(WMC-TV) – One Memphis woman went in for a hair-do and came out with a hair-don't. Now she says the hair treatment she says is putting her health at risk.
The Brazilian Blowout is under attack by the federal government and now at the root of a Memphis woman's lawsuit.
"I've been growing my natural hair for seven years," said Rebekah Fair.
But the hair you see on Fair's hair is not her natural hair.
She was forced to get extensions after she says a hair smoothing treatment destroyed her real locks and left her in emotional and physical pain.
"I did not think that I was taking a life threatening chance getting any kind of procedure, let alone putting chemicals on my hair," she said.
In July of 2010, Fair was dazzled by a sales pitch for a Brazilian Blowout at the salon inside the Life Time Fitness Center in Collierville.
"The Brazilian blowout was an all natural chemical and formaldehyde free agent that could smooth my hair temporarily," she said.
She was thrilled with the results, but said the process was incredibly uncomfortable.
"My eyes were burning," she said. "The person that was doing my hair - her face was burning; her eyes were burning."
Fair said she was never offered the required mask to filter the fumes.
"No ventilation was around me," she said. "There were no open windows."
And she weeks said her problems began six weeks later.
"Each time I combed my hair, globs of hair… would actually come out."
The breakage was so severe, Fair was forced to wear a wig and get help from her full time stylist.
"The curly hair was so much stronger than the hair that had been processed - that it literally was snapping off," said Tanzi Rene Muldrew, a stylist at Le Tre Salon.
Muldrew didn't fall for the Brazilian Blowout sales pitch when a rep visited her salon.
"These companies are just throwing products at us," she said. "We are guinea pigs to them all."
In April of 2011, everyone learned the awful truth about Brazilian Blowout.
An OSHA investigation revealed formaldehyde levels in the product as high as 11.8 percent.
The safety limit in beauty products is 0.2 percent.
"I have undergone emotional trauma," said Fair. "I have gone through long periods of depression."
The U.S. Department of Human Services has since accused Brazilian Blowout of lying about the product's ingredients and failing to warn consumers about potential dangers like respiratory problems, disorders of the eyes and nervous system.
Fair said she has been exhibiting some of those symptoms.
"Pain in my legs, not necessarily joints or muscle, but specifically nerves."
She has filed a lawsuit against the Collierville Life Time Fitness franchise and its corporate parent asking for $1.5 million in damages.
An attorney for Life Time Incorporated declined Action News 5's request for an on-camera interview, but did say by phone: "It would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing litigation. We are definitely defending the claim."
"The person that's doing your hair is just as responsible for protecting you as the person that is formulating and making a product," said Fair.
Life Time Fitness has stopped offering the Brazilian Blowout, but the product hasn't been pulled off the market and Rebekah Fair has a warning for potential clients.
"No one else's research should ever replace your research," she said.
Just last week, Brazilian Blowout settled a lawsuit with the state of California. The company is now required to warn stylists and users some of the products release formaldehyde gas - which could cause cancer.
"The labeling and marketing and advertising changes agreed to in the settlement have already been in place for months," Brazilian Blowout said in a statement. "We are pleased to have this matter behind us and are confident these new practices will provide certified stylists who use our products each day and their loyal customers clarity and confidence."