My Brazilian Blowout: From Fab to Drab

Yes, Brazilian blowouts are toxic. It’s official. But I’d like to talk about something else for a moment: They can also completely mess up your hair. Behold the unflattering exhibits above.

I was pretty shocked to revisit these pictures, and see just how awful my hair looked. Part of me was starting to think that I’d maybe overreacted at the time. I hadn’t.

If you’re wondering why I cataloged my hair like a crazy person, it’s because Siobhan and I were sending each other pictures like these over instant message to check in on whether our $400 blowouts were worth it. We sure thought so at first.

In picture 1, my hair felt silky smooth. I could even run my fingers through it, something that had never happened before (and hasn’t since). But beyond that first month of bliss? The situation started to seriously degrade. As my real hair tried to break through the toxic veneer, I was left with a dry, flat mess.

I really thought I’d ruined my hair for good. I went to the salon to complain, only to be scolded by a mean (and actually Brazilian) hairdresser. Just that morning we had Google-panicked about the treatment, but he yelled at me when I questioned its safety. I cried the entire drive home. Let me tell you, it was a rough few weeks.

Of course, my story has a happy ending. Eventually my hair came back to as the treatment washed out over time, and now it’s really healthy. That awful experience also happened to give us an idea for a book. You may have heard of it?

But my heart seriously goes out to the women who have shared their stories with us, some of whom are currently panicking about their hair just like we did. The other day I met a natural hairdresser who told me that she’s had to “treat” women whose hair began falling out from repeated Brazilians. I really find it heartbreaking!

I’ll be honest, I’m a little embarrassed to share these pictures—but I’m just so sick of hearing the rebuttals about why this toxic treatment is worth it.

Are you still convinced?

37 Responses to “My Brazilian Blowout: From Fab to Drab”
  1. Andreína (andre) says:

    Your hair looks a lot better now! Props to you for embracing it!

    I really DO HOPE people stop doing crazy things to get things they were not born with. How would the world be if we embraced all of our virtues and flaws?

  2. Lauren says:

    Thank you so much for speaking out about the Brazilian Blowout treatments. I had it done almost a week ago and I have been regretting it ever since. I’m not seeing any major breakage or hair loss, but it doesn’t look as healthy or shiny as it did before the treatment. Not to mention, when my hair is wet (after shampoo & conditioning) it feels like there is a film weighing it down. I’ve also lost a lot of volume due to the smoothing effects and it gets so static-y sometimes. I’ve been trying to research what I might be able to do to reverse the treatment, but haven’t come across much yet. For now I’m at least going to go back to using my Kerastase products and start taking vitamins to hopefully help the condition of my hair as the treatment wears off. Can you tell me how much time passed before it felt like your hair was back to normal? Any suggestions? Again I appreciate the effort you’re putting into this and any advice you can give. Thanks!

  3. connie curtis says:

    Your book is going to open people’s eyes & they can make informed choices. We have to stand up for everything in making sustainable clean choices in every product, food, etc that we buy. What we buy is going to change it.. That is what companies listen too and if we stop buying their products.

  4. LC says:

    Thanks for sharing the “real” results of the Brazilian Blowout. I thought about having it done a few months ago, but decided against it. The cons outweighed the pros within a few minutes of research regarding the treatment. And all the formaldehyde? No thanks. I’m surprised it’s taken this long to expose the truth regarding it. I think I read more about side effects and hair loss, than I did people who got the results the BB promises.

    If anyone is still thinking of trying this treatment out, you should DEFINITELY check out this blog I found:

    I’m not planning on having this treatment done [my hair is way to thin. I feel like I would lose it all] but I still know lots of people interested, despite the dangers. Read that blog first; stylist should too! Pretty interesting stuff. They have product solutions and stuff, but a specific read about formaldehyde was all I needed to read to know I would never come close to having the BB done.

  5. Alexandra says:

    Lauren, I’m trying to remember how it took to get back to my normal hair… Maybe four months? I was not a frequent washer though, so maybe it will come out faster for you. But I don’t want you to dry your hair out that way either! :)

  6. Lauren says:

    I try to keep that in mind. I wasn’t a frequent washer before – I could actually go several days without washing. I wish I would have done more research ahead of time. I was just so excited about the dream of being able to cut down my 45 minute drying time. Well the drying time is shorter now, but I do not like the texture or the way that I feel like it just hangs there looking sad. Oh well…at least I know now and I will save my $ next time! Thanks again!!

