Considering a Brazilian Blowout? Hear What These Women Have to Say First

Brazilian Blowouts

The Brazilian Blowout is all the rage with women who are cursed with difficult-to-manage hair. It’s the kind of treatment that seems to be an answer to prayers, and women all over the country are dying to pay the exceptionally pricey fee to have their hair blowout by something that will make their hair straight, frizz-free and totally gorgeous for as many as several months at a time. The product, which is labeled as totally safe and without hazard, is not all it’s cracked up to be. Many women have this done several times throughout the year and swear by it. Others haven’t experienced anything positive when it comes to the Brazilian blowout. What we have are the facts.

What is a Brazilian blowout, exactly? It’s a chemical treatment that relaxes the hair so that you can wash it and wear it for several months. It helps to reduce frizz and fuzz, it can tame curls or even make your hair straight if you want it straight. It’s a process that’s very popular because so many women want more manageable hair, and this treatment gives them the option to have a few treatments a year and have gorgeous, beautiful hair in between each one. The problem is that it contains a dangerous chemical that has been labeled as seriously dangerous, and companies are still offering this product despite the warnings, lawsuits and other negative issues the product has. Before you consider a Brazilian blowout, perhaps you might want to hear from some of the women who have had experience with them, who have suffered because of them. This is just a small number of the many women who have been affected by formaldehyde poisoning as a result of Brazilian blowouts. Keep in mind not all women are affected, but that the risk is just too great.

The Oregon Health and Science University (from now on referred to as OHSU) has found that the chemical used in the Brazilian blowout that gives it its ability to make hair so amazing is actually formaldehyde. What’s that, you say? Formaldehyde; the stuff that is most commonly used in regards to dead bodies for various reasons that don’t matter because, honestly, who wants anything associated with dead bodies on their hair?

The truth is that the formaldehyde in the Brazilian blowout chemical is dangerous to women. It’s a human carcinogen, which in case you did not already know, is something that causes cancer. It’s been known to release chemicals into the air that make women doing this procedure at home and in salons very, very sick. It can affect your breathing, cause your throat to burn, and even make you sick. When you see a woman wearing a face mask as she begins applying the chemical to your hair, it should probably give you a bit of warning that what you’re doing to your hair is probably not the safest thing you’ve ever attempted.

It’s not a nationwide ban, yet. However, there are a number of salons across the country that have simply banned the product from inside their walls. These companies have experienced dangerous side effects to their clients and their employees and have decided that they no longer want the substance in their buildings. There does not happen to be an official number in regards to how many salons have banned this product, but it is known that the number is growing on a regular basis as more and more women find their health is compromised – because of the side effects of the dangerous chemicals – by the use of this product. For that reason, don’t be surprised if you ask about a Brazilian blowout and your salon tells you they don’t allow them in their business.

Many salon owners have banned the substance from within their walls, but they look the other way when their employees accept money from clients to come to their homes to apply the chemical to their hair anyway. It’s not something the salon is liable for – if the salon even knows. Many stylists don’t tell their bosses or employers that they are still giving Brazilian blowouts to their clients after hours and on their days off because they don’t want to face the consequences of their actions. However, it’s not uncommon to find a sort of ‘black market’ ring of stylists that will do at Brazilian for a slightly discounted price at your home with the promise they will not divulge your secret to your employers or coworkers.

Jennifer’s Story

Jennifer is a hair stylist that has been licensed for more than two decades as a hair stylist. Her entire life was changed because of the Brazilian blowout, and not because she was so happy with the straight hair she received from it. She was a stylish who was exposed to the chemical back in 2010, which caused her to become very ill. She was sick after only her first exposure to the chemical, and it was bad enough to cause her to seek out medical help and opinions. Her doctor informed her that she had chemical poisoning based on the symptoms she exhibited. From that point on, Jennifer found it difficult to do the things she did on a regular basis. She found being at work hard because she couldn’t breathe well around the chemicals that she once had no problem with. Since her exposure, she’s moved to a salon that has banned the treatments, but it hasn’t helped. The chemical reactivates with heat, so anyone that comes into the salon that had a Brazilian at one time can reintroduce the chemical into the air, causing Jennifer to become even sicker. It’s been 4 years since her exposure, and she’s sicker than ever. She has bloody noses, rashes covered in blisters and even bronchitis. In speaking with other women exposed to the formaldehyde in the Brazilian blowout, Jennifer has learned that she’s not the only one with the same symptoms and health issues. She’s also littered with  medical bills that only pile up even further with each illness.

