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No More Dirty Looks author Alexandra Spunt on the Brazilian Blowout

Posted Oct 20 2010 4:16am

Siobhan O'Connor and Alexandra Spunt, L to R. (Photo: Carolina Crespo)

Alexandra Spunt, co-author of No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products writes:

Thanks to the wonderful coverage on  this site and elsewhere, the formaldehyde-laced Brazilian blowout is finally getting the  public spanking it deserves. It’s hard to imagine that it was only two years ago now that my best friend Siobhan and I went in for this treatment—giddy with girly excitement, we were clueless as to what we were actually doing, let alone how it would change our futures.

At the time the Brazilian blowout was a hot new item on our favorite salon’s menu, and the stylists there sold us on its virtues. They promised it was a healthy “keratin” treatment that would strengthen our hair, coating it in powerful protein. And so, willing guinea pigs that we were, we made appointments.

If the choking fumes didn’t tip us off, certainly the protective goggles we were given during the blowout should have. But, sting and stench aside, we loved our new super-manageable hair. At least at first we did—but over time our hair changed: It started to look dry and broken, and uncharacteristically flat. My once buoyant afro appeared dramatically damaged, and I  catalogued its decline in computer screenshots that I’d send to Siobhan. She did the same, her formerly thick and healthy blonde mane now riddled with split ends and flyaways.

As we started to fear the worse for our hair—would it ever go back to normal?—we began to look into exactly what the Brazilian blowout was. The now infamous  Scared Straight article from Allure magazine came up almost immediately, sending us into a google-panic so perturbing that it would change the course of our lives.

How on earth was it legal for a hair treatment to contain a known carcinogen like formaldehyde? The answers were (and are still) so unsatisfying, leading only to more questions. It didn’t take long for us to realize that we wanted to write an entire book about this stuff, and that’s exactly what we did.

The opening scene of No More Dirty Looks, our book about unregulated chemicals in cosmetics and the best clean options on the market, starts with two girls happily stuffed into plush salon chairs getting—you guessed it—the Brazilian blowout.

The book goes onto explore how the industry operates—or doesn’t—when it comes to regulation. We also look at some of the best truly clean products on the market, tested by yours truly: Alexandra and Siobhan.

Do we think your lipstick is killing you? No. Do we think you have to throw out everything you own? Of course not. What we do think is that people should be armed with sound information so that they can make the right decisions for themselves. Unfortunately, as long as salons can lie to us about being formaldehyde-free, and companies can make bogus claims about their products—it’s up to us as consumers to seek out this information…

Hopefully we are helping navigate these confusing waters—along with  NadineVirginia and the other savvy beauty bloggers we admire. If there’s a singular reason Siobhan and I wrote No More Dirty Looks, it’s so that women don’t have to panic as we did. Hopefully, the Brazilian blowout’s recent spate of bad press will actually scare people straight this time.

No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics, by Siobhan O’Connor & Alexandra Spunt, $10.17,

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