  7. i’m so glad i decided last minute not to do this but i did try a more “natural” / cleaner potato starch version. it didnt work though and im thankful. i love my cuuuurls:) and when im in the mood i get a blowout and then i feel like wonder woman for a couple of weeks (yup my blowouts last forever)! i really do. i love getting blowouts. my advice to all these women out there – your readers… 1) dont be desperate. desperation makes you do INSANE things and 2) for the buckaroos you spend on braz blowouts, go get a FABULOUS couture cut by an amazing top-notch stylist. Nothing beats a truly professional haircut. NOTHING:)

  8. Alexandra says:

    Ha. I love this advice. Also, I love getting blowouts as well (mine last forever too now that my hair’s healthy and I don’t leave weird products in it!).

  9. Love It says:

    Hi all. I feel that I should give another experience with the Brazillian Blowout. I had it about two months ago, and I still l.o.v.e. my hair. I wash it once a week (used to do it every day) and use large hot rollers. It comes out beautiful and it lasts for a full week. It actually would last longer, but I feel a week is enough to go without washing it.

    My hair is shoulder-length. I actually wake up every day with good hair. I don’t even have to comb it, just run my fingers through it. But I do run a comb through it. I went from having over-processed, frizzy hair to having gorgeous, shiny, smooth hair.

    It’s made my life better, not only in the sense that it saves me loads of time in the morning, but, more importantly, I finally have gorgeous hair!

    I can feel for those of you who have had a bad experience. Which, frankly, makes me more than a little nervous, as I plan on having it again once it wears off. From my understanding, they reformulated the BBO and it now contains very little formaldehyde. Do you guys know anything about that?

  10. Love It says:

    Alexandra, I just looked at your profile, Your hair is gorgeous!! The way my hair looked prior to the BBO is just about the way your hair looks in the third photo above. So I really needed to do something.

  11. Alisha says:

    Wow! I am extemely surprised to see so many negative comments about the Brazilian Blowout. I’ve just had my second BB done and I love, love it.! Did I say I LOVE it? My first BB was over 13 weeks ago. My hair still looked good and I could have probably gone another month before my 2nd one. My hair does not lose it’s volume or become stick straight (unless I style it to look that way) What it does for me, is give me freedom. No more money wasted on anti- frizz products, no more silicone creams, sprays or hot irons sucking the life out of my hair. Best of all, no more worries about humid weather! The BB leaves my hair silky smooth, with loads of movement. My blow drying time is down to 5 minutes, and now I can skip the hot iron altogether. I can dance in the rain without fear of frizzy ends! :) I am wondering if these ladies had a bad experience because their stylist’s didn’t know what they were doing? Also: Osha has deemed the BB to be safe. (I have many allergies and I did not get one hive from this) Go to their website for the Osha update. I sure hope to see some more positive comments about the BB in here and I sure hope these ladies get their money back from their stylists!

  12. Allan says:

    It sounds like your BB was not applied correctly or you had previously chemically treated hair and you were not consulted properly. Clearly, the BB will not work in all cases just like all hair processes. I highly suggest you look at all the variables before blaming the BB.

  13. xaiver says:

    The brazillian blowout left my hair thin, lifeless with no curl or body even after 8 months! I wish I never did it!

  14. Kelly says:

    Just like the last comments in your post, I also did a BB (twice) and my hair is still beautiful. I’m sure you only had a bad experience, but, honey, try to get over it, unfortunately bad things happen to good people, and for that I do feel sorry for you, you seams like a good girl. However, this is not ground for generalizations, I mean, if the BB didn’t have more people reacting in a positive way it wouldn’t be as famous as it is today.

    Your blog is very influential … I think you should be more careful with what you post in here. Making a negative post, after having had only one experience with something, is not really a good atitute.

    Sorry about your hair … is visible how sensitive you are about it.

