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Hair Care & Advice

Brazilian Blowouts: the good, the bad & the ugly

With summer upon us, the term Brazilian brings to mind painful bikini waxes and teeny-weeny bikini bottoms, but there's another kind of Brazilian that's all about, well, taming the hair up there. That's right, the Brazilian Blowout. 

 

For many of us, the warmer weather means swapping out your extensive hair styling routine for something more low key and minimal. When you're in and out of the pool or lounging at the beach, the last thing you want to worry about is styling your hair for dinner, only to have the humidity or the water ruin your hard work. But if you weren't blessed with the smooth, silky hair gene, it's hard to give up on heat styling without relinquishing yourself to frizzy, unruly hair. That is, until the Brazilian Blowout. 

Chances are you've heard plenty about this hair craze: everything from rave reviews to warnings about the harmful chemicals that can cause alarming health effects. So whether you're just curious about the smoothing treatment or are seriously considering scheduling in a visit to the salon to kick off summertime, we've got everything you need to know about the salon treatment that's just about as mainstream as the formerly ground-breaking waxing trend. 

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What is a Brazilian Blowout, anyway? 

As the name indicates, the Brazilian Blowout is a professional semi-permanent hair smoothing treatment typically lasting about 3 months. It originated in Brazil in 2005 before spreading to North America and Europe. It's speedy rise to prominence in Brazil can be attributed to the humid climate and largely curly-haired population. 

The transformative treatment is essentially made from liquid keratin and works by binding to the hair to form a protective layer around each strand which eliminates frizz, seals the cuticle, and protects from damage. Other ingredients included in the Brazilian Blowout include camu camu, acai berry, and annatto seed, all of which are native to Brazil. 

What will my hair look like after a Brazilian Blowout?

After treatment, your hair will have a glass-like sheen, feel soft and hydrated, and look healthy. As far as straightening your hair completely, not all Brazilian Blowouts are alike and a lot of how your hair turns out depends on the technique your stylist uses. Basically, once the treatment is applied, your stylist will seal it in by running a flat iron through your hair. The more your stylist straightens your hair, the straighter the result. 

We recommend communicating with your stylist and being clear about your desired result. For example, if you like to leave your hair wavy but want to eliminate the frizz, your stylist can tailor the treatment to maintain your natural texture whilst smoothing it out and making it more manageable. 

While everyone is a good candidate for a Brazilian Blowout, including those who have color-treated, permed, or relaxed hair, someone with naturally smooth, straight hair would not really benefit. Also, it's important to have reasonable expectations and take your natural texture into account. In other words, if your hair is naturally very curly, you're not going to wind up with pin straight hair right after a shower. However, a Brazilian Blowout can certainly cut down your drying time significantly. Many women find that their hair is easier to style overall, air dries without frizz and lots of body, and can be blow dried or straightened in half the time or less. 

What to expect during a Brazilian Blowout treatment

Generally, a Brazilian Blowout treatment will take 1 to 2 hours depending on the length and thickness of your hair. Your stylist will begin the process by shampooing your hair 3 to 4 times to remove product buildup and oil to ensure the treatment adheres to your strands properly. The next step is to apply the Brazilian Blowout formula to sections of your hair from root to tip, ensuring each strand is thoroughly coated. The hair will then be blow dried and flat ironed to seal in the treatment. Finally, your hair will be rinsed and deep conditioned before being blow dried a final time. Typically, you're advised to avoid washing your hair for 48 hours to maximize the lifespan of your treatment. 

It's important to use a gentle, sulfate-free and chlorine-free shampoo after a Brazilian Blowout. Typically, your treatment should last 3 to 4 months with proper care and maintenance, and even longer if you wash your hair less frequently. 

Does getting a Brazilian Blowout have harmful health effects?

The fact is, Brazilian Blowouts have come a long way thanks to more stringent regulations and awareness surrounding the toxicity of chemicals like formaldehyde. However, it is still a chemical treatment and there are numerous brands which manufacture variations of the Brazilian Blowout treatment so it's important to go to a stylist you trust who can ensure the treatment is conducted safely and who uses a trusted brand. 

If you live in Canada or the European Union, you're in luck because formaldehyde, a common ingredient in Brazilian Blowouts which helps to effectively straighten the hair, is banned. However, while regulations have been set in place, the ingredient is still permitted in the United States. Formaldehyde, along with methylene glycol are both active ingredients in a Brazilian Blowout which are responsible for binding the keratin to the hair, so while you may be compromising efficacy a little bit, we recommend steering clear of these ingredients or looking for brands which use minimal amounts. 

Furthermore, since formaldehyde has been classified as a major occupational hazard, a known carcinogen, and has been associated with nasal and eye irritation, along with being implicated in the development of childhood asthma, it's vital to do your research and see a stylist you trust. It also doesn't hurt to wear a mask during the treatment to protect yourself from any potential risks. 

While it's better to be safe than sorry, in most cases, Brazilian Blowout varieties are safe. However, there have been instances of stylists using banned varieties since they yield a more effective result, so be sure to ask for the brand name ahead of time and do your research. 

The safety verdict on Brazilian Blowouts 

For the most part, Brazilian Blowout formulas that dominate the marketplace nowadays aren't harmful. While some varieties contain formaldehyde, the amount is very minimal. If the treatment is done correctly, your hair will feel healthier and more moisturized afterward. If your hair feels damaged after a treatment, chances are your stylist is going over your hair too hard and at too high a temperature with a flat iron causing breakage and heat damage

Have you ever tried out the Brazilian Blowout? Considering booking an appointment in the hopes of cutting down your styling time this summer? Let us know in the comments below! 

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Posted by Sophie Lalani

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