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Consumer Confidential: Gen Y favors foreign cars; hair straighteners in spotlight

July 8, 2011 | 10:08 am

Scionpic Here's your faster-than-a-speeding-bullet Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- The U.S. auto industry may be showing signs of life again, but there's new trouble on the horizon. The auto pricing site tracked the brands and individual models bought in 2009 and 2010 by shoppers aged 18 to 27, and not a single brand from a domestic automaker made the Top 10 list. Scion, a brand set up by Toyota Motor specifically aimed at young buyers, was No. 1. Mitsubishi, a name that barely registers with older shoppers, came in second. Some other brands among the top 10, such as Honda and Volkswagen, have a long record of youth appeal. But even the Korean corporate twins Hyundai and Kia, which have recorded surging sales in recent years, appear to have extended their appeal to young buyers as well as older ones. If Detroit can't appeal to Gen Y, it's going to face some serious speed bumps down the road.

-- Heads up, frizzy-haired women: Lawmakers in Congress are asking the Food and Drug Administration to look into whether women who undergo keratin-based hair-straightening treatments, including the popular Brazilian Blowout, are jeopardizing their health. Lawmakers are seeking better regulation and labeling of hair-smoothing products that contain formaldehyde, which is classified as a possible carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency. Formaldehyde can irritate the eyes, skin and lungs, and cause breathing problems. The FDA is still evaluating the data on such hair straighteners, a spokeswoman for the agency says. If you're using such a treatment, or having one applied at a salon, be careful.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Gen Y prefers Toyota's Scion over domestic vehicles. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times