By Olivia |
WOMEN throughout time have gone to great lengths to tame wild hair. And oddly, the more modern we’ve become as a society, the more barbaric the things we put our mane’s through have become – from toxic chemicals to torture devices that reach ever-intensifying heat.
Often the smooth, shiny results seem to be worth it. But the excessive chemicals and heat can destroy your tresses over time – if not in one fell swoop. The fallout from over-processing may just be your hair!
But I understand this. I have fine, long curly hair that has always more resembled a tangle of steel wool than a glorious crown. And I have fought with it every day of my life.
I was asked to model for a Brazilian keratin treatment. And after learning about it, I enthusiastically agreed.
Here’s why. Unlike other straightening processes, this treatment does not restructure (read: damage) your hair, instead it sheaths it in a protective coat of keratin. (Keratin is a strong protein that is the main structural component of hair and nails, in humans and animals.) Hair becomes impervious to humidity even though it will make waves and even curl if you want it to. Hair becomes manageable and your styling time shrinks dramatically.
What is a Brazilian keratin treatment?
Your stylist will wash your hair two or more times with a special clarifying shampoo. Then she’ll blow dry it. When it’s about 90 percent dry, she’ll apply the product, getting every strand from root to ends. Lastly, she’ll straighten it, using a flat iron set at 450 degrees, taking tiny sections and going over them a minimum of five times each. (If your hair is super-kinky and/or you want it super-straight, she may go over it 10 times.)
It takes several days – four for the brand used on me – for the keratin to cure. In that time, you cannot wet your hair. You cannot tie it up, pin it back or even wedge it behind your ears. Think of getting a manicure – the polish may feel perfectly dry to the touch, but if it hasn’t completely cured, it can easily get dented if you’re not careful. For me, those days were the worst part.
The ugly side of beauty
In my foolish youth, I had subjected my hair to scorching blow-dry sessions, daily if not more often, and lye-containing chemical relaxers. Even after one hairdresser forgot about me and left me with burn marks along my hairline, I went back for more because, wow, I could swing my hair just like those mane models on TV. Often I’d buy a box kit and do it myself and sometimes leave it on so long that it got too straight, hanging lifelessly in limp defeat.
Eventually I wised up and began embracing my curls. That worked to an extent; we made friends and sometimes my hair would even work with me and look pretty good.
But that friendship went out the window with the promise of trouble-free — frizz-free! — hair.
And it delivered.
Wash-and-wear hair – really!
My hair looked silky and healthy and stayed that way even in soupy, summer air. If I didn’t have the time or the desire to straighten it, I could let it dry naturally and it looked fine, with a smooth gentle wave to it. (That’s without slopping any product on it – something I could never do before.) And if I did opt for a sleek look, my styling time went from 40 minutes or so to about 10. Another great thing is, it gradually wears off, so you don’t have to suffer through a growing out stage.
There are a few down sides. I’ve already mentioned one: your hair returns to its normal, misbehavin’ self in 2-4 months. Two, the process is time-consuming and expensive. If you have long hair or thick hair, the treatment can take 3-4 hours and cost $250-$350. Also, you have to avoid sodium chloride in all your hair products because it will strip the treatment out of your hair, and didn’t you just pay a small fortune for it. And, even with the almost-no-formaldehyde formulas that are available, the product being sealed onto your hair with the flat iron can make your eyes sting and irritate your throat.
But we here at How to Grow Hair say, what the hell. You and your hair have been through worse!
Did you go Brazilian? Tell us about it — good or bad, we’d love to hear from you! : )