Haircare Australia, a company that provides products to more than 5500 hairdressers across the country, has recalled 158 bottles of ''Brazilian Blowout'' after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission discovered its high formaldehyde content. Less than half of the bottles - just 77 - have been retrieved.
ACCC documents revealed the commission was concerned because ''there is a substantial degree of scientific evidence that formaldehyde can be a dangerous substance, can be toxic, allergenic and carcinogenic, and when inhaled can cause headaches, a burning sensation in the throat and difficulty with breathing''.
The action comes after recalls of seven other hair-straightening products over the last two years in Australia because of excessive formaldehyde. The latest recall also comes after US politicians recently called for better regulation and labeling of such products because of fears formaldehyde was making people sick.
The ACCC said Brazilian Blowout was advertised and promoted as ''formaldehyde-free'' last year before independent testing revealed it was 10 per cent formaldehyde. With the help of celebrities, the product has been heavily marketed worldwide as a straightener that smooths hair and reduces frizz.
ACCC deputy chairman Peter Kell said Australian consumer law required accurate labelling so consumers and businesses could make informed choices. ''These misrepresentations may have seen numerous people unknowingly exposed to potentially harmful chemicals," he said.
Mr Kell said Haircare Australia, which has distribution centres in Melbourne, Perth and Hobart, had acknowledged its representations were likely to have misled consumers. It has since undertaken not to make false or misleading representations about the contents or ingredients of its products and that it would ensure all its brochures and marketing materials complied with relevant laws.
Haircare Australia refused to answer questions about how many people were likely to have used the product. But its undertaking to the ACCC said Brazilian Blowout was unlikely to have been sold to individuals, but rather used as a professional salon treatment.
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