Say ‘Brazilian Blowout’ and people think you’re being rude. Or, if they keep their finger on the hairstyling pulse, they quickly recount a testimony about how it changed their life. For the Brazilian Blowout is an extreme hair-straightening remedy, or, as its highfalutin website suggests: ‘the most effective professional smoothing treatment in the world’.
Surfacing in 2005 in Brazil (as the name suggests), it was created to combat high-humidity-induced frizzy hair, and soon spread across Europe and North America via famous endorsements from Hollywood celebrities such as Nicole Richie, Halle Berry and Lindsay Lohan. Why is it so much more popular than other straightening treatments? Because this one guarantees straight, shiny locks – even without blow-drying. Even better, it manages this by actually making your hair healthier, rather than more damaged, which can happen with your average straightening tongs.
‘Through the use of a Brazilian “super nutrient complex”, the Brazilian Blowout improves the condition of the hair by creating a protective protein layer around the hair shaft to eliminate frizz and smooth the cuticle,’ states Brazilianblowout.com. And since September, excitingly, the international super-treatment has been available in Dubai, at Ideal Image Saloon in Al Bustan Rotana.
Unfortunately, it’s arrived just as the treatment has begun to receive some dodgy press in the States regarding the levels of formaldehyde in the formula, which is classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency as a probable carcinogen. The ingredient is alleged to have caused stylists to experience sore eyes and coughs; this has prompted some US salons to stop offering the service, while the Canadian authorities have released a warning about the possible health hazards. Brazilian Blowout, however, has stated that no formaldehyde is used, as has the Saloon in Al Bustan Rotana.
So what exactly is involved? There is a set schedule to a Brazilian Blowout, which stylists can learn in a two-hour workshop. First, I have my hair washed with a specially formulated shampoo, which, according to my Lebanese hairstylist Zaib Chokr, ‘opens up the cuticles’. How do I know this? Because he explains that this is why it hurts so much as he combs the treatment through each section from root to tip, lightly dusting my hair with the solution. At this point the magical potion apparently surrounds each hair shaft with protective protein layers to smooth and flatten the cuticle.
Next up, he blow-dries my hair as straight as possible with a huge round brush, and then straightens it into sections again with a flat iron. We’re surrounded by humidifiers to disperse the strong chemical smell, and I am given a mask to wear to protect my nose when the fumes cause some tingling in my nostrils (though there’s no pain). Again, the tugging and straightening hurts, but needs must for a beautiful bouffant.
Finally, my hair is dry and straight, and I am about to get up and go when Zaib tells me he needs to rinse my hair and apply a masque and smoothing serum to further seal the cuticle, before completing a final blow-dry. This time I really am ready to go. Armed with the special Brazilian Blowout shampoo, conditioner and hair mask, I trot home to see if my previously moderately frizzy, naturally curly hair really will remain poker straight – even without a blow-dry. Pah! I don’t believe it.
The next morning I awake and spot a couple of kinks – aha! – but they disappear as soon as I comb my hair. The following day I wash and blow-dry it and am taken aback when I don’t have to straighten it to tame the fuzz: an all-time first. By the weekend I’m brave enough to test what happens when I allow my tresses to dry naturally: again, not a curl or frizzy lock in sight. If anything, my hair is too flat, the exact opposite of what normally happens when I allow my wild mane free range.
So far, so straight – the only drawback being that my hair feels lanker, and I need to wash it every two instead of three days. But if I don’t have to worry about the time-consuming rigmarole that used to accompany each shampoo, that isn’t a problem. And, according to Zaib, that won’t be a problem for five months. Now that’s certainly a life-changer.
From Dhs1,500 for short hair. Ideal Image Saloon, Al Bustan Rotana, Garhoud (04 282 8774)