Brazilian Hair Straightening: To Do or Not
October 17, 2013By Rossette Allen

Women are constantly seeking ways and means of achieving hair that is not only more attractive but also more manageable. With increased awareness and consciousness about making healthier and more natural lifestyle decisions, many people are turning away from hair care methods that require harsh chemicals, and are embracing other less hazardous techniques. The Brazilian Keratin Treatment is one such alternative.

The Brazilian Keratin Treatment is an innovative process that transforms the hair without chemically altering the hair structure. This Brazilian hair straightener is a keratin-based solution that gently relaxes the hair and removes frizz. It was developed in Brazil allegedly to cater to the female obsession with perfection. It was introduced as a means of altering their hair texture to reflect silky, shiny, and flawless bone-straight hair. The practice soon became popular across the world and was introduced in the US in 2006.


Faced with a lifetime of struggling with harsh chemical relaxers, licensed cosmetologist Marcia Teixeira introduced the Marcia Teixeira® Keratin Treatment in February of that year, “creating an entirely new category of product never seen before in the salon industry.”


The reason behind putting keratin in the hair seems somewhat redundant since our hair is made up of keratin, which is the protein in hair that gives it strength and keeps the strands looking smooth. Why then would it become necessary to add keratin to keratin? The fact is that heat, styling and the environment causes the hair to weaken. Therefore, adding keratin helps to renew its strength.


The original Brazilian Keratin Treatment was a temporary hair straightening method that was achieved by sealing the hair with keratin and a flat iron. Initially, one of the chemical components used in the process was formaldehyde, which gets the hair straight and smooth.


It is said that a mortician was preparing to preserve a corpse with this gas when it spilled onto the table, soaking half of the corpse's hair. It was soon discovered that the section of hair that was doused with this chemical became noticeably straight, while the untouched portion maintained its naturally curly texture. This apparently led to further experimenting, leading to the ingredient being used in the Brazilian Keratin Treatment. The method has since been altered in many countries, since the ingredient formaldehyde is thought to be harsh, dangerous, and banned in many countries. Other countries have put guidelines in place as to what percentage of the ingredient is safe to use. This somewhat altered the outcome of the treatment as the hair no longer became bone-straight because of the absence of that key ingredient.


There have been mixed reviews about the Brazilian Keratin Treatment, but we will examine the pros and cons of this hair straightening and strengthening method to make a more accurate determination.




1.  Suitable for All Hair Types


The Brazilian Keratin Treatment can be applied to all hair types- whether curly, coily, kinky, relaxed or color treated. The treatment is designed to improve the overall health of any kind of hair. The treatment actually works better on chemically-processed hair as it is more porous and better prepared to receive and absorb the solution. This is indeed a meaningful advantage, since just about every hair type struggles with frizz.


2.  Smooths and Strengthens Hair


  The treatment provides a coating of keratin which is protein-based. This helps to strengthen and protect the hair’s cuticle. It treats the hair within and coats the outside of the hair, leaving it soft, shiny and frizz-free. The day-to-day wear and tear on the hair can cause damage to which the hair is susceptible because the strands are exposed to the elements. What the treatment does is add the protein-based keratin to the hair, which will strengthen the hair and seal it in to prevent future damage. A very hot iron employed to fuse the perfect solution results in smooth, straight, more manageable hair.


3.    Adds Versatility

The Brazilian Keratin Treatment does not alter the molecular structure of the hair, and as such, does not yield pin straight results. The treatment, unlike relaxers, does not permanently break the bonds of the hair. Hence, it gradually reverts back to the natural hair texture. The treatment is said to last an average of 2-4 months, allowing the decision to either repeat the process or to go back to wearing your hair in its pre-treatment state. The nature of the process also allows you to alter the outcome. For example, if you shampoo your hair before the prescribed 72-hour wait time, it will result in the reversion of some amount of your natural curl pattern, as opposed to a bone-straight outcome.    


