Do keratin hair-straightening treatments contain formaldehyde?

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 hair treatment options without 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.

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,” New York stylist and salon owner Mark Garrison told us.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.