Class action launched against Brazilian Blowout
Published Friday, October 8, 2010 2:47PM PDT Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 11:53PM PDT
Victoria, B.C., stylist Kimberley Ryley said she experienced burning eyes and raw nostrils each time she applied a wildly popular hair straightening treatment to her clients.
She thought the side effects were just from working in a hair salon, until she learned the product, Brazilian Blowout, was found by Health Canada to contain 12 per cent formaldehyde -- 60 times the limit allowed by law for cosmetics.
"We were doing three or four a day. We've been exposed to so much of this chemical," Ryley told CTV News.
"On a long-term basis [it was] a heaviness in the chest, difficulty breathing, sore throats, fatigue," she said.
A day after Health Canada's warned stylists not to use the product; Ryley has launched a class action lawsuit against the makers of the product, which promotes itself as "formaldehyde-free."
Ryley estimates she and her partner used the product as many as 225 times in the past year they've offered it at their Victoria salon. Hailed as a revolution for stylists, it is marketed as a natural alternative to chemical straighteners that keeps hair flat and shiny for many months.
Attorney Darren Williams told ctvbc.ca in a telephone interview he expects hundreds of stylists in B.C. to join the lawsuit within a week, upping the number to 1,000 across the country.
"If the Health Canada report is accurate and the American report is accurate I'm very confident in this case," he said.
Health Canada has received reports of breathing problems and one case of hair loss associated with using Brazilian Blowout. It is believed the reactions are triggered when the solution is heated during ironing and blow-drying the hair. The agency has asked salons to stop using the solution immediately and advises anyone with health effects to see a medical professional.
When inhaled over a long period of time, formaldehyde is known to cause cancer.
Ryley is seeking general damages for health care problems, as well as the loss of past and future earnings for herself and her business reputation for using the product.
"She's looking for accountability. She's been personally injured. She wants this product yanked from the shelf," Williams said.
Merchant Law Group is also seeking punitive damages on the stylist's behalf for what they believe is negligently advertising and distributing the product with unsafe ingredients.
Ryley said she feels misled by the company and wants justice served.
"We're not doing this for just us. We're doing this for all the stylists in Canada and across the world that could possibly have health problems after this," she said. "It's a responsibility we have to ourselves and our clients."
The firm sent samples of the product for independent testing on Friday.
This isn't the first class action launched against Brazilian Blowout.
A Seattle law firm announced Oct. 1 it is investigating the formaldehyde content of the Brazilian Blowout product.
Related: Merchant class action lawsuit