How is Brazilian smoothing done?
Brazilian Straightening is a semi-permanent protein treatment that reduces frizz and smoothes the hair cuticle to make it shinier and silkier.
And, unlike straightening or Japanese straightening, Brazilian Straightening does not permanently alter the texture of the hair and requires no downtime.
The terms "Brazilian Smoothing" and "keratin treatment" are often used interchangeably, but there is one key difference:
Brazilian Blowouts are a specific brand of liquid keratin treatment that is often incorrectly used as an umbrella term for all keratin treatments (similar to the way the Kleenex brand is often used to refer to all tissues) .
As such, true Brazilian Smoothing can only be performed in the salon by a stylist specifically certified in Brazilian Smoothing.
However, with the proper precautions, you can recreate Brazilian Blowout-like effects with a homemade keratin treatment.
We asked stylists Nidia Duenas and Michelle Garwood to guide us through this process.
How do Brazilian Blowouts work?
Brazilian Smoothing consists of applying a liquid protein solution to the hair. This solution is meant to add a protective layer around your strands, coating the cuticles so they look fuller, smoother and shinier.
These treatments last for three months depending on your hair type, but there isn't a hair type that can't consider getting the job done. Even if your hair is thinner, fragile or already chemically treated in some way.
Your Brazilian Straightening can be modified in its power to adapt to your hair and provide a smoother result.
One of the benefits of Brazilian Straightening is that you don't have to avoid washing your hair for the next few days, and from there the treatment can last up to three months with proper care, depending on the brand.
Can you do a keratin treatment or a Brazilian blowout yourself?
Don't forget that Brazilian Smoothing is a liquid keratin treatment performed in the salon. You cannot therefore achieve a real Brazilian Smoothing without the help of a certified stylist.
However, it is possible to create a similar result with a keratin treatment that is easier to perform at home.
We always prefer to leave these matters to a professional, especially when it comes to treatments involving harsh chemicals like formaldehyde (as is the case with Brazilian Blowouts).
If you want to get a real Brazilian Straightening using the brand's product line, you should go to a professional certified in carrying out these treatments and have a thorough consultation on your wishes.
As for do-it-yourself keratin treatments, every stylist we spoke to strongly advised against it, pointing out that it's easy to accidentally purchase a formula intended only for professional use.
Therefore, incorrect application of this professional product or poor ventilation can lead to serious health complications.
If for some reason you absolutely must try this at-home treatment, a consultation with a professional stylist will always be necessary.
Look for a certified professional who can allow you to do it at home, help you find a safe, formaldehyde-free formula suitable for novice home use, and give you advice on how to customize your treatment to achieve the desired result.
Here is what you will need:
color brush and bowl
Protective gloves. Our skin absorbs the chemicals and they enter our bloodstream. Try as much as possible to keep the product off your skin.
Pliers for cutting hair into sections.
A cape or towel for extra protection
A good hair dryer.
A flat iron with wide titanium plates that can reach up to 450 degrees.
A small flat iron to detail the hairline
A protective cream to apply around the hairline. This can help prevent any irritation around your face.
And above all, a well-ventilated place
This last condition is of the utmost importance and, as Duenas points out, it is probably the greatest risk you expose yourself to when trying to do this treatment at home.
The product contains chemicals. Without good ventilation, it could cause eye irritation.
If you can, do this traiment on the outside for maximum air circulation. Keeping our warnings in mind.
Read on for a step-by-step salon-quality straightening treatment at home.
Choose your formula:
Genuine Brazilian Blowout solutions cannot be purchased at any local beauty store as they contain harsh chemicals and are of a specific brand that is only sold for professional use. These treatments may contain about 10% formaldehyde.
Instead, we recommend purchasing a formaldehyde-free formula specifically designed for home use.
The effects won't be as strong as a professional formula, but you'll be at much less risk of serious health complications if misused.
Your hair is not worth sacrificing your health.
Consider a more natural formula like the Amlaplex Hair Straightening Kit. Just be sure to read all instructions and warnings carefully.
Do a patch test:
Perform a patch test at least 48 hours before applying any chemical (including a formaldehyde-free protein treatment purchased online) to the scalp.
The patch test aims to detect any potential reaction to the treatment, while the strand test (which you may have already heard of for coloring your hair) is used to assess the results on the hair.
A patch test will let you know if you are allergic to any of the ingredients. Follow the manufacturers instructions on how to do the patch test and try to apply it to the inside of your wrist so you don't have it near your throat, in case there is a reaction.
If you notice any burning or irritation on your skin, contact your doctor immediately for medical advice.
Wash your hair (several times)
To start, you need to wash your hair. Not just once, but three times. Your blow-dry solution works best on porous hair.
Shampooing the hair three times allows the cuticle to open up so the product can be absorbed, otherwise it won't work.
Prepare your wicks and environment:
After washing your hair thoroughly, you'll follow three simple steps to get you and your hair ready to go:
Dry them gently with a towel.