    Hugs, K.
    PS: Seriously, you’ve found a “mean” Brazilian?! I never met a Brazilian who is not polite or that is “mean”, during my 26 years working in the immigration field. Hmm …

  15. Allison says:

    I will also never get the BB every again. I have had it twice now for the first BB it looked great for a few weeks – silky, less drying time and never had to use a flat iron. After a few weeks started looking dry and spit ends like crazy. My stylist thought we should try a different brand for the second time he says more “green” and less chemicals, My hair looks worse than ever!! So damaged at the ends and constantly looks and feel tangled. I can’t get it to look good anymore. I am trying everything to get this out of my hair and back to normal. Any ideas?

  16. Eli says:

    A “mean Brazilian” to a White woman in America is one who won’t take their shit, nasty attitude, and general snottiness. I’ve seen it at my salon in D.C. For some reason, White women have been lead to believe that since MOST men of all races will kiss their ass and allow piss poor behavior, that the rest of us will just go along with the ruse. NOPE. That would be incorrect. I blame your behavior on the men. They encourage your awful behavior and they know it. Not to be awful, but MOST men of all races seem to think you bitches are the sweetest, nicest, most polite things to inhabit the Earth. Too bad these penises never get to see what you are really like when they aren’t around. I think I’m going to have the ladies @ the salon set up some hidden cameras and see what we find. I feel a YouTube posting coming on. But no worries ladies, the pussy whipped males will come to your defense sure enough, especially the non-White males. They are absolutely the most blind to your antics. I digress…

    With that said and it needed to be said BTW, the BB is science based like every other chemical Tx for hair. Get a bad application, your hair could be ruined. (Well not really. Hair is dead and will just grow back, so it isn’t a tragedy for goodness sake.)

    But to say all BB are awful is like saying most White Americans are racist. Hmmm, that is probably true, so I guess it was a bad analogy, but the point is to put your experience into perspective like a RATIONAL human being, not an overly emotional, irrational, anti-science woman. Don’t be a cliche and people won’t treat you like one.


  17. Carol says:

    I am begin to wonder if my hair will ever be the same. I had a Brazilian Blowout 5 month ago and it is horrible. My hair has fallen out and it is totally flat to my head. Oh how I wish I had my curls back. I can spend hours on my hair and it still looks terrible. i am using shampoos with sulpher to try to get this stuff off my hair. Does anybody have any ideas how to get this stuff off/our of your hair?

  18. fax2email says:

    Lauren, I’m trying to remember how it took to get back to my normal hair… Maybe four months? I was not a frequent washer though, so maybe it will come out faster for you. But I don’t want you to dry your hair out that way either!

  19. Alison says:

    I wish i’d read this before being talked into getting this treatment done to my hair. It has totally ruined it. I’ve had to get my hair all cut and layered as it was left badly frazzled! I now get weekly conditioning treatments done…but the damage has already been done. An expensive lesson learnt. My advice….Please don’t do it. I’ve lost all confidence after having this so called conditioning treatment done…

  20. Renee says:

    I had the Brazilian Blowout, not once but three times because my hair turned out amazing..or so I thought. If I had a way to post a picture of it, I would. I didn’t know the insidious events happening deep within. I DEEPLY regret it. This was when we were told that it was just completely harmless. I cannot express enough how much I miss my waves. My hair appeared luscious but I was tired of the frizz and the flat irons. Now? Well, now my hair grows weak, very, very thin and straight. I’m trying everything I can. My next step is a total detox. It’s been 2 years now and there is no difference in the new growth. I’m going to do a full detox from the inside out, intense workouts, plenty of water, fresh juices, dry saunas, and EFA supplements along with known hair rejuvenating vitamins. After several months, I’m hoping that I see a difference in the new growth. If so, I promise to come back and post. Goal date: 2/2012.

  21. Angelica says:

    Hi! I wanted to know if the hair that is lost due to the Brazilian Blowout, grows back? My mother had it done a few months ago (several times now), and she is experiencing lots of hair loss. This makes me (imagine her) really sad and worried… Will it grow back? Can someone please help? Thanks a lot in advanced!

  22. Raine says:

    I did a brazilian keratin tresatment before and my hair looked awesome and got back to its curlier state months after. But just recently I did it and I believe it was the brazilian blowout instead. My hair no longer curls up at all and its getting drier each and everyday. I’m scared it’ll break. I’m sorry to ask but do you by any chance know how I would be able to find someone to wash it out in either florida or new jersey?

