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What is a Brazilian Blowout?

By Amanda R. Bell
Updated May 21, 2024
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A Brazilian blowout is a hair smoothing treatment performed in a salon. It utilizes keratin, the protein that makes up hair and nails, to restore luster and softness to almost all hair types. The treatment is comprised of several steps that take, on average, an hour and a half to complete. Results can last up to three months with the use of the proper products. While a traditional Brazilian blowout contains no formaldehyde, a common component of other salon straightening methods, studies have found that some serums do contain this carcinogen. Therefore, care is needed when choosing a hair salon to administer the treatment.

The process begins with a clarifying treatment to remove excess dirt and product buildup from the hair. This stage is essential in ensuring the keratin can penetrate the hair shaft. The serum is then applied to the hair while it is wet. This is usually done in small sections with a hair color brush to make sure every hair is coated.

Once the keratin treatment is applied, the hair is thoroughly dried with a blow dryer and straightened as much as possible. Once the hair is dry, it is then straightened with a very hot flat iron, at least 450° Fahrenheit (232° Celsius), in tiny sections. This part of the process takes the longest, especially for those with very thick hair, long hair, or an abundance of hair.

After the hair is completely straight, it is washed and dried again, thus completing the Brazilian blowout. In most cases, the hair is left shiny and smooth. While this hair treatment does not always make hair perfectly straight, it can allow those with naturally curly or wavy hair to style their hair straight in a fraction of the time it would usually take. It can also restore the look of health to overprocessed hair and improve the body of thin or limp hair.

A Brazilian blowout can last for up to three months if specialized products are used to wash, condition, and style the hair. Unlike other straightening treatments, such as the Japanese system, there is no awkward growing-out stage. The hair simply returns to its former state once the keratin completely leaves the hair. It is also possible to dye or highlight the hair either immediately before or two weeks after the Brazilian blowout with little risk of damage to the hair.

Brazilian blowouts should only be performed by a hair stylist who is certified in the process. It is also important to verify with the salon and stylist that the products used do not contain formaldehyde, especially if a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding. When done properly, a Brazilian blowout can dramatically improve the look, feel, and manageability of one’s hair.

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Discussion Comments

By anon950318 — On May 09, 2014

The BB was great on my hair the first four times. It was so straight and flat, but my ears stuck out, so I changed the part of my hair, and it was smooth and shiny. Then, the treatments quit working. Twice, I had them re-done. Most recently, the best stylist did it again. It had worked two years before. This time it straightened but did not cut the frizz. Not a success.

Unless someone can explain why it no longer works (it is not the product, nor the skill, nor the method), then I believe the ingredients were altered to get the formaldehyde out.

By anon213798 — On Sep 12, 2011

I want to do it but am scared. I read several other articles that say they might cause cancer. Is this true? My hair is extremely frizzy, not curly!

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