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.


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