  23. Midnight says:

    The damage is actually caused by the flat iron, it’s been proven.

    the flat iron is one of the most damaging things you can use on hair, especially since you use it extensively and repeatedly during and after the keratin treatment. There is absolutely no science whatsoever to back the demonizing of keratin treatments, the formula itself is great for hair. But common sense dictates that intense heat and flat ironing on your hair type (which is curly and therefore drier and most susceptible to damage) will cause results like this after the formula concentration starts to fade.

    Detailed explanations of similar accounts can be found on Mayo Clinic’s site, Escience, and webmd

    So really, you’re demonizing the wrong culprit.

  24. tawnya says:

    I got a BB done in October right before my honey moon in Jamaica, i was really excited cause i didnt want to have to deal with my frizzy hair in such a humid place. after i got it my hair was still frizzy!!!!!!!!! way frizzy not like advertised to have frizz free hair!! i am not happy. its been 4 months since and my hair will not hold curls from curling iron. i used to be able to do that now i cant!! it sucks. i hope it wears off soon!! ever since i got it i still have to use all the anti frizz products!! i wish i never did it!!! waste of money!!!!

  25. anne says:

    hi all
    i wish i never did this treatment. i had thick wavy hair. my hair is flat but pretty straight now. but i rather have the volume i used to.
    i used to style my hair in nice buns for weddings etc but after the treatment it made it so straight and felt thin. its been 9 months and nothing changed. and i havnt noticed any more hairloss then normal!
    can the treatment stay in this long? hope someone else can tell me it will leave the hair even if its been this long!

  26. Kelly Lynn says:

    Its obvious the person who did your blow out did not do it correctly. My hair turned out very conditioned and straight. I do hope though that my body and thickness returns to my hair as it is very straight now

  27. KK says:

    I don’t know who did your BB, but it sounds like it wasn’t done correctly. Looking at the pictures of you after you had it done, it even LOOKS like it wasn’t done right. Your hair in the first pic actually looks like a “before” shot.
    I’ve been getting BB’s for over two years now, and I LOVE them. My hair was so awful before I got them, but now it’s longer than it ever was before, and it’s silky soft – like it was when I was a kid. I also don’t use nearly as many styling products, and I never have to iron my hair to get it smooth. The BB formula that my salon uses is non-formaldehyde, and I have had no problems with it. I LOVE mine, and will continue to get it done in the future. If you had a bad experience, it’s quite possible that it was the person or the salon doing it. Make sure you get it done with a stylist that has experience, and check with other customers of theirs before getting it done. I did, and I’m glad that I did it. This was the 2nd salon I went to before I found someone I felt confident enough with to have them do the treatment on me. Glad I did my homework!

  28. Rachelle says:

    What you failed to mention is that there are many different kinds of Brazilian Blowouts. Some have relaxer type chemicals in them so you may experience breakage or dryness. I work solely with the Brazilian Blowout Brand and have over 300 clients who love it and swear by it! I have never experienced anything but smooth, silky, shiny frizz free hair with this product. The BB Brand coats the hair with protein as opposed to going into the hair like some brands so there is no downtime with the BB Brand. It even works on the most damaged kind of hair. So don’t be discouraged to trying the Brazilian Blowout, just find the right kind like oh and theres no formaldehyde and hardly any smell. You can see the test results all posted on their website. If I can restore afro type hair,, then the BB would work wonders for your curls!

