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We Tried It: A Brazilian Blowout

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What is it: Brazilian Blowout, a super-strong hair treatment that uses amino acids to seal and smooth the hair cuticle — and thus straighten my very curly hair for three months

Who tried it: Alex Apatoff, Senior Style Editor

Why I did it: Because Aug. 21 is National Brazilian Blowout Day and I’m nothing if not celebratory

Level of Difficulty: A 4 when you’re in the chair; the chemicals are intense and it’s a time commitment. A -65 when you get home. I never knew haircare could be so easy! (P.S. See the photos below? That’s my curly hair on a good day after two hours of maintenance, at left, and then air-dried post-Brazilian Blowout, at right.)

Brazilian Blowout trial
Courtesy Alex Apatoff(2)

More than once, I’ve heard a hairstylist tell me I have “six heads of hair.” It’s thick, curly and often unmanageable (see here, here, here and here for examples), and I’m often a slave to it — planning workouts around my washing schedule, avoiding pools and oceans, and fearing for it whenever the humidity index is high.

And more than once, people have suggested the Brazilian Blowout to me, but I’ve resisted for three reasons: 1) I tried Japanese straightening in high school and will forever be scarred by my curly growing-out roots situation. 2) It’s not cheap — the price at NYC’s very chic Alessandro Mangerini salon is $300. 3) I like my curly hair, despite its quirks. But when the salon invited me to try it out for this noteworthy national holiday, my curiosity got the better of me. After all, it wears off (instead of grows out, like previous treatments) in three months, so if I hated it, it was pretty low-commitment.

Brazilian Blowout trial
Courtesy Alex Apatoff(2)

Stylist Lisa DeGiacomo prepped me by clarifying my hair twice, then we went to go sit outside on the salon’s lovely outdoor terrace — something she likes to do when applying the Brazilian Blowout, because the chemicals are intense. (If you’re going to do this at your local salon, ensure the room is properly ventilated — even outdoors on a beautiful, breezy day, the chemicals made my eyes tear and sting. It would be fresh hell to do it indoors without enough air circulation.) She painted the mix on, section by section, until it was all coated, then blasted my hair with the dryer. Once it was fully dry, she sealed the treatment in with a flatiron, resulting in the smoothest blowout I’d ever had (see photos above). Lisa sent me on my way with instructions to not wash, clip, bend or otherwise crease my hair for 24 hours, at which point I could wash it with a sodium chloride-free shampoo. “Your hair is going to dry in minutes,” she told me. [Note: the Brazilian Blowout reps clarified that it’s safe to wash your hair or put it in a ponytail right after the treatment.]

I’ve been burned before, so I didn’t believe her — until, as an experiment, I walked out of my apartment Monday morning with soaking wet hair with almost no product in it. You can see the results at the top. People stopped me to ask if I’d gotten it done: “Your hair looks so good! Did you get a blowout this morning?” Using a hotel hairdryer on it a few days later produced similarly sleek, smooth results, in about a fifth of the time it would have taken me previously. I was absolutely stunned (and delighted!) by the overnight transformation in my texture.

The verdict: I’m a believer. If you had told me that I would be able to walk out of my house with combed-through wet hair and look polished and professional in a half-hour, I would have called your doctor — but now that I can see the results for myself, I’m actually amazed. Between the chemicals and the cost, I’m not sure I’ll do it every season, but I can definitely see this becoming a summer tradition — the hair-related time, energy, stress and planning it will save me in hot, humid weather is absolutely worth $100 a month. Now I’m off to go celebrate National Brazilian Blowout day with a Caipirinha and my killer new do!