You’ve heard of it, you’ve seen the dramatic before and after shots on Instagram, and you may have even looked into getting it done yourself. For some, the Brazilian Blowout has become notorious in the hair realm for its transformative (and dare we say, life-changing) qualities, especially if you spend a good hour fighting with the round brush after lathering up.
To help bust the myths circulating around the beauty world, InStyle asked hairstylist Jennifer Matos of New York City’s Rita Hazan Salon to give a crash-course on the treatment. “It works on just about every type and texture, even fine hair,” she tells us. “Especially in the summer when humidity affects everyone, it can be game-changing, and your hair will be much easier to manage.” Read on for your cheat sheet on the Brazilian Blowout.
The Brazilian Blowout is a liquid keratin formula that bonds to your hair to create a protective layer around each strand, effectively diminishing frizz, sealing the cuticle, and providing armor against any external damage. The smoothing treatment originated in Brazil, and uses ingredients indegenous to the country including camu camu, annatto seed, and açai berry. After getting the treatment, your hair will be left hydrated, less frizzy, and more resilient to heat styling—not to mention, with an insanely glossy mirror-like shine.
Although both end results are similar, the Brazilian Blowout has a mild formula that can be tailored to your hair type, and is a little less precious post-treatment. “After you get a keratin treatment, you don’t have as many options,” says Matos. “You can’t tie it back, you can’t style it, and you can’t wash it for the three or four days that follow. With the Brazilian Blowout, you get it done, your stylist rinses it out, and that’s it. You’re back to your normal life again.”
Not unless you want it to. Your stylist will seal in the treatment with a pass of a 450-degree flat iron, and the more your stylist flat irons, the straighter your hair will be. “If you like to wear your hair curly, but just want to tame your frizz, this will help make your hair more manageable. Just be sure to tell your stylist exactly what you want, and they can tailor the treatment to either preserve the texture of your hair, or make it smoother,” Matos explains. The overall goal is to make your strands less of a burden to work with, but keep in mind that if you have naturally curly hair, it won’t air dry to a pin-straight texture. “You’ll still have voluminous body with waves if you air dry it, but if it normally takes you 30 minutes with a blow dryer, this can help you cut down the time to just 15 minutes,” she adds.
Matos confirms that the treatment is safe on any hair type, and actually helps to improve shine as well as moisture levels. “Everyone is concerned because of the formaldehyde in the formula, but there isn’t any more in this than would be in your nail polish,” she says. “There is a very, very small amount, but with any chemical processing, there is always a chain reaction of bonding the treatment to your hair.” The only situation in which breakage does occur is when a stylist goes too hard with the flat iron, so be sure to tell your pro if your hair can’t take a lot of heat.
“Overall, the process takes an hour to an hour and a half,” Matos says. “The longest I’ve ever spent doing a Brazilian Blowout was around two hours, so it all depends on how much hair you have and how thick it is.” Your stylist will begin by shampooing your hair three or four times to remove all the product and create a base for the treatment to adhere. Working section by section, the Brazilian Blowout formula will be applied from root to tip, then blow-dried smooth. A flat iron heated to 450 degrees will seal it in, then it’s back to the shampoo bowl to rinse out the treatment, followed by a deep conditioning mask. Finally, your hair will once again be blow-dried smooth.
Provided that you remove the shampoos that contain sulfates and chlorine from your shower, your treatment should last anywhere from three to four months—possibly longer if you don’t need to wash your hair as regularly as some. Once it wears off, your hair will return to its natural curl pattern. “You’ll start to see it around the hairline first,” Matos says. “That’s your indicator of when it’s time to get it redone.” Even if you don’t get it touched up right away, there’s no obvious line of demarcation between the previously treated hair and new growth, unlike with other relaxing or straightening methods.
Brazilian Blowout is completely safe on color-treated strands, says Matos, and since it completely seals off the hair shaft, there’s a chance your hue will stay vibrant for longer. “We’ve had clients who have gotten color done and followed it up with a Brazilian Blowout in the same day, and that would be the perfect time to do it since the cuticle is already open from the color,” Matos tells us. “If you’re doing this, just be sure to let your colorist know since doing one treatment after the other can make the color a bit brighter.”
Unlike the post-keratin routine, there aren’t any restrictions as to what you can and can’t do in terms of activity, so you won’t have to skip out on your hot yoga class. Additionally, since the treatment is rinsed out in the salon, you can wait as long or as little as you’d like to wash it, but again, just be sure to use a sulfate- and chlorine-free formula to preserve its lifespan.