  29. Stylist says:

    I am a stylist who has been doing Brazilian blowouts for 4 years now. I have many clients that swear by it. Love the results and say it’s life changing. I have done them and also had them done on my hair as well. I have been defending Brazilian blowout to my clients and other stylists. Until just lately. After buying the last bottle I have had all my clients complain of dry/frizzy hair after getting it done. “Doesn’t feel like a normal blowout”. Mind you I have been doing these clients for 4 years. I have never altered the way I do the blowout. I also had it done just last month and it ruined my hair. It was so dry and frizzy. ( I had a different stylist use my solution on my hair). I called Brazilian blowout and they told me the same procedures that I was already using and told me to try it again on another client! Can you believe that? They also told me that I needed to be recertified!! Why would I need to be recertified on a product They CLAIM they haven’t changed? Sure to learn faster and better techniques. If it was so important to be recertified then why haven’t they sent out anything to exisiting brazilian blowout stylists? If the formula wasn’t changed then my original techniques wouldn’t make the hair worse.. Correct? The manager also said that doing the Brazilian blowout over and over may cause it NOT to work on some people anymore. Hmmmm. Funny they claim that it gets better each time you use it. They also claim that it repairs the hair. It does no such thing. Come on. It coats the hair making it seem like its healthy. Soon as it washes out you are left with the same if not worse hair damage you started with. Also does anyone find it funny that they have a new split end treatment?? Well they might as well fix the problems they are causing and make money in the process. I have done so much research on this product and for those of you who think it’s not dangerous. Think again. The Brazilian blowout does have formaldehyde in it. It’s the ZERO that does not. Look up what formaldehyde does to you when heated and breathed in. Not pretty. Sooner or later people are going to find out the truth. I used to believe in Brazilian Blowout. Thought it was a great product. Amazing even. Soon as you have a problem you become the problem. If you question about the product you are treated completely different. Good luck to everyone who tries it or uses it on clients. Hopefully you don’t have the experience I’ve had. Just be careful and please wear masks while doing it. No amount of money is worth your health.

  30. Kennedy says:

    Help.. I had a bb two years ago and my hair dresser said it didn’t take and did it 2x.. My curls still haven’t came back. It’s just a horrible wavy disaster. I’m desperate to get my curls back..

  31. Panamanian says:

    So yes you are right, nope don’t hate the product but my hair has lost the ability to create curls. I have curly, thick, kinky hair.I love how it looks won’t denied but has lost the freedom of having it crazy curl, Rasta style when I feel to.a third of my hair was straight before, then I was able to get it curl now it will never do. The rest is my natural hair with Brazilian but not the same. Waited five months for it to go….nada..nothing. It has already alter the shaft of my hair. So wasn’t a mean Brazilian stylist,she did correctly. But if I have to choose again, I rather mildly relax my hair,than to do Brazilian and be unable to have any of my cute curls again.

  32. Hmm says:

    Eli doesn’t get to determine what’s “rational” or even “racist” after that pointless hate filled rant on why all white women suck (and all men of every race, too, evidently). The OP had a valid complaint about her treatment – the product AND the stylist’s behavior. It’s totally fine to express disappointment about both of those things.

  33. Di says:

    I had bad results on my fourth treatment at a budget friendly salon. Hair is frizzy and weighed down from the treatment. Before it was only frizzy. Hair was even rejecting styling tools. After reading many websites I tried the following: Pantene Pro V with conditioner. Let it soak on my hair and scrubbed salt on to my hair while it was soaking. Rinsed. Seems to have really helped lift some of the keratin out by using a sulfate and sodium chloride product with added salt.

  34. cristina says:

    Within a week of my blow out my hair was coming out in handfuls. 8 months later and my hair won’t hold a curl. I always had compliments on my it’s a hot mess. I take Biotin in hopes it’ll grow out faster from the breakage. Never ever again!

  35. sara says:

    My first BB was amazing– My hair is short- I had recently finished chemo therapy and my hair had grown back way to curly- so I had the BB – as I said it was amazing – the shine was incredible and the hair was so easy to care for- the second and third BB have been a huge disappointment- shine is non-existent and the soft bouncy feel my hair had with the first BB has never returned with either of the last two BB.. I think that we customers should have some recourse, considering the cost of this treatment and to have it fail so miserably- I had a business for many years and if my customer was not satisfied with my product their money was returned, no question asked. There seems to be little to no integrity or pride in workmanship or promises delivered to the customer these days — are these the kind of business people we have raised?

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] broken, and uncharacteristically flat. My once buoyant afro appeared dramatically damaged, and I catalogued its decline in computer screenshots that I’d send to Siobhan. She did the same, her formerly thick and healthy […]

  2. […] In case you’re new to the topic: Brazilian blowouts can and often do contain formaldehyde, even when the packaging or salon says it doesn’t, which is why Canada and France have both yanked it, and why the California government is suing a company that manufactures the solution. Formaldehyde is considered a human carcinogen. Also? Brazilians make your hair look like crap. […]

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