For the past year or so, I’ve heard a lot about Brazilian blowouts, yet had no idea what they were. The name alone intrigued me; it sounds fun and exotic. I also noticed that it was a really expensive hair treatment, which made it even more intriguing. After wondering for what felt like forever, I decided to Google it. It turns out that a Brazilian blowout, aka a keratin smoothing treatment, is a temporary hair straightening service. Let me tell you a little more about it…
In this article, I will discuss everything there is to know about a Brazilian blowout. I’ll also answer some typical questions like “Will it work on African hair?”, “How does it work?”, and “Does it really have formaldehyde in it?”
How a Brazilian Blowout Works:
A Brazilian blowout works by sealing liquid keratin and a preservative solution into your hair with a hot iron. The iron closes the hair cuticle, which traps the keratin in your hair. It lasts about 3 months and unlike traditional chemical relaxers, it can be used on all types of hair (bleached, colored, permed, etc).
However, unlike a traditional chemical relaxer, there’s no guarantee that your hair will be completely straight. In most cases, it reduces 50-80 percent of the curl, but also eliminates frizz (a common trait with curly hair), and smoothes the hair. It is really good for smoothing damaged hair. For ethnic hair, which is very kinky-curly and coarse, a traditional relaxer would be recommended first, but the Brazilian blowout would help recondition the hair after.
How It’s Performed:
- The first step to performing a Brazilian blowout is to clarify the hair. This removes build-up caused by hair products, shampoo/conditioner (especially yucky stuff like Pantene), and also from medications. Clarifying the hair is always performed before similar services such as permanent waves.
- Next, after the hair is towel dried, the keratin treatment is applied in small subsections from root to end.
- While the product is still in the hair, the hair needs to be blow-dried as straight as possible. When the hair is completely dry, it needs to be flat-ironed, to seal it into the cuticle.
- After the hair is completely straight, rinse it out and recondition it. Then the hair is blow-dried and flat ironed again and styled as wished.
Voila! You have completed a Brazilian blowout!
It is recommended that the customer does not shampoo their hair or use hair ties for four days until the hair settles in.
Why Is It So Expensive?
Besides the obvious (it takes a lot of hair stylists’ time to apply the solution, blow-dry and style your hair not once, but twice), it is a very costly product for us professionals to purchase. The kit to do a keratin treatment costs anywhere from 100-400$ for the hairstylist to purchase.
An alternate version, that is a lot cheaper, is the Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Wild Ginger Kerartriplex smoothing system. If you are a hairstylist, this is good information to keep in mind. If you aren’t, maybe suggest it to your hair stylist.
Another cost to keep in mind is that you need to use specific shampoo/conditioner/styling aids to keep your hair in good condition. There is a brand called “Brazilian Blowout” that makes the best products for it.
Can I Do It Myself?
Ahhhh, the do-it-at-home type… a hairstylist’s nightmare. Remember, you get what you pay for. I would always recommend consulting with a professional who has been trained to do your hair. If not, you risk messing it up. Remember that one time you tried to dye your hair dark brown, but it turned green instead? Also remember, that you had to pay a professional to fix it, which cost more money in the long run? Even with the risks involved, there are still those ones who always want to try it. I don’t blame you. Who can afford a 300$ service in a horrible economy, and that’s why I will recommend the good stuff for do-it-at-home people here. But do keep in mind that it may not turn out as good, may not last as long, and there are some health risks involved, which brings me to my next point……..
What Is The Downside?
There is a lot of controversy that goes along with a Brazilian blowout. Companies that make it claim that it is completely safe. However, it contains illegally high concentrates of bad chemicals in it. It is even banned in certain countries like Canada, and places in Europe.
The main issue is that these products contain aldehyde chemicals, that when heated to a high enough temperature (like that of a flat-iron), mutates into formaldehyde. Companies have tried to disguise some of these chemicals as other names such as Methylene Glycol to keep their name safe. Recently, the FDA has ordered companies to reduce the bad chemicals, and not claim that their product is Formaldehyde-free. Formaldehyde, for those of you who don’t know, is a carcinogen, which means it is known to cause cancer.
Hairstylists that have performed keratin treatments have reported eye disorders, nervous system disorders, respiratory tract problems as well as nausea, chest pains, vomiting, and rash. So I do recommend that you use at your own risk.
I want to wrap this article up with a funny story. Even though I had no idea until recently what a Brazilian blowout was, I’ve actually used the product before. The local beauty supply shop in my town gave me a packet of samples from California Smooth. I had no idea what it was, so therefore I didn’t use it correctly at first. In my head, it was just a keratin conditioning treatment. I used some of it once and applied it just like any other conditioner (I put on my wet hair, let it sit for 5 minutes and then washed it out.)
The second time I tried it, I did read the instructions and did it like you’re supposed to. I remember thinking that it was a weird way to condition my hair but I was bored so I tried it anyway. I also remember seeing the prices in the brochure and thought I was such a baller to use this stuff since it was so expensive. How was I supposed to know I was rocking a hot Brazilian blowout for 3 months? 🙂
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Have you ever performed a Brazilian blowout or had one done? What did you think? I’d love to read your feedback in the comments section below…