How the Brazilian works
Keratin is applied onto the hair to temporarily restructure the hair shaft. Unlike a perm or chemical straightener which breaks down the bonds of the hair and then with a neutraliser reforms these bonds into a new shape, the keratin is bonded to the hair with a bonding agent (e.g. formaldehyde) and by applying heat (by ironing) to seal it into the hair.
Some products work on the basis of leaving the treatment in the hair for up to 72 hours after it has been ironed in while others you can wash out almost immediately. This depends on the product itself and the process that the manufacturer recommends. Although clients find it inconvenient to leave the product in for 3 days, I do think that leaving it in the hair over a length of time aids to bond the keratin to the hair.
The treatment should last for about 5 months and I don’t recommend that my clients do the process more than 2 to 3 times a year.
Who needs a Brazilian Blow Wave?
The treatment is best for hair that is wiry or frizzy or to help control unruly curls or to create a flatter, straighter effect. Essentially what the Brazilian does is give the hair an easy to manage and easily blow waved look, it cuts down blow waving time and it thus a win to all those battling with creating a straighter more controlled blow waved hairstyle.
I do not recommend it as a conditioning treatment as such – the shine that clients experience after the treatment is generally because the cuticles are being made smooth with the keratin and ironing process.
Further more I don’t recommend it for clients that already have fine straight hair – all the treatment will do is make the hair flatter and more limp. There are an abundance of other types of keratin treatments out there designed to feed fine or processed hair at far less a cost and with far better results.
Is the Brazilian a health risk?
There is a huge controversy about the Brazilian containing formaldehyde and being potentially carcinogenic. Formaldehyde is a bonding agent and thus found in large number of products such as in nail varnishes and glues and to the other extreme, used to preserve dead bodies.
When the treatment first came onto the market it contained very high levels of formaldehyde and although some brand names still contain high levels of formaldehyde, most have been adapted to work as effectively with less formaldehyde. It is important to note that even though a product may say formaldehyde free it is not necessarily so – all that this may means that the level of formaldehyde is below a certain level. My understanding of how the Brazilian treatment works is that it would be less effective without formaldehyde or a derivative of formaldehyde to bond the keratin to the hair.
So – is it dangerous? – if you are allergic to formaldehyde, most definitely so. If you have asthma or any other respiratory disease I would be cautious, as you may be sensitive to the gas released from the process and if you are pregnant or breast freeing I would also be cautious too. It is always better to be safe than sorry, so be sure that your hairdresser is well informed on the product that they are working with, and be sure that the salon has ample ventilation. The Brazilian Blow Wave most likely presents more of a danger to the hairdresser doing the treatment as they directly inhale the fumes.
There are many manufacturers and brand names associated with the Brazilian and because of the success of the product these are continually being updated and improved. Many manufacturers are also now adding oils, vitamins and proteins to give the hair treatment conditioning and restoring properties.
Used on the right kind of hair and used correctly, the Brazilian Blow Wave is a process that works wonders and is a treatment that has made many of my clients hair far easier to manage and their hair more enjoyable.