Is A Brazilian Blowout Better Than Keratin? Here’s What Pros Say

Experts weigh in.

Originally Published: 
here's the difference between Brazilian blowout and keratin treatment

We put our hair through a lot. From coloring and relaxing to daily heat styling, our tresses are tired. But when stubborn frizz or lackluster locks plague, you have to call in the big guns. Enter a smoothing treatment that delivers gorgeous results fast: the Brazilian blowout.

Whether you want to go straight or tame your curls, the customizable smoothing treatment eliminates frizz and infuses shine by way of a bonding technology that actually improves the overall condition of your hair. What’s more, results are immediate — there’s none of the downtime that comes with keratin (like waiting three days to wash your hair). The treatment can cut blow-dry time in half and lasts up to 12 weeks, depending on your hair type and routine. Plus, if you like to heat style your hair on the reg to tame frizz or smooth curls, you can get away with doing so far less often with this treatment in tow (here’s to the no-heat hairstyling revolution).

While the service can be pricey, averaging about $300 nationwide (though the cost will depend on how much hair you have), the results are impressive — smooth, shiny, bouncy locks (yes, please!). But if you’re still riddled with trepidation, fear not. TZR tapped Brazilian blowout experts to further explain why a Brazilian blowout is worth the investment.

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Brazilian Blowout Vs. Keratin Treatment

When comparing a Brazilian blowout vs. keratin, the difference comes down to the active ingredients. "The Brazilian blowout uses amino acids — which are much smaller molecules — allowing the treatment to be rinsed out the same day,” the global director of education at Brazilian Professionals tells TZR. “Keratin [on the other hand] must crystallize over 72 hours. With a Brazilian blowout, you don't have to worry about over-'keratinizing' the hair, which ultimately can cause breakage." Plus, you’ll have to be careful for about three days after a keratin treatment — no clipping the hair back, no ponytails, no washing — or you might dent it. With a Brazilian blowout, you’re good to resume your normal hair routine right away.

Both treatments are safe for color-treated hair and will leave it feeling healthy and shiny, but one of the major differences in the two treatments is the amount of formaldehyde used. “The Brazilian blowout has much higher formaldehyde, about 12%,” says New York Stylist and salon owner Nunzio Saviano. “Most of the keratin treatments on the market today have very low formaldehyde, Lasio has 0.02%, and some have 0 formaldehyde, such as Cezanne and Magic Sleek.” Formaldehyde is an irritant, however, so some people will experience watery eyes or worst case scenario, a burning throat. “It’s without a doubt a health risk,” notes Saviano. So if you’re allergic, sensitive to the ingredient, or just want to play it safe, it’s best to opt for a low-formaldahyde alternative like those mentioned by Saviano or another non-toxic hair treatment.

Another notable difference between a keratin treatment and a Brazilian blowout is what a client might use them for. While both are smoothing and frizz-eliminating, Brazilian blowouts cannot fix damaged hair in the way that keratin treatments can. “If your frizz is stemming from damage, then your treatment would need to be one that focuses on healing the cuticle of your hair, as opposed to someone who has healthy hair and wants to smooth or loosen curls,” Vickie Vidov, celebrity hair stylist and founder of Vidov West, tells TZR. It will be up to your stylist to assess your needs and goals to choose the right treatment for you.

Who Is A Candidate For A Brazilian Blowout?

Brazilian blowout is great for all hair types and complements color-treated hair well for a post-color treatment because it’s nurturing and seals the cuticle. “Anyone who wants smoother hair, or anyone who needs serious repair to their hair [is a candidate for a Brazilian blowout],” explains Vidov. You will need to wait two weeks after a treatment to do color, however, so the color can make its way into the cuticle.

Someone wanting volume, frizz control, or straightening might benefit from a Brazilian blowout. “Because it's a customizable treatment, you can use a flat iron to add volume at the root, giving bounce to limp hair, or use lower heat to maintain body and curl while eliminating frizz,” says Brazilian Blowout’s director of global education.

What to Expect at Your Appointment

For both Brazilian blowouts and keratin treatments, the process is pretty similar. “What changes is the client’s need,” Saviano tells TZR. “Some people don’t mind having a little more frizz if it means having more body left in the hair, in other words 80% less frizz equals to 80% less body, or 50% less frizz equals 50% less body.”

At either type of appointment, you’ll start off with a consultation to discuss your needs and expectations with the stylist so they can determine the best treatment for you. “Then the process begins,” says stylist and salon owner Kate Gavin. “We clarify your hair to remove any buildup. This helps the solution work better and faster, then lightly towel dry it, and get to work.” For both treatments, the solution will be applied to the entire head, avoiding the scalp, then combed through from root to ends in small sections.

Unlike a keratin treatment, the Brazilian blowout has no processing time, so it will be blowdried into the hair with a round brush immediately instead of after five to 30 minutes. Then, your stylist will flat iron your hair to lock in the product. “After the flat iron work is done,” Gavin tells TZR, “both keratin treatments (excluding semi-permanent keratin treatments) and Brazilian blowout have to be rinsed out, but not shampooed. From there, your hair will need to be dried and styled again.”

The amount of time you have to sit in the salon chair (and the dollars you spend) will depend on the hair you’re working with. “The thickness and the length of the hair determines the cost — it can take anywhere from an hour and a half for short hair and up to three hours with longer, thicker hair,” notes Saviano. “The longer the service, the more expensive the cost.”

Brazilian Blowout Care & Maintenance

Once you exit the salon with your shiny, sleek new ‘do, how long does a Brazilian blowout last? “These treatments last about three months,” offers Vidov, given you take care of your hair properly and aren’t swimming in salt water and washing your hair every single day. “You need to use a safe sulfate-free shampoo, each treatment comes with their own recommended shampoo. The growth looks different depending on the natural curl and frizz,” she adds. While the treatments eventually wash out, Vidov points out that the hair shouldn’t go back to exactly the level of frizz there was before since the treatments “heal the hair strands.”

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