Hair – Brazilian Blowout, Kill or Cure?

by Marion G Shaw on October 2, 2010

Being the curious person that I am, I am watching with interest all of the reports on the various “Brazilian” hair straightening and smoothing treatments.

Many people say it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, others have severe reactions and would never repeat the treatment.

Here is some information I was given and have researched on the various treatments.

Brazilian Blowout was originally manufactured in Brazil by a company called Cadiveau and apparently did not contain Formaldehyde.  I have spoken to several salon owners who have done the treatments since it was brought into North America who said that the original product caused no throat, lung or eye reactions, however, it is now manufactured in Florida, since which time, according to the people who use it, there has been a formulation change and there is a distinct chemical odour, similar to formaldehyde.

The same company, Cadiveau, now produces another product called Brazilian Tribe.

Another type of smoothing product is the Keratin Complex, made in Brazil by Coppola and, according to a Brazilian Tribe educator, is her favourite.  Produces no odour and is more than a smoothing treatment, but also actually straightens the hair.  Having read reports on it by consumers who have actually had this process done, the effects last more than a year, with a definite regrowth once the hair grows out.

The Brazilian Blowout product actually contains a chemical called Glutaraldehyde.  This is used to disinfect medical and dental equipment and is the leading source of occupational asthma.  Anyone who suffers from lung problems or any form of asthma should definitely not have this service done.  Glutaraldehyde is also used as an embalming fluid.  It is relatively odourless within the product until such time as it is heated, which of course is part of the treatment, using a 450 degree flat iron.  This is when the fumes are released.

Salons performing the BB should have very specific venting immediately above the treatment area.  Both client and stylist should wear masks and not the paper type – this just traps the fumes and actually concentrates them.  You need an industrial mask.  An air exchange system, taking the air out of the salon and replacing it with fresh air should also be used.

The more frequently a client has the service performed, which will probably be around 12 weeks, the more build up of the chemical in the hair, which is released every time the hair is shampooed and flat ironed, exposing the client on an ongoing basis.  There are reports of deaths of several women in Brazil, who, with their thick, coarse, curly hair, have the treatment done very frequently.

One thing that does seem to make a difference is the amount of product used.  Now we all know that hairstylists overuse products.  We tell our clients to use a dime size and we tend to use a handful!!!  However, with the BB, the amount used is very important.  The product is measured into the cap of the bottle.  Should be used very sparingly, only 1 cap for short hair, 2 for medium length hair and a maximum of 3 for long hair.  Although the product should be taken to the roots, it should not be applied to the scalp.

I am constantly researching this subject.  I will have some guest bloggers who are experts give some more information on this growing salon service.  By the way, some of the European countries have banned the use of the product.

So, before you decide to go from frizzy to smooth and straight, make sure you find out which product is being used, is the stylist certified and find out what the ingredients are.

By the way,  the FDA says that solutions containing more than 0.2% formaldehyde are not safe.

Yet, apparently, if the concentration of the chemical in a product is less than 2% it does not have to be reported as an ingredient.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Shannon October 2, 2010 at 5:02 am

BB advertises that it is free of all “Hyde” products since January of this year.


Marion G Shaw October 2, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Hi Shannon, It is my understanding that anything under 2% can be advertised as being “hyde” free. I know you do a lot in your salon, are you experiencing problems with fumes?


Shannon October 3, 2010 at 3:48 pm

No nothing at all! If you use too much solution you get some smoke off the hair, but if used right it’s comparable to smoke off a heat protect spray or thermal spray. I’ve got an exaust fan in my blowout room that vents outside too. I’ve had a couple people who get a bit of watering eyes, but nothing worse then that when using a perm. I’m following this whole bb scandal with interest!


jenyy October 8, 2010 at 2:01 am

Hi Marion my friend who had been using the BB Blowout has had to close her salon because she is so sick and has burnt her lungs due to using this product and Health Canada has advised against using this product as it has up 12% hyde so people can check this out themselves on their website it can cause cancer through prolonged use, the last time I did one my last one and I have only done two I experience lung pain and coughing for a couple of days so I see it’s just a matter of time before this product is banned or changed I won’t be doing anymore Cheers Jenny


Marion G Shaw October 8, 2010 at 2:20 am

Hi Jenny, thanks for the comment.
I have just been watching Global News. Now the government is starting to look at it. Apparently on the 11 0′clock news tonight there is an segment on Brazilian Blowout. Hope you watch it. I certainly will be.
Cheers, Marion


julia October 24, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Hi , I had the Cadiveau treatment done which didnt seem as harsh. I had the BB done previously which burned my eyes. iIam trying to figure out if the Cadiveau is fomaldehyde free or if its the same as the BB. The bottles look the same. I’ve been trying to do the research, but its hard to find out the correct info-yours is the clearest so far. I may not be doing any of it again.
Thanks, Julia


Allison February 6, 2011 at 10:01 pm

BEWARE! I had the BB done in Sept and had terrible asthma….like I have never experienced…for two months. Many trips to the doctor and load so medications later, it finally went away about 2 months after treatment. I never linked the two, until I had my 2nd BB and then happened to hear about these issues. When suddenly this severe asthma came back (and again won’t go away with meeds), I linked the two and am now anxiously awaiting this Brazilian Blowout to get out of my hair and I will not ever do it again. I am also suspicious of the shampoo and conditioning products. I wonder if they do not list formaldehyde on the label because it si under the 2%, but is secretly keeping me sick. Again, I urge you to beware and strongly suggest you seek out other products.


jon December 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm

hey just wanted to say that i had experienced a horrible asthma problem and was admitted to emergency in the hospital the morning after the treatment i had done, and they gave me a needle for anaphylactic shock


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