Brazilian Hair Straightening Guide


Authored by Maggie Hira in Hair Care 
Published on 09-21-2009

Brazil hair straightening is a hair-relaxing technique that works by using a protein-filled solution to break the curl bonds in the hair shaft. Once the bond is broken, a hot straightening iron is used to permanently straighten the hair. Thus, the procedure transforms curly or wavy hair into sleek, shiny straight hair. It is touted as being cheaper and more natural than other methods of permanent straightening like Japanese straightening.

Since its introduction to the world of hair-dressing, Brazilian hair straightening has met with some controversy. One of the main active ingredients in the solution is formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. The fumes from formaldehyde are potentially fatal. In fact, the FDA warns that the use of any product containing over .02% formaldehyde is dangerous.

Stylists who perform the straightening treatment are told to wear gas masks and latex gloves to prevent being injured by the folmaldehyde fumes. Moreover, there has been one documented case of a Brazilian woman dying from inhaling the toxic fumes. Despite the controversy, the treatment continues to remain popular in Brazil and in the United States.

Treatment involves applying the formaldehyde solution directly onto the hair where it must remain for about two hours. Then the solution is removed and hair is meticulously straightened with a hot styling tool like a metallic or ceramic straightening iron. The solution breaks the curly and wavy hair bonds and the straightening iron locks in the new straight style directly into the hair cuticle. Then a neutralizer is applied to acidify the hair and keep it from breaking off.

After the treatment is done, it is advised that clients do not wash their hair or use barrettes, clips, elastics and other hair accessories for four days. Putting hair up in a ponytail or washing it prematurely will undo the straightening effect, causing hair to revert back to its natural state before the treatment. When washing hair that has been straightened in this manner, it is advised that clients do not use shampoo that contains sodium chloride.

Unlike Japanese hair straightening, Brazilian hair straightening only lasts about 3-4 months before hair reverts to its natural state. Whereas with Japanese hair straightening, the results are permanent. Many people believe that Japanese hair straightening is better than Brazilian hair straightening because the chemical solution is safer and does not pose any serious health risks, and the results last longer. Advocates of Brazilian hair straightening maintain that the Brazilian style leaves hair looking softer and silkier than the Japanese style.

Following treatment, a person must take exceptionally good care of her hair to minimize breakage and split ends. The solution applied to the hair causes hair to lose much of its natural moisture. Thus, hair becomes brittle and thin, and as a result it can break off much more easily than hair that has not been treated chemically. Hair that has undergone the Brazilian straightening process must be conditioned and hydrated at least three times a week with a highly moisturizing hair conditioner. It is also advised that about once a month hair be treated with a moisturizing hot oil treatment or deep conditioning treatment. Keeping hair properly hydrated will help prevent breakage, and leave hair looking softer and shinier than ever.


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