What every woman needs to know about Brazilian Blowout

Brazilian-branded beauty treatments are often unique and anything-but-standard, IMO. Brazilian bikini waxes allow women to be totally hair-free in their most intimate areas. I am a regular client and have been for years. I could not be happier with the service, whether it's from NYC's famed J Sisters or European Wax Center franchises. There's also the "candle cutting" technique, where lit candles are used to treat split ends without losing length, as evidenced by model Alessandra Ambrosio. That not only sounds like an accident waiting to happen, but the smell of burnt hair is pretty noxious. So that one gets a veto from me because I don't want to tempt fate and end up with singed strands. Then there is the controversial Brazilian Blowout, which is a brand of hair relaxant and straightening treatment used in salons for super sleek and frizz-free follicles.

While many stylists use this product as part of the straightening services that they enjoy performing for the curly and unruly manes of their clients, it's not without its issues. Brazilian Blowout's chemical composition has been problematic. If you are considering Brazilian Blowout to tame those tendrils, here's everything you need to know.

It contains formaldehyde

Brazilian Blowout smooths strands, but it also contains formaldehyde and is said to release the toxic, dangerous gas into the air when heated. Therefore, you have to think about how the potential side effects of this ingredient before you hop in the stylist's chair. You may love the result, but the method to get there could be hazardous to your health. Side effects include irritation and damage to eyes, skin, and lungs. All of the hair experts who commented for this story suggested that this product is popular despite these health uncertainties, and it appears that the chemical makeup does not scare everyone away.

Cleveland-based stylist Jerry Sufka does not use the Brazilian Blowout product due to its contents. He said, "That product, in particular, has a high concentration of formaldehyde, which is why I only use the Keratherapy. It is made in the United States under FDA approval."

You truly have to consider what you are putting on your hair, what's seeping into your scalp, and what you are inhaling. If you are on the fence about any straightening treatment, ask about the ingredients. Formaldehyde may be listed as methylene glycol, formalin, methylene oxide, paraform, formic aldehyde, methanal, oxomethane, and oxymethylene.

Some straightening agents don't use formaldehyde — you just need to do your homework to find them and to make sure they are legit formaldehyde-free.

Moderation is key

If you decide to go through with the Brazilian Blowout treatment, do not overdo it or you can cause more damage than expected. Edward Tricomi, master stylist and co-founder of Warren-Tricomi Salons, likes to perform the service on patrons, but with a caveat.

"I'm a fan of the Brazilian Blowout in moderation," Tricomi said. "It's a great tool to cut down on frizz and weight of the hair. I like it because it keeps hair smooth and makes life easier while blow-drying."

While Brazilian Blowout does make manes more manageable, it can also fry follicles. Tricomi added, "I wouldn't get addicted to it as you don't want to get in the habit of over-processing your hair. One or two times per year should be sufficient for this type of treatment." Knowing that formaldehyde is in the product recipe, once or twice a year seems like a comfortable frequency.

It works for all hair types, not just curly cues

Dennis Ramirez of Brighton Salon in Beverly Hills rattled off plenty of pros for Brazilian Blowout, saying it's a highly customizable treatment for smooth strands, no matter your natural texture. If your locks are kinky, coarse, frizzy, or fine, you are a suitable candidate for Brazilian Blowout. Also, if you are looking for a temporary straight style and want your curls to come back eventually, they will! "After 12 weeks, natural patterns return," Ramirez said, noting that the treatment is not permanent.

It's versatile

Stylist Dennis Ramirez also noted that after being treated with Brazilian Blowout, you can leave the salon and immediately wash your hair, hit the gym, or toss your locks into a high pony and it will keep its shape. You don't have to worry about your curls coming back too soon due to the elements or your activities. Another attractive benefit is that the process takes just 90 minutes and you end up with frizz-free hair for nearly three months.

It's a double investment

Brazilian Blowout is also a dual investment in terms of time and money. You don't just receive the treatment and leave your hair alone for three months. Not. Even. Close. Stylist Dennis Ramirez stated, "Just because a Brazilian blowout can be completed quickly does not mean that it can be completed cheaply. The price tag for a well-done Brazilian Blowout can reach as high as $300, which may be too rich for the blood of a fiscally conscious woman. There are also a number of costs associated with the maintenance, adding to your total bill."

While you invest financially, there is also the added commitment of time. While Brazilian Blowout cuts down on daily style time, you still have to maintain your mane and visit your stylist for touch-ups for your hair to look as beautiful as the day it was done.

Clients love the end result

Jeff Stump of Artkiteks by Jeff Stump is pro-Brazilian Blowout because of how happy the end results makes the client, despite the potential pitfalls. He said, "Brazilian Blowout has changed our industry for the better by giving people a more ideal hair texture. Although Brazilian Blowout has received some negative press, my clients that I treat with the product love it and are obsessed. Imagine 30 to 40 years of having frizzy, unruly hair and then transforming your texture with this product — leaving it smooth, soft, and amazing. Brazilian Blowout allows people to have the haircuts that they have always wanted, but could never achieve with their natural texture. The product also makes hair color look cleaner and puts luster back in the hair."

There's a lot to think about before giving Brazilian Blowout the go ahead.