Hair

The Brazilian Blowout takes chemically process hair to a whole new level. Using a multi-hour process that involves keratin and formaldehyde, which is found in embalming fluid, a Brazilian Blowout can straighten frizzy hair for up to three months. The Brazilian Blowout might seem like a godsend for women who had been running to the salon multiple times each week for a blow-out or flat-ironing session, but this new technique is no answer for healthy hair.

For centuries, women and men have undertaken numerous extreme measures to improve their attractiveness. It’s not all vanity; the more attractive you are, the better chance you have of getting hired, getting married and otherwise getting what you want in life. For women, who historically have had few other means to acquire power, beauty is even more important.

A woman’s hair is her crowning glory. Many breast cancer patients going through chemotherapy say that losing their hair was even more traumatic than losing their breasts. While standards of beauty are shifting and even a shiny bald head can be attractive, many women still try to achieve a “classic” look, which includes straightened hair.

Traditional hair relaxers contain lye and are a temporary fix for frizz and unwieldy curls. Not healthy by any means, relaxers can leave behind a nasty chemical burn – and a bald head – if left on the scalp too long.

Banned in Canada and the European Union, Brazilian Blowouts use a very high concentration of chemicals that are sealed into the hair cuticle with heat. Originating in Brazil, the country that also gave us the unhealthy-yet-hot thong underwear, these blowouts cost anywhere from $200-600, depending on the length of hair. Stylists who apply Brazilian Blowouts must use a gas mask when they do so – but the client getting her hair done, as well as any other customers around, just breath in this noxious combination of chemicals as the solution is applied to the hair.

What’s so bad about spewing formaldehyde into the air of your immediate environment? Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, and breathing its vapors causes immediate symptoms including headaches, burning eyes, bloody nose and respiratory distress. Long-term exposure to formaldehyde can damage lung function permanently and increase the risk of cancer.

Obviously, women are choosing the immediate gain of a hot head of hair over any negative repercussions in the future for their health. Salons are choosing the immediate gain of several hundred dollars over the health of their employees or clients.

When your beauty treatment requires a gas mask, perhaps its time to rethink the reasons behind your styling choices. Attempting to conform to another person’s idea of beauty is a bad idea to begin with, a challenge that can only be failed as you compare yourself to others.

As a straight-haired woman, I cannot begin to count the number of times I have been at a vanity mirror curling my hair with a hot iron, standing next to a girlfriend with curly hair who is straightening hers. It seems like no matter what physical attributes we are blessed with, we are always seeking to improve upon them. While improving your lot in life is to be admired, at some point we must draw the line – and that line comes right before the gas mask.

Image: martinak15