Health knowledge made personal
Join this community!
› Share page:
Search posts:

Is Brazilian Keratin Straightening Safe?

Posted Dec 20 2009 10:01pm 3 Comments
Post image for Is Brazilian Keratin Straightening Safe?

HLBrown asks…My hairdresser swears by a process called the “Brazilian Blowout,” saying it can actually change and rebuild the hair’s structure. A shampoo is first applied which removes all build-up. Then the solution, using the solution by Brazilian Blowout is applied all over the hair with a comb. The hair is then flat-ironed to “bake in” the treatment. Once entirely flat-ironed, the solution is washed out with Brazilian Blowout shampoo and a deep conditioning cream conditioned is left in for 5 minutes.  Could this $300 + in chair treatment make the hair healthier?

The Left Brain responds:

The Blowout sounds like another name for the so-called Brazilian Keratin Straightening process which uses a high concentration of formaldehyde (or similar compounds) in combination with flat ironing to restructure hair.

Does it work?

Does it make your hair healthier? Well, it certainly makes it straighter. (Did you read our post on 7 Ways To Get Straighter Hair?) And as I pointed out in our Forum, the reason hair looks shinier after one of these treatments is because the hair is straighter.  Straighter hair has less curves, reflects light better, and thus looks shinier.  Straightened hair also feels softer and smoother because the cuticles are flattened down.  A rough feel is a result of uplifted cuticles.

The treatment doesn’t actually re-build hair in the way that is implied (or directly claimed).  The protein structure of a hair fiber is much more complicated than a simple straightening iron + hair treatment could ever reconstruct.  It would be like trying to fix a hole in a blouse by putting it in a waffle iron with yarn and glue.  You might cover the hole but you certainly haven’t “rebuilt” the purse.

Is it safe?

The problem with this process is safety. While low levels of formaldehyde don’t pose any problems, exposure to high levels has been linked to health problems, including cancer.  Unfortunately, this is exactly the scenario that the Brazilian kits promote – the heat of the flat iron vaporizes the formaldehyde and exposes you to unacceptably high levels of the gas.

In the UK, the Cosmetics, Toiletries and Perfume Association recently reported that some products contain up to 10% formaldehyde (the limit under the UK Cosmetic Products Safety Regulations is only 0.2%). They’ve posted a warning on their website to inform the public that there are legal, safe limits of formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde and glyoxal that are allowed in cosmetic products and that some ‘Brazilian’ hair treatments may use dangerous levels of these chemicals.

What do YOU think? Would you use a risky product to get straighter hair? Leave a comment and share your thoughts with the rest of the Beauty Brains community.

Comments (3)
Sort by: Newest first | Oldest first

I have just read your article on Brazilian Keratin and would like to add a little to it. I am a hairdresser based in Manchester UK and have undertaken extensive research into this new hair phenomenon. My research shows me that the way the Brazilian works has nothing to do with the Keratin or other conditioning ingredients. It is quite simply the aldehyde (form' or others they all work the same way) crosslinking the protein in the hair. This has the effect of reconfiguring the internal structure of the hair and holds it straight for 3-4 months. Salt (sodium chloride) in shampoo is there as a thickener and has no other function. However salt is also a dessicant and will dry out the moisture in the hair thus releasing the crosslink created by the aldehyde and shortening the life of the process. The problem with the Brazilian Keratin treatment is one of trust. I have found that at least 10 of the brands available use the same bottle which is manufactured in Brazil. The websites are all registered with the same ISP in an attempt to hide the identity of the owners. I believe that all 10 of these brands are owned by the same company probably attempting to flood the market and stop other companies from entering the market. Bearing this in mind, how can we trust what we read in the ingredients list is what is actually in the bottle? I am currently working with a Formulating Chemist to develop a product that can give similar results without the need for Formaldehyde or any other illegal ingredient. The results we have so far have given us a product that after a first application in the salon, the hair stays smooth for about 4 shampoos then although much smoother the curl returns. However, when the product is re-applied as a leave-in conditioner the har straightens again. This means that the customer can apply the product at home and keep the haior straighter and smoother as much or as little as they like. As the preservative and micro-biological tests take 3 months to complete, it will be ready around the start of the summer. I'll keep you posted on developments and other possible uses.

Peter Regan

My best friend recommended me to the woman who did her treatment. First of all ventilation is the key i have been getting BKT for over 4 years and I am not dead. There is more formaldehyde ina tube of mascara than in BKT. Also I have never had any problems with BKT fumes or sickness infact the product I get done to my hair smells like bananas and I never smell any harsh gasses of chemicals. My best friend recommended me to the woman who did her treatment. She did an awesome job and the price was nowhere near as expensive. She services the Philadelphia, Delaware and Parts of New jersey area. She even agreed to come to my home and do my hair since I have children. I picked her up and she came to my house and did my BKT. I have never been so happy in my life. I love my hair now. My only complaint is I can’t keep my hands out of my hair. I don't want to give out her phone number but her email address is If you want your hair done and don’t want to break the bank. This is the person to call.


Sarah Corbet


Sarah C

There is her new site

Post a comment
Write a comment:

Related Searches