New device promises safer Keratin treatment

Vented straighteners, charcoal filters remove formaldehyde from air during treatment

ORLANDO, Fla. - Most women will agree the dog days of summer make for bad hair days.

For several years, experts have warned against popular Keratin treatments because of the formaldehyde released into the air during the intense heating of the hair after the treatment is applied.

But new salon procedures and new styling products are helping to make the Keratin procedure safer.

Erin Mills, a stylist at Stella Luca salon, only books one procedure a day and is certain to use a large charcoal filter, which sucks up the steam and potential formaldehyde released into the air.

"You can see the steam right here and see how great that filter works," said Mills as she gave Local 6 a demonstration this month.

Mills said the charcoal filter keep the fumes from poisoning the salon air.

"We wanted to make sure if we were going to offer them we were as safe as possible for our stylists, our customers and staff that works here," said Joy Ulman who owns Stella Luca.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspections have found the elevated levels of formaldehyde in most salons acceptable.

"The short-term effects can cause irritation to the eyes, the mucus membranes. It can trigger asthma, can sometimes cause nosebleeds, anywhere you have mucus membranes you can see irritation," said Orlando Health toxicologist Dr. Josef Thundiyil.

Thundiyil said long-term exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to leukemia and nasal cancer.

And just because a product doesn't say it contains formaldehyde doesn't mean it's safe.

"One of the scary things is many of the products don't say formaldehyde on the bottle and there's about 16 other chemicals. If you go to OSHA's website they're listed there, that convert to formaldehyde once applied or ironed," said Thundiyil.

That is why ventilation is so important and why customers should make sure their stylist is either sucking up the fumes at the source, or investing in filters that clean the air in your salon.

"It makes people feel more comfortable like we went above and beyond what other businesses are doing," said Ulman.

Stella Luca salon did go above and beyond by getting a full day in-salon inspection done by the University of South Florida in partnership with OSHA.

To make sure the treatment you're getting is safe, confirm that your stylist is certified to do the treatment. Go in and actually check out the salon.

Determine that it is open and well ventilated. Also, ask if they have added filters.

Click here to know which chemicals release formaldehyde.

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