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A number of the products have been banned in Canada and moves are afoot to outlaw them in the US. South Africa sets the legal maximum concentration of formaldehyde in consumer products at 0.

But products tested by UCT had concentrations of between 0. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen, and is used as a preservative in cosmetic products.

Long-term exposure can cause respiratory and blood cancers and can be harmful to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Khumalo said if you had a Brazilian keratin treatment in , there was a good chance you would have been exposed to a product with too much formaldehyde. All seven commercially available products tested had between 0.

Elfabe Sheppard has been a hairdresser for 28 years and is the owner and principal of the Hair Academy of South Africa. Their students learnt the treatment process using Brazilian Cacau, a brand of Brazilian keratin treatments. Hairdressers apply the product, and then use heat to set the hair.

Formaldehyde allows the proteins of the hair to remain straight, even if exposed to water. Applying the product or inhaling its fumes can expose you to formaldehyde. Sheppard said her students had been using a product that was known to have contained formaldehyde at a supposedly acceptable level.

Then the company told her they had changed their formula to a formaldehyde-free version. She blames the treatment manufacturers. Khumalo notes in her study that women have been straightening their hair for ages using heat and chemicals to get the longest lasting style.

A well-maintained Brazilian keratin treatment can last up to five months. She said authorities in other countries have banned some of these products. Health Canada banned 10 such products in


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