Having been a stylist for almost 8 years now, I usually know what a client is going to ask me before she does. How? Because the lady sitting in the chair 10 minutes before her asked the same question. Lately, that question is,” What’s all this news about the Brazillian Blow out?!”
For those of you who aren’t really clear what this service is, it’s a smoothing treatment that drops out the frizz and most /all of your curl for 3-5 months depending on how well you care for your hair. Let’s clear up one thing right away. Brazillian Blowout is one brand of many keratin treatments out in the industry right now. Think iPod to mp3 player, make sense? I make note of this because Brazillian Blowout( which I will start referring to as BB) is a specific brand under fire, not keratin treatments in general. What makes it different from Japanese straightening is that instead of penetrating the hair shaft and basically turning it to mush to get hair flat and straight (ie limp and lifeless), the Keratin treatment sits on top of the hair shaft and fills in/seals what I refer to as the “pot holes of the hair” which are split ends, color/sun damage and such. After a few months, the product gradually wears off which means no long term commitment as is the case with the Japanese straightening which is a permanent change. Another thing the Keratin treatment has going for it is that you can also color your hair and with chemical straighteners of the past, that wasn’t always an option that kept your hair damage free. Cough. Or in some cases, even on your head. You haven’t seen horror until you’ve seen melted hair a la chemical damage. TRUST.
Formaldehyde. Usually a word you associate with an mortician… and now, the Brazillian Blowout. The stank hit the fan several months ago when stylists at an Oregon salon correlated the onset of nose bleeds and respiratory issues as the results of using the BB product in house. OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) tested samples of the BB product not only from that salon but other local salons complaining of the same issues. A public health alert was issued stating that the BB formulations ( including one that claims to be formaldehyde free) ranged from 4.85 to 10.6 % formaldehyde. Yeah, I KNOW. Apparently, only if the solution contains more than .1% does the manufacturer have an obligation to inform the stylist.
Here’s the thing, any keratin treatment you have done is going to have formalin ( a derivative of formaldehyde) in it- it’s what makes the product work. What’s good enough to preserve Great Aunt Ethel’s organs until Saturday’s funeral service is good enough to preserve that shiny straight hair of your dreams for months. Some of you maybe be kinda grossed out right about now but my point is this: any stylist worth his/her weight in shampoo will be honest and educated about this.
My personal feeling about all this keratin controversy is that while I definitely believe in educating yourself on the pros and cons of ANYTHING involving chemicals being absorbed/ inhaled into your body, the fact is this: the stylist who is performing the service is more at risk than the client. Ever notice when you get X-rayed at the dentist’s office, the tech leaves the room? Repeat exposure to the radiation wouldn’t be that great. Same thing when doing a keratin treatment. When I’m drying the product into the hair, I’m always blowing away from my client, not to mention, some of my coworkers offer their clients protective eye wear while I just opt to keep a mini fan on full blast while working. Again, I’d also like to remind everyone that BB is one of many brands of keratin treatments on the market and YES, (again) they all have formaldehyde, although in varying amounts. I happen to use a keratin product that has never once even made my eyes water and if you had any idea just how wimpy my asthmatic lungs, you’d probably be more impressed. Just know that after a weekend in Las Vegas and being held hostage in smoke filled casinos, I’m usually knocked out for a couple weeks. So when I say .03 % formaldehyde doesn’t make me bat an eyelash extension, it probably isn’t going to make it on your sensory radar either. And to be honest, my clients’ excitement level on not having to battle with bushy, crazy hair but consistently enjoy soft, glossy tresses makes it worth it. Ahem, as does the price tag. People seemed shocked at the price but hey, if I’m the one assuming all the long term effects of crazy chemicals, don’t you think I’m entitled to started saving for the expensive medicals bills now? I kid, I kid.
At the end of the day, everyone is going to have different feelings about this service. Yes, there is a minimal risk but educate yourself and see what you’re comfortable with and communicate any concerns you have with your stylist. Then it’s up to you to decide what’s worth the price of perfect hair.
This is Katie after the treatment, just blowdried with fingers, took me five minutes.
This is Katie after, flatironed.
* The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of MODE Bay Area.