The Brazilian blow-dry, also known as a Brazilian blowout or a Brazilian Keratin treatment, is touted as the miracle in-salon treatment if you suffer from unruly, damaged hair prone to frizz. It is a smoothing treatment (not a straightening treatment like Japanese Hair Straightening, more on this below) that uses Keratin proteins and other chemicals to smooth and improve the condition of hair for up to 3 or 4 months. Before you book yourself in at your nearest salon, keep reading to know everything you need about the Brazilian blow-dry treatment.

What Is A Brazilian Blow-dry?

The Brazilian blow-out is a salon service that uses a chemical mix of formaldehyde and keratin proteins to recondition and protect the hair fibres from water and heat damage. The process takes between 90 and 150 minutes depending on the length of the hair. First, the hair is soaked with a keratin infused lotion, then it is blowdried and ironed straight in order to seal the protein within the hair.

After the treatment, you need to stay away from water for the following 4 days, and avoid anything that would cause kinks or bends in your hair. This means you’ll need to avoid washing your hair, and wear it down without tying it on a ponytail, wearing hairbands or glasses on your head or putting it behind your ear. If despite all of this your hair develops a bend or kink, just use your straightening irons right away to straighten it. After 4 days, you can do anything you want with your hair, including enjoying blow-dry times about 40 to 60% shorter.

There are different keratin mixes, with different amounts of formaldehyde, but there is not a formaldehyde free Brazilian blow-dry treatment that works, because it’s this chemical that straightens hair. Since it’s a time consuming and expensive process (salon prices often start at over $200 but there are deals to be found), it is worth doing your research to find a salon that specialised in this kind of treatment, as a badly applied Brazilian blowout can damage your hair instead of improving its condition. Popular brands included Brazilian Keratin Treatment, the Brazilian Blowout, Brazilian Hair Straightening and Nanokeratin.

Does It Really Straighten Hair?

A keratin blow-dry is not a straightening treatment, but a smoothing one. If you naturally have wavy hair, it will become straighter and smoother but for poker straight tresses you will still need to blow-dry or use straightening irons. If you have curly hair, you will still have curly hair after the treatment but it will be less frizzy and much easier to style.

The Brazilian blow-dry doesn’t change the chemical bonds that define the texture of your hair, so unlike a Japanese straightening treatment your hair will go back to its natural texture as the keratin treatment wears off. This also means you can curl your hair as much as you want, even a perm.

How Is It Different From A Japanese Hair Straightening Treatment?

Japanese Hair Straightening treatments are to straight hair what perms are for curls. A solution is applied to the hair to break the bonds that give hair its natural texture, then the hair is blow-dried and flat-ironed into a pocker straight style. A neutraliser is then applied to seal the style. This process takes a few hours and will last about 6 months, which is twice as long as most Brazilian straightening treatments.

However, if you get a Japanese Straightening treatment, your hair won’t hold a curl. It will be permanently straight and it will remain like that until new hair grows. So, if you want to have straight hair every morning when you wake up, no styling needed, Japanese hair straightening is for you. If you just want to reduce frizz, improve the condition of your hair and style it straight when you want to, then Brazilian blow-dry is your best choice. You’ll need to wait about 2 weeks before you can have Japanese straightening after a Brazilian blow-out.

Let’s Talk About Formaldehyde – Are Brazilian Blow-dries Safe?

There is no real Brazilian blow-dry treatment that doesn’t use formaldehyde, as it’s this chemical that smoothes the hair. However, the amounts of this (declareda known human carcinogen) organic compound vary. For example, in Europe the usage of formaldehyde must remain under 0.2%, whereas in the US concentrations of over 10% were used.

As a user you are generally safe, as the lotion will never touch your skin (The stylist will avoid applying it to your roots). However, the formaldehyde fumes are the real risk, as they are released when the hair is dried and flat-ironed. This is mainly a risk for the stylist, and a respectable salon will take measures to reduce the risk: – Your stylist and possibly yourself will be wearing masks during the treatment – The treatment will happen in a well ventilated area, near a window and often with a fan to ensure air current.

However, if the salon doesn’t have this sort of safety measures, or you are very concerned about the (legally safe) amounts of formaldehyde then you are better avoiding this treatment and looking at alternatives. Some so-called keratin blowdries have no formaldehyde, but they are little more than intensive conditioning treatments and won’t last as long or produce the same results.

What To Do Before And After A Keratin Blow-dry to Get Best Results

Right before a Brazilian Blow-Dry you should:

  • If you use relaxers on your hair, have it done two weeks before your blow-dry.
  • Book a cut if you are changing your style.
  • Dye your hair immediately before, the treatment will lock the colour and add shine, besides improving the condition of your hair.

After your treatment:

  • Book a cut to trim the ends and finish your style right afterwards.
  • Do not tie or wet your hair for 4 days. If your hair gets wet or a ridge develops overnight, blow-dry and straighten it out with flat-irons.
  • Avoid using any styling products in your hair for 4 days.
  • Avoid swimming for 4 days.
  • Wait two weeks before colouring or highlighting your hair (or do it right before).
  • After a month you can repeat the treatment again. You’ll need to re-do your whole head every 2 or 3 months, or as needed depending on your hair type and how quick it grows.
  • Wash your hair using specially formulated products without sulphates that you can buy at your salon. This will extend the life of your Brazilian blowout.

Is spending half a day at the salon and paying upwards of $200 worth it? Most people who have a Brazilian blow-dry rely on this treatment to make their hair shinny, smooth and manageable and reduce the time they spend styling it, and come back to the salon again and again. It’s great for damaged, frizzy and unruly hair that needs a dose of TLC, but can also reduce your blow-dry time in half even if you have virgin hair. The Brazilian blow-dry is incredibly popular for a good reason.