4.  Gentle on the Hair


The process of straightening is gentle on the hair and will not cause damage. Unlike the treacherous relaxer application process where the bonds of the hair are permanently broken, the Brazilian treatment does not break the bonds of the hair. Nor does it pose a threat to the structural health of the hair. The Brazilian Keratin Treatment has a pH range of between 4 and 5, exactly matching the normal pH of hair itself.


5. Makes Hair More Manageable


Nobody likes to spend all day trying to style their hair, and the Brazilian Straightening Treatment guards against that. The blow-drying and flat ironing time is markedly reduced after applying the treatment. If your hair is not in good shape, it is sometimes more difficult and time-consuming to get it looking good and feeling healthy. The treatment improves the health of the hair to the point where it becomes significantly easier to handle.





1.   Time-Consuming and Tedious

Expect a keratin treatment to take at least a couple of hours to complete, from beginning to end. The application process can take an average of 2-4 hours, depending on the length of your hair. There are also some post application time-sensitive restrictions that have to be adhered to in order to achieve the best results. Water is not allowed to touch the hair for a straight 72 hours after the application; this includes avoiding activities that would induce perspiration in the head. The hair should not be placed in a ponytail during this 72-hour waiting period. This is important because this will interfere with the results, and potentially cause premature reversion.


2.    Treatment is Costly

The Brazilian Straightening Treatment is not cheap, and depending upon where it is done, you may find a wide range in price. You can expect to pay anywhere between $150 - $350. The price will vary depending upon the length of your hair, and considering the fact that the treatment has to be repeated every 2-3 months, you can easily find yourself dishing out a good $1400 annually to maintain this do.



3.   Hazardous Chemical

There has been some debate as to the safety of using an ingredient called formaldehyde, which is an important ingredient in the solution that helps to straighten the hair. It is thought to be potentially harmful if used on a person with skin sensitivity, and can cause an allergic reaction such as a rash, itching etc.  Many stylists perform its application in a well-ventilated area with both parties wearing a protective mask. As mentioned earlier, some countries either totally ban or restrict its use in the treatment. In many cases, the concentration is deemed safe if a concentration of 2 percent of formaldehyde is used in cosmetic and hair care products. Some Brazilian Keratin Treatment systems do not include the actual ingredient formaldehyde, but derivatives of it.



The building buzz about the new hair obsession known as the Brazilian Keratin Treatment has reached the masses -- and the Hollywood stars and celebrities are no different. Famous stars such as Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan, Sienna Miller, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and Ashley Tishdale are reported devotees to the Brazilian Blowout. This is a variation to the Brazilian Keratin Treatment, which doesn’t leave the hair completely straight, but leaves it with more volume.  


Actress Rebecca DaCosta was recently interviewed on Newdradio about her upcoming role in the movie, Brazilian Rules. Although she herself does not use the treatment, she has attested to the fact that Brazil is one of the biggest countries in the beauty industry, and that the Brazilian Straightening treatment is, in fact, very popular- not only in Brazil, but around the world.


After carefully examining the pros and cons of the treatment, it leaves one to draw the conclusion that the payoff may be worth the prize. The little hang ups and restrictions would be worth it if it means that in the end you will enjoy healthy hair. Be sure to seriously consider whether or not this treatment is good for you. As with everything else, everyone will not necessarily enjoy a favorable outcome. I believe that if hair thrives and maintains good health, it will obtain and retain growth. The Brazilian Keratin Treatment offers a platform on which this can be achieved.







Candie's Natural Hairnamix was birthed a few months after Jamaican native Rossette "Candie" Allen began her natural hair journey in May 2010. She gears this column toward naturals, transitioning naturals, aspiring naturals and the naturally curious, sharing experiences, expertise and experiments while celebrating emancipation from chemical slavery.


Visitor Comments (1)
Hair and Beauty
Posted By HMAY on October 22, 2013
I think a woman's hair will always be her pride and glory and a reflection of her beauty. I agree that natural hair ,no matter its texture, is the best way to go but we live in a world where "perfect" hair is attainable. So, woman will always struggle with the to-do or not to-do.
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