Let’s Talk About Brazilian Blowouts

Alright, alright. Clients and friends are always asking me about Brazilian blowouts, whether they are safe, if they should get them, if they will die a gruesome death if they get one. Moderately informed clients tend to have very polarized views. The same is true for hairstylists. I am not a chemist (which is something I wish more people would fess up to when they get on the Internet….) but I do have an opinion. So here it is:

Brazilian Blowouts are a godsend for clients with truly unmanageable hair. They leave some wave and body in the hair, but they take away the frizz and cut drying time in half. If the client wants to smooth their hair it will be easier. It will be manageable, pliable and incredibly shiny and there is nothing else that improves the condition of the hair like a professional keratin treatment. For perfectionists with minor frizz issues, there are more natural (weaker) alternatives to recommend.

The process is long. We shampoo with a clarifying shampoo, apply the product, blow dry the hair, flat iron the hair over and over. If this process is done incorrectly some people experience problems such as breakage or dryness. This is not a problem with the blowout and your hair, it is a problem with the person doing the blowout.

Now, I don’t do Brazilian Blowouts. I am severely asthmatic, and frankly, blow drying and flat ironing hair spray or any other product for three hours would give me a headache and sore throat. A client who has weak lungs or bad allergies may also find them unpleasant, however, the client is hardly breathing in anything compared to the hair dresser.

That said, the FDA may under regulate in some cases, but the Internet is full of conspiracy theorists and crazies. If you have ever googled your cold symptoms and thought you had bacterial meningitis than you understand that the Internet is an insane place. People exaggerate on both ends of the spectrum. I believe the truth is in between. I think in some parts of the US there are salons where stylists do a ton of blowouts in poorly vented areas, and I imagine there will be horrible repercussions for the stylists health. Still, as a consumer, I think the risk is minimal even in a salon like that. I think everything should be a cost benefit analysis and you shouldn’t get one if your hair can be managed fairly easily with product on a day to day basis.

Really I wish people would stop freaking out about Brazilian Blowouts so that stylists could product themselves and their clients with masks without anyone jumping up and down and saying, “See, I knew it was dangerous!” Because it really isn’t bad unless you’re around a ton of them, but they do have short term problems, mainly just throat irritation. But nothing you wouldn’t experience from spraying hairspray for that long. Actually, hairspray would probably be worse. I wish I could wear a mask for that..

Honestly, if you are using nail polish other than Zoya, why worry about the formaldehyde in Brazilian Blowouts? Most nail polish has formaldehyde… But not necessarily a cause for concern as it disinfects the little brush. Sometimes I see people eating the most unhealthy, processed non-food food and say things about formaldehyde in Brazilian Blowouts. Really? What goes in your body is going to make more of a difference in the long run. Exercise and a proper diet will make more of a difference in long term health and cancer risk. I shouldn’t even have to say this. It should be obvious. The bottom line is “formaldehyde” is a really nasty word and it is easy to get a gut reaction to it. I’m not saying we should be cuddling up with a taxidermied dog, just that we are not experts. Talk to a chemist about it. But not one from the Internet because they will most definitely be “on a side.”

If you decide to get one, choose wisely! As I said before, if they aren’t done well they can be rough on the hair. When done well they will be incredible. Don’t bargain hunt on this hair service, as the bargains might be with less experienced stylists. And take great care with your hair after! Listen to your stylist about how to care for them and buy your shampoo at the salon. Don’t just buy any SLS free shampoo because a lot of them have compounds that are very similar and may be just as harsh.