Brazilian Blowout

Natalija’s Story

When Natalija was 35, she began a new career as a stylist. She was working in a small salon in New York City, and she swore by the Brazilian blowout on her own hair. She began using the product on her clients in 2011, and she was eventually doing three or four treatments a day, along with the two or three other stylists in the small room they shared in their salon. For nine months, she began to notice she’d become sicker and sicker, and she had no idea why until it was brought to her attention the dangers of the Brazilian chemical. She began to suffer from sinus issues, respiratory infections that wouldn’t go away and even blisters inside her nose that made it difficult for her to breathe correctly. She began experiencing palpitations when she ran, something she’d done her entire life, and her breath was so short when running that she had to see her doctor to get an inhaler to help her run.

She’s currently experiencing difficulties at work, and she’s forced to decide what she wants to do with the rest of her life. Being around the treatment in the salon is killing her health, but even if it’s banned, there are so many women who have already had the treatment done that she could be exposed to the chemicals again anytime a client’s hair is hot in any way. She now has to decide whether or not she will continue doing hair or if she will have to find another career so that she can save her health.

Ashley’s Story

Ashley is a stylist in a salon that has not banned Brazilian blowouts, but she does not offer them to her clients. However, her colleagues do and she’s sick because of it. Her daily exposure to the chemicals used to straighten the hair of her salon’s clients have caused Ashley to experience some very serious health issues. She now bleeds anytime she sneezes or coughs. In the course of her life, she’s never experienced any issues with bronchitis, but she’s had it numerous times in the past few months. She’s got allergies all of a sudden, she finds it difficult to breathe, and she is regularly short of breath. She is just one of the stylists in her salon that have experienced the same health issues, and their medical bills are piling up. Leaving her job is not an option, so she’s asked her employers several times to consider shutting down their Brazilian business, but the popular trend is so big and so profitable that the people who own her salon are not willing to give up the business – even if it means that their employees are becoming sick.

Ashley now sees several doctors on a regular basis because of her health issues, and her symptoms are not improving with medication and treatment. Every single day she spends in her salon with other stylists giving their clients Brazilian blowouts is just one more time she’s exposed to the chemical, and just one more time in which she is made even sicker than she was the previous day.

Dawn’s Story

Dawn is a newer hair stylist. She was working in a salon part time when she was attending school the first time she heard of a Brazilian, and she was intrigued. While listening to a lecture on the subject one day, the girl next to her turned to her and said she would refuse if they tried to make her try something like that and that she’d heard it caused cancer and gave pregnant women’s babies birth defects. Dawn thought that it sounded amazing, and she was willing to try it on herself if she could afford it, especially since she had such curly, frizzy hair that needed some taming.

Dawn never did try it on herself. Over the next few months, her salon made the decision to bring the treatment into their walls and she was exposed to the chemicals on a regular basis. It wasn’t long before the smell of the chemical was enough to make her feel as if she had to vomit. She was sick all of a sudden when she’d never been sick in her life. She’d become dizzy when performing the hair treatment on one of her clients, and she’d even begun to see rashes appear on her body that shouldn’t be there. Dawn had a constant sore throat, eyes that watered and she was diagnosed with a constant sinus infection and sent away from several doctors with prescriptions for drugs that did nothing to help her with her pain and her side effects.

It would be months before she would finally see a doctor who realized that she was suffering from formaldehyde poisoning. She was also diagnosed as having developed asthma, which is something she was shocked to hear. She was frustrated and angry and hurt that the companies that created the product had lied and said that there were no chemicals in their product. She was sick, and she had to make a choice. She was working on her apprenticeship, but her doctor told her that she would only become sicker and sicker the more she was exposed to the chemical. She couldn’t leave her job and find one at another salon, because the stuff was everywhere. She had to decide whether or not she would continue on her career path at the risk of her health, or if she would quit her job and find something that wouldn’t make her sicker than she already is.

What Dawn did was find a salon that doesn’t offer Brazilian blowouts. Her new salon does offer keratin treatments, which are dangerous for her as well, but they are very good about only doing these treatments when Dawn is not around. However, even years later, she is still frequently absent from work because of her illness. She is very sensitive to most smells, chemicals and other substances, and it’s affected her life as a whole.

Photos by Getty Images


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