Q&A: Brazilian Blowouts

Question

Lorraine asks: I have recently read about the Brazilian blow out treatment (keratin) is this safe to use on the hair as the write up on it suggests that it is not damaging and it seems a lot of "Naturals" are using this form of straightening?

Wanitta Asks: Can you do a blog on the new fad-Brazilian Blowout pros and cons please?

Answer

Well, to be totally honest i’d never really heard about a Brazilian Blowout until i was asked about it. But i’ve done my research on the subject and… well, there’s plenty of information out there about it. Here’s what i’ve found.

The original Brazilian Blowout Website suggests that this treatment “actually improves the condition of the hair by creating a protective protein layer around the hair shaft to eliminate frizz and smooth the cuticle” and that “The end result is smooth, healthy, conditioned hair with radiant shine.

The website also states that their formulation is FORMALDEHYDE Free.

The results are meant to last for up to 6 months if using the recommended after care products.

I looked around on YouTube to see if i could find a tutorial on how it’s actually applied and i found one here. It requires a lot of heat. Applying the product, washing, blowdrying, pressing, rinsing, applying more product, blowdrying and pressing.

However, digging a little more about this treatment brought up a few skeletons, as it were about the formulation.

Brazilian Blowout under the spotlight

Check out this news report from an American news channel and this one, questioning the amount of formaldehyde within this treatment, suggesting it contains up to 10% of this chemical substance. Salon practitioners and clients complained of nose bleeds, eye irritation and difficulty breathing!

I found this really helpful article on Fashionista discussing the potential dangers of the Brazilian Blowout treatment asking an organic chemist with more than 20 years pharmaceutical experience to look more into the matter. He states

The long and short of it is that methylene glycol equals formaldehyde, period, get over it, done, move on. Also, there are chemicals that can be put into solution that when heated, turn into formaldehyde quickly. So a chemical that is not technically formaldehyde in solution, can turn into formaldehyde.

A WebMD article noted that formaldehyde is needed to bond with the keratin in these treatments, and that any product with less than 2% formaldehyde probably wouldn’t work. So you can draw the obvious conclusions.”

So… The Brazilian Blowout is designed to bond keratin to the hair shaft, thus making it stronger, smoother and straighter. Keratin can not bond to the hair shaft, only fill in the gaps of damaged cuticles. So something is needed to make it ‘stick’. And that, my friends, seems to be where the formaldehyde comes into play. So this protein layer is melted onto the hair and is what keeps it straight, until it is gradually stripped off.

It’s not looking very good for the Brazilian Blowout i’m afraid.

So, What is Formaldehyde?

The Cancer.gov Website has a breakdown of this chemical substance and states that “ Formaldehyde is a colourless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that is used in building materials and to produce many household products. It is used in pressed-wood products, such as particleboard, plywood, and fiberboard; glues and adhesives; permanent-press fabrics; paper product coatings; and certain insulation materials. In addition, formaldehyde is commonly used as an industrial fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant, and as a preservative in mortuaries and medical laboratories. Formaldehyde also occurs naturally in the environment. It is produced in small amounts by most living organisms as part of normal metabolic processes”.

What’s the risks associated with this chemical?

The website also states “When formaldehyde is present in the air at levels exceeding 0.1 ppm, some individuals may experience adverse effects such as watery eyes; burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat; coughing; wheezing; nausea; and skin irritation. Some people are very sensitive to formaldehyde, whereas others have no reaction to the same level of exposure”.

Can Formaldehyde cause cancer?

Cancer.gov suggests “Although the short-term health effects of formaldehyde exposure are well known, less is known about its potential long-term health effects. In 1980, laboratory studies showed that exposure to formaldehyde could cause nasal cancer in rats. This finding raised the question of whether formaldehyde exposure could also cause cancer in humans. In 1987, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen under conditions of unusually high or prolonged exposure (1). Since that time, some studies of humans have suggested that formaldehyde exposure is associated with certain types of cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies formaldehyde as a human carcinogen”.

So regular exposure to this chemical can contribute to cancer!

Watch this Video about one YouTubers thoughts on the matter after watching it being done in a salon, and this article on The Natural Haven giving a scientific breakdown of how it works and whether or not it’s worth doing.

My Thoughts

After considering all the research i’ve come to the conclusion that i will NEVER get this treatment done. I don’t see any pros in doing it at all. Why?

  1. You all know that i try and do what is right by my body and i take my health seriously. I would not want to expose myself to such dangerous substances all in the name of beauty!
  2. It takes away my power of control. I love my natural hair, i’m not trying to change it or run away from it in any way. If i ever decide to to straighten my hair, i want to be able to decide how long i keep it for. I would only want it for a few days, NOT MONTHS!
  3. My ethos is love who you are. Learn to appreciate the way God made you. I think it’s a bit of a cop out, personally. What’s the point of being natural if your going to straighten your hair for up to 6 months at a time? It makes no sense to me! Straighter is not always better.

It’s all about educating yourself, i believe. I’m not going to say don’t do it. We all have to be accountable for our own decisions. Do your own research and ask yourself why you would want such a treatment done. You can get stronger hair other ways. You can get straighter hair other ways that is not so damaging to your health and that does not last for so long.

 

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4 thoughts on “Q&A: Brazilian Blowouts

  1. Thanks for the information. This treatment seemed all the rage on some websites and the results looked promising. I try to use natural products wherever possible because synthetic ingredients are detrimental to health and a happy hair growth journey for myself and others. I have not heard anything like your info before and this helps me to remain focused on why I use natural products. Thank you.

    • Thanks for your kind and encouraging words. I love to share the knowledge i’ve learnt and to know it’s helping others gives me a great sense of satisfaction.

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