A controversial cosmetic Brazilian hair procedure involving treating hair with a candle flame has grown in popularity after several models revealed they use it to keep their locks in shape.
Candle-cutting, or Velaterapia as it’s known in Brazil, is popular with Victoria’s Secret models including Alessandra Ambrosio and Isabeli Fontana. Even the beauty editor of Brazilian Vogue has endorsed the treatment, calling it ‘unbelievably’ effective for making the hair look healthy. Women are being tempted into the treatment by the promise that their split ends can be removed from their hair without losing any length.
A new hair craze
The hair treatment involves separating the hair into section small twisted sections. Once twisted, a lit candle will be run along the lengths of the hair. It is thought that the candle flame will make split ends stick out and then burn off. This is then followed by a basic trim and a deep conditioning treatment.
According to salons that offer the treatment, the flame will also open up the hair cuticles, making it more receptive to the deep conditioning treatments that are applied after the burning is finished. The whole process takes around 3 and a half hours and it is recommended to take place once every four months.
Following the growing popularity of this unusual treatment, a number of blogs have voiced concerns over using a candle to trim hair, not least because treating hair with an open flame comes with a substantial risk of catching fire.
The Daily Mail sent a journalist to New York to try the craze, leaving commentators horrified that people might attempt the seemingly simple $200 treatment at home with horrendous consequences.
Hair loss caused by burning hair
As hair is so flammable, there are many instances where hair has caught fire and burnt off, leaving damaged hair follicles and permanent hair loss.
Celebrities including Michael Jackson and Jackie Bird both lost hair when their tresses caught fire. Jackie Bird’s hair caught fire from a candle, demonstrating just how dangerous this new treatment can be. Michael Jackson’s hair caught fire in 1984, causing second degree burns on the back of his head and leaving him with a bald patch.
When skin is badly burnt on the scalp, the hair follicles are irreversibly damaged and replaced with scar tissue, leading to hair loss. This kind of hair loss is known as Cicatricial (or scarring) Alopecia and, unlike some hair loss conditions, is permanent.
Leonora Doclis, trichologist at The Belgravia Centre explains more about Velaterapia and the hair loss risks involved: “It is generally safe in the hands of well-practiced experts. It should only be the top of the hair that sticks out when you twist it that gets singed. Velaterapia is an old practice that is common in Spain and Brazil and is effective in removing split ends without sacrificing the length of your hair. It can also be used on men for trimming facial hair.”
“The fact that the heat from the candle flame helps to splay or open the hair cuticles as a natural consequence of the process does help conditioning treatments to be absorbed. However, this is more of a side effect. The conditioners then smooth the cuticles again, leaving you with no split ends and well-conditioned hair – the kind of beautiful, shiny tresses so beloved by celebrities in particular.”
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.