Divide your hair into four sections: two in the front (from behind the ears forward) and two in the back.
Pay attention: Put on your gloves, cover your shoulders with a towel or cape, and sit in a well-ventilated area. It may be helpful to wear a face mask if you have one.
Apply the treatment from root to tip
When it comes time to apply your treatment, start with the back sections.
You will use the pointed end of your color brush like you would a tail comb to weave in small subsections of hair.
Start by taking thin slices diagonally from the top, and once you've painted them with the solution as you would with hair color, lay them gently on the other side (avoiding the front sections of your hair).
Your subsections are going to depend on the thickness of your hair, so the thicker the hair, the thinner your subsections will be.
You will first apply the product to the root and then work your way down to the tips.
Your roots are normally the curliest and thickest part of the hair, so it's important to apply at the roots first.
Next, take your comb and run it along the hair shaft. The remaining product should extend to the tips. The tips don't need as much product as the roots.
In addition, with these solutions, a little product is enough. Keep your application lightly saturated - you don't need to scoop up a ball of product on your brush.
Just get to a saturation point that makes the hair look a little wet again.
The longer the product stays on, the flatter your locks will look.
Dry your product with a hair dryer
Once your hair is saturated and the solution is evenly distributed over your hair, grab your hair dryer.
This is the part that can cause dizziness or lightheadedness as the heat releases these powerful chemicals into the air. Keep that in mind and be prepared to stop if necessary.
Application basically involves putting a layer of keratin back into your hair shaft.
the keratin used for these treatments usually comes from horns, hooves, wool, etc. of animals. By associating this kératine to heat and drying, the heat helps it to penetrate into the cortex of the hair.
This part of the process reconnects the broken bonds between hydrogen, salts and disulfides with natural keratin to create strong, resistant and multi-bonded strands in the hair.
This reattachment and reconstruction of each strand allows the cuticles to flatten and appear smoother and shinier.
Hair flat iron:
Now that the hair is dry and the bonds of each strand have been rebuilt, it's time to seal everything.
This of course requires a new heat session, because it is the heat that changes the state of the hair.
If you have thinner, more damaged, or otherwise treated hair before this treatment, heat your flat iron up to 400-425 degrees.
For thicker, healthier hair, go up to 450 degrees.
The best types of flat iron for this process, as Duenas suggested above in our hardware list, are:
1) a flat iron with large titanium plates.
2) a smaller, thinner flat iron for detailing the hairline and reaching hard to reach areas.
The wider plates help you cover more area, but when it comes to the roots, you really need this little iron to help you get as close to the hairline as possible.
Titanium plates reach high temperatures faster than ceramic plates and distribute heat evenly.
Although this treatment is excellent for all hair types, it should be noted:
If your hair is over-processed or broken and you're not careful with the temperature of the heat, the results can be disastrous.
When you see your hairdresser, make sure it's something you both discuss in depth.
As stated above, the temperature should be adjusted according to your hair texture.
Exact temperatures should come from your stylist and be specified based on your unique hair identity.
Be sure to trust your certified stylist and have a thorough consultation beforehand.
Do a final rinse:
After the flat iron, it's time for a final rinse. We know what you might be thinking: why rinse your hair now that it looks straight and smooth? It's simple, the solution is still on your locks.
One of the best ways to take care of your blow-dry, starting with that final rinse, is to use a sulfate-free shampoo.
Sulfates are foaming agents found in many shampoos, and they are quite abrasive to the hair.
Sulfates strip away natural oils and can agitate the cuticle. When our cuticles are damaged or choppy, the hair cannot retain the new keratin that blow-drying has put into the hair.
Therefore, sulfates may have the power to release these new bonds faster and prevent treatments from lasting as long.
A sulfate-free shampoo is much more beneficial for the longevity of your treatment and in general for all hair types.
Use a deep conditioner:
After thoroughly rinsing the hair, it's time for a deep treatment.
Rinse and apply your treatment mask and leave on for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing it off.
The importance of using a mask at this point in the process and throughout your stay with those newly straightened locks is to keep the hair strong and healthy while prolonging the results of this treatment.
Due to the chemicals and high temperatures your hair endures during Brazilian straightening, a sulfate-free, protein-based reconstructive treatment is recommended.
Hydration is necessary to maintain smooth and healthy locks. Your hydration level will always depend on your hair type.
The more curly or textured your hair, the more moisture it needs.
Although Brazilian straightening is designed to make your styling routine easier, it's still important to use smoothing products like oils and leave-in conditioners that will help keep your hair smooth and frizz-free.
Try to choose paraben- and sulfate-free products whenever possible.
Also look for treatments that only contain water-soluble silicones.
Silicones give a shiny finish, but they can hide underlying damage, so be sure to treat hair damage properly.
Blow dry one last time:
Final drying doesn't have to be fancy, now that processing is in full swing.