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09-14-11 | Posted by


Salon straightening treatments have been a real game changer for frizz-fighting, with a few short hours in a stylist’s chair shaving cumulative hours off of clients’ daily beauty regimens.  Concerns over formaldehyde content prompted a Cosmetic Industry Review, which should conclude this fall.  In the meantime, we wanted to give a run-down of our experiences with Brazilian Blowout and Coppola Keratin Complex, two of the biggest names in the arena.  We also have some tips for choosing a salon and a stylist when booking a straightening service.

brazilian blowout original_bottle

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Brazilian Blowout – Fairly or not, this company has borne the brunt of criticism. In response to consumer concerns, they now offer two product lines – Brazilian Blowout Original and Brazilian Blowout Zero.  We have only experienced the Original.  The process starts with a special clarifying shampoo to prepare the hair.  The straightening solution is then applied to towel dried hair from root to tip.  Following a blowout, the stylist flat irons the hair.  After rinsing the hair, the stylist applies a masque to seal in the solution then rinses again.  A smoothing serum is worked through the hair and a final blowout completes the process, which took approximately three hours for my thick, long hair.

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Coppola Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy – The salon experience starts with a shampoo and blowdry, after which point the solution is applied and allowed to absorb for 20 minutes.  Hair is blown dry and flat ironed, at which point the treatment is complete.  On my hair it took about two hours. Coppola Keratin promises to eliminate frizz and loosen curls.

Comparison – The Brazilian Blowout takes considerably longer, but in exchange for more chair time I was able to wash my hair immediately.  With Coppola Keratin the first 72 hours are pretty draconian: no washing, sweating, ponytails, pinning back or even tucking the hair behind my ears for fear that it might cause a bend or a dent.  Given all of the concerns about these products and their content, it made caring for three young kids challenging, as I didn’t want them to touch my hair until after I was able to wash it.  Both products have proprietary sulfate-free hair care lines.  I found that I liked the results of the Brazilian Blowout shampoo more but preferred the scent of the Coppola shampoo.

As far as the salon experience itself goes, Coppola is the clear forerunner.  The Brazilian Blowout has more steps, making the process longer and more tedious.  Both treatment’s solutions have a strong odor during the flat ironing phase, but with the Brazilian Blowout I experienced a burning sensation in my eyes and nose.  It was worrisome for me but likely could have been improved had the stylist implemented better ventilation at her station.

What about the results?  The Brazilian Blowout worked incredibly well.  It may have worked a little too well at first, because my hair was bone straight but lacked body.  Within a week or two it regained some volume, and I was delighted to find that I could blow dry my hair with more speed and ease than ever, just running my fingers through as I used a hair dryer with a concentrator attachment.  Washing two or three times a week, I found that the treatment lasted about 16 weeks.

Honestly, I only tried Coppola because I was unnerved by the burning in my eyes and nose with the Brazilian Blowout.  The aldehydes in the Coppola solution are encapsulated, which is said to prevent vaporization.  Still, my stylist diffused any fumes with a small tabletop fan and it worked wonders, making my Coppola treatment far less stinky than my Brazilian Blowout.  I dreaded those 72 hours of babying my hair and had a hard time following the guidelines.  Once I washed my hair it looked great, but my satisfaction was short lived.  Within a month of the service I found that my frizz had returned with a vengeance.  Blow drying minimized it, but ultimately the results were no better than what I could have accomplished with a smoothing product, dryer and round brush.  To my disappointment, the flat iron came out just as quickly as I had stashed it in the bathroom drawer.

Verdict – I loved everything about the Brazilian Blowout except for the fumes during the treatment and the worrisome news reports about its contents.  I eagerly anticipate the results of the current inquiry and will likely book a Brazilian Blowout Zero treatment for my next keratin treatment.  I didn’t find the Coppola service worth the time spent in the salon or the expense.  It bears mentioning that other high profile brands including Bumble and Bumble and L’Oreal are entering the fray with formaldehyde free smoothing treatments.

Top Tips For Booking A Smoothing Service – Whichever treatment you choose, here are a few suggestions from BITB to make your experience as smooth as your hair.

Choose a reputable salon and find out how many times the stylist has performed the service.  You want the expert who does six a week, not three a month.

Ask questions.  Is the treatment recommended for color-treated hair?  Hair that has been previously chemically straightened?  What kind of ventilation does the salon use to assure their clients’ comfort and safety?  Most importantly, once you park it in that stylist’s chair, ask what kind of results you can expect for your hair.  These treatments will yield different effects on coarse, kinky hair or fine, frizzy hair.  A trained stylist should be able to anticipate the outcome once they have a chance to study your hair, and they may suggest another course of action altogether.

Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.  Smoothing treatments crop up on the daily deal sites all the time, but often times there are considerations that don’t even show up in the fine print.  Some salons will charge clients more if their hair requires additional solution, typically on a per ounce basis.  Ask if aftercare products are included in the price.  Find out which version of the treatment is being promoted; some smoothing treatments have different levels and salons often promoted the entry-level treatment.  Clients might only learn that they need to upgrade the treatment once they are in the stylist’s chair.  We love beauty bargains, but this is one of those instances where we think that consumers can’t afford to be cheap.  Ultimately we would advise spending a bit more (and skipping the nickel-diming routine of restrictive promotions) if it means getting a seasoned stylist in a reputable salon.

Above all, do your homework.  Technology and the beauty industry have given us incredible possibilities.  With a little research you can find the right treatment and get the results that you desire.

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