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Can hair care harm you?

Posted at 1:46 PM, May 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-19 06:42:11-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Would you ever put formaldehyde on your hair? What about other cancer causing agents? Well you may have already done that without knowing it.

We're showing you the scary truth about some of the personal care products out there and digging around Southwest Florida stores to see if they're lining our shelves.

You'll find all kinds of products on the shelves at Cre8 Salon and Spa.  Many, are all natural, even vegan.

"We all want to eat healthier, we want to feel healthier, so why not use beauty products that are healthy as well? Just makes sense." Owner Marcy Moreno Sagorac says it also made complete sense to pull certain products and services when they realized how unhealthy they were; namely keratin, also known as Brazilian Blowouts.

They straighten and smooth hair with gorgeous results...but "We were getting headaches, we weren't feeling well, we were getting sore throats."

They're not alone.  Over the years, lawsuits have piled up against the makers of Brazilian Blowouts, claiming the formaldehyde in the products was making people sick.  In fact, the Department of Labor issued a hazard alert for these treatments.  And the FDA now requires proper labeling of formaldehyde on the packaging.

But as far as regulating personal care products, Caroline Cox with the Center for Environmental Health in California says it's not as strict as you might think.  "There are products that are not for sale in Europe that would be for sale here in the U.S."

Things that could be found in even the most common items.  Say, your shampoo.

That's concerning, because "you use a fair amount of it and rub it into your scalp."

One example that Cox and her team recently discovered: an ingredient called cocamide DEA.  "The State of California determined that cocomide DEA causes cancer."

Cocamide DEA may sound fancy, but it's basically a form of coconut oil that's altered and used in all kinds of products.

It's purpose.. to make it foam. This is what they call a foaming agent.

Bascially it makes those nice bubbles,  when you're doing your lather.. Rinse.. Repeat.
Cox says there are other ingredients that could get the same foamy effects.. Which begs the question, "why should there be cancer causing chemical in shampoo when we have lots of other ways to make shampoo?".

After a lot of litigation, the State of California successfully banned Cocomide DEA. Close to 100 companies signed legal agreements to stop using the ingredient in California.  Which could benefit those of us in other states.

"The companies aren't going to make one product for California and another for Florida".

Fox 4 went to several local stores to see if we could find any products with Cocmide DEA on the shelves, we couldn't find any.

But we did find an ingredient that sounds similar.. Cocmide MEA and Cocamide MIPA.

So is this something we need to be concerned about too? We asked Cox who says the short answer is... we don't know yet.

"We don't have complete information about what their health effects are." Cox added, "It's a problem with the way we regulate chemicals, it's something that need to change."

Until those changes are made, the best advice she has for you is to look for organic plant based products, that will give you the bubbles, without chemicals that could be bad for you.

If you want to look up any item you use on your body, to show you the good, bad, and ugly about those ingredients... you can you click here.