Many keratin-based hair smoothing products contain formaldehyde dissolved (and chemically react) in water and other ingredients in the product. Because of the way the formaldehyde reacts in these products, some manufacturers, importers, or distributors might list other names for formaldehyde on product information or might claim that the product is “formaldehyde-free.” Formaldehyde might be listed as methylene glycol, formalin, paraform, methylene oxide, formic aldehyde, oxomethane, oxymethylene, methanal. All of these are names for formaldehyde under OSHA’s Formaldehyde standard. There are also chemicals, such as timonacic acid that can release formaldehyde under certain conditions, such as those present during the hair smoothing treatment process. The bottom line is that formaldehyde can be released from hair smoothing products that list any of these names on the label and workers can breathe it in or absorb it through their skin. Workers can be exposed to formaldehyde during the entire hair straightening process, especially when heat is applied (e.g. blow-drying, flat ironing).
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