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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Settlement Requiring Honest Advertising over Brazilian Blowout Products

Monday, January 30, 2012
Contact: (415) 703-5837

SAN FRANCISCO -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced a settlement with the manufacturer of Brazilian Blowout products that will require the company to warn consumers and hair stylists that two of its most popular hair smoothing products emit formaldehyde gas.

The settlement requires GIB, LLC, which does business under the name Brazilian Blowout, to cease deceptive advertising that describes two of its popular products as formaldehyde-free and safe. The company must also make significant changes to its website and pay $600,000 in fees, penalties and costs.

“California laws protect consumers and workers and give them fair notice about the health risks associated with the products they use,” said Attorney General Harris. “This settlement requires the company to disclose any hazard so that Californians can make more informed decisions.”

Today’s settlement is the first government enforceable action in the United States to address the exposures to formaldehyde gas associated with Brazilian Blowout products. It is also the first law enforcement action under California’s Safe Cosmetics Act, a right-to-know law enacted in 2005.

In November 2010, the Attorney General’s office filed suit against GIB, LLC for violating five state laws, including deceptive advertising and failure to provide consumers with warnings about the presence of a carcinogen in its products.

The settlement covers two products used in a popular salon hair straightening process, the “Brazilian Blowout Acai Smoothing Solution” and the “Brazilian Blowout Professional Smoothing Solution”.

The complaint alleged the two products contained formaldehyde but were labeled “formaldehyde free.”
Proposition 65 requires businesses to notify Californians about certain exposures to chemicals in the products they purchase. Formaldehyde is on the Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer.

The complaint alleged that that GIB – the manufacturer of the Brazilian Blowout products – did not inform customers or workers that formaldehyde gas was being released during a Brazilian Blowout treatment, and therefore product users did not take steps to reduce their exposure, such as increasing ventilation. Under the terms of the settlement, GIB is required to:

- Produce a complete and accurate safety information sheet on the two products that includes a Proposition 65 cancer warning; distribute this information to recent product purchasers who may still have product on hand; and distribute it with all future product shipments. The revised safety information sheet -- known as a “Material Safety Data Sheet,” or MSDS -- will be posted on the company’s web site.

- Affix “CAUTION” stickers to the bottles of the two products to inform stylists of the emission of formaldehyde gas and the need for precautionary measures, including adequate ventilation.

- Cease deceptive advertising of the products as formaldehyde-free and safe; engage in substantial corrective advertising, including honest communications to sales staff regarding product risks; and change numerous aspects of Brazilian Blowout’s web site content.

- Retest the two products for total smog-forming chemicals (volatile organic compounds) at two Department of Justice-approved laboratories, and work with DOJ and the Air Resources Board to ensure that those products comply with state air quality regulations.

- Report the presence of formaldehyde in its products to the Safe Cosmetics Program at the Department of Public Health.

- Disclose refund policies to consumers before the products are purchased.

- Require proof of professional licensing before selling “salon use only” products to stylists.

GIB will also pay $300,000 in Proposition 65 civil penalties, and $300,000 to reimburse the Attorney General’s office fees and costs.

A copy of the settlement is attached to the online version of this release at www.oag.ca.gov.

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