Wits, said she had always wanted to do the Brazilian treatment and that she was not aware that some of the products could cause cancer. “Now that I know that it can cause cancer I will think three times at least before I do it,” she said.

Third year chemical engineering student Rene King said she has done a Brazilian treatment before and the next time she goes she will opt for the organic product.