• Motto

The Products Behind Your Brazilian Blowout Are at the Center of a Legal Dispute

2 minute read

Your blowout may be putting your hair stylist at risk.

New York Magazine reported that Women’s Voices for Earth and the Environmental Working Group filed a lawsuit alleging that the FDA failed to regulate hair straightening treatments that include the chemical formaldehyde, which can cause irritation, headaches and dizziness. The two groups take the most issue with Brazilian blowouts, which involves liquid being applied to hair and treated with hot hair-styling tools, causing formaldehyde to be released into the air and putting stylists and clients at risk.

“For years stylists have reported that the application of these hair treatments caused difficulty breathing, eye irritation and nosebleeds,” Tina Sigurdson, the assistant general counsel for the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement. “The FDA has been aware of the health hazards associated with the products since at least 2008. Despite these dangers, the FDA has yet to take action to remove them from the market.”

Read More: Illinois Will Train Hairdressers to Spot Domestic Violence

The Environmental Working Group filed a citizen petition in 2011 asking that the FDA take action on the products. The FDA, which told CNN that it was unable to comment on pending litigation, issued warning letters to two companies that make the straightening products. But the FDA hasn’t issued a ban or a public warning about the chemicals, and the two groups are asking in their lawsuit that the FDA respond and further investigate the products.

Under current law, most cosmetic products don’t need pre-approval from the FDA before they can go on the market. The FDA will intervene when the product poses health dangers — but, according to CNN, only nine out of the about 6,000 chemicals used in personal care products have ever been banned “because they are like truly the equivalent of poisons.”

If Women’s Voices for Earth and the Environmental Working Group get their way in court, the products behind your Brazilian blowout may join that short list.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Write to Samantha Cooney at samantha.cooney@time.com