Sunday, July 4, 2010

I'll Take Not all Brazilians are Baldies for 100 Alex


When I told folks that I was going to have a Brazilian Keratin Treatment this weekend, they arched their eyebrows and looked confused as if I had committed a felonious overshare. I then found myself in the awkward position of explaining that I was not referring to what the Kardashian Sisters do to each other as recreation (please click the link, you must see it to believe it). It's a hair straightening process.

Being that I am a licensed (but nonpracticing) hair professional, it was important to me to understand what I was getting into, so I did exhaustive research on the process. Please bear in mind that this is not a recommendation, just a collection of information that you can use to help you form your own opinion:

What is it: It is a temporary "resurfacing" of the hair shaft which uses a flat iron to bake a keratin solution into the hair. I would call it a resurfacing more than a straightening because the keratin does not completely penetrate the hair shaft. The baked on protien creates a glossy and frizz free result that maintains some body and wave, but resists humidity, prevents frizz and softens curl.

How long does it take: I was in and out in 1hr and10 min, but I have somewhat fine hair. Thick hair would probably take closer to 2 hrs.

How long does it last: I don't really know. My stylist said that with proper care, it could last 4-6 months, though most products claim 2-3 months on average.

Why it's different from other straightening methods: It is not permanent and washes out gradually over time. Hair eventually reverts to its original texture.



1) Hair resists humidity, so your hair stays the way you style it. In my area the summers are particularly brutal and humid, so I usually spend the summer looking like a rouge colored cotton ball. Having smooth hair is unheard of in the summer. Woot!

2) Hair dries fast. Five minutes seems to be the average time. I am guessing that this is because the hair is sealed, maybe it is not taking on as much water, so it dries faster. But that's just a guess.

3) Shine, shine, shine. I have always wanted shiny hair, but frizz is generally not reflective, so that's wasn't possible for me for about four months out of the year.

4) There is a formaldehyde free product available called Brazilian Blow Out (my salon did not have all of the components in yet or I would have gotten that one - next time). This product claims to be 100% formaldehyde free. The jury is out on how long it lasts though. Without any experience with the product, my stylist wasn't able to give me an estimate.

5) It's not a chemical, so you can put it on top of prior chemical services without concern. It can supposedly go on top of highlights, color, relaxed or permed hair. It is supposed to improve the texture and shine of hair that has been dried out by these other processes. My hair is color treated and I did not have any issue.

6) Non damaging and hair maintains body. Other straightening processes are (relaxers, Japanese straightening) are fairly harsh chemicals and can take a toll on the hair. They also leave the hair poker straight and without body. Keratin maintains body in the hair.

7) No line of demarcation. When other straighteners grow out, there is a wavy line of new growth against the pin straight ends. This eventually has to be touched up. Keratin washes out of the hair shaft evenly and gets reapplied to the entire head without concern for damage or breakage from overlapping.

8) The results:


1) It is not swim-friendly. As a matter of fact, avoiding saltwater and chlorine completely would be the best way to go as they both tend to pull the product out of the hair and shorten the lifespan of the process.

2) It contains formaldehyde. Depending on which brand is used, it could contain very little or an unsafe level of formaldehyde. The product used on me is supposedly tested and controlled to maintain a .02% level, which is supposedly a "safe" level for the customer (though for the operator giving repeat treatment, is any level "safe"?). The formaldehyde fumes can irritate lungs, eyes and nasal passages. Salons should be doing this process with proper ventilation.

I gave a lot of thought to this and almost backed out of the process as a result, however, when I weighed the frequency of the service with other exposure risks (ie. nail salons, etc) I realized that, as a pretty low maintenance woman, my exposure is pretty low.

The formaldehyde vapors are released when the hair is dried and flat iron and my eyes did burn a little when the front of my hair was blow dried. Other than that, I did not notice any fumes or experience any other discomfort. Most salons offer goggles and ear covers for protection.

3) You have to use sulfate and sodium free shampoo, which is very tough to find. Ultimately, you end up buying the maintenance products from the salon, which will cost an extra $50 on top of the process cost.

4) You can't wash your hair, sweat or get your hair wet for up to four days after the treatment, depending on the product used. I used a product that can be washed in 24 hours. I wouldn't have made it 4 days.

5) It's expensive. Depending on the salon and the product used, the process can cost anywhere from $150 to $350 dollars.

6 Your comments, banter and witty repartee:

linlah said...

How well does it work on cantankerous gray hair, you know the ones that are all kinky and stand straight up?

Beth Zimmerman said...

Goodness gracious! And that Kardashian video I could have lived a LONG time without exposing my eyes to! :)

Kate said...

Well, given that your hair looks amazing (really), I'd say you don't need to go in the pool, anyway. Women with hair like that are meant to sit BY the pool, idly waving over cabana boys and waxing poetic on the latest sale at Saks. So get to it.

Linda Medrano said...

Your hair looks incredible! Stay outa the water! Take bubble baths! Keep the hair looking good!

Aging Mommy said...

Well in the 100F temperatures we endure all summer here and with her love for the pool my daughter and I are in the pool every day so a hair treatment like that is definitely out, but it sounds and looks pretty wonderful - oh to have manageable, non flyaway shiny hair!!!

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Linlah - ooh, good question. . . dunno.

Beth Z - Those sisters need a new hobby.

Kate - Thanks. I clearly need a pool boy now.

Linda - Thanks! I already washed it once with the wrong shampoo.

Aging Mommy - Next big question - how long will it last???

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