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Reports of Health Risks and Hair Loss From Brazilian Blow Dry

The Brazilian blow dry – a hair treatment that pledges to make frizzy hair smooth and sleek – could cause significant health risks in users and could even lead to hair loss due to excessive amounts of formaldehyde, according to a report in today’s Daily Mail.

Karen Dandy, the owner of Spires hair salon in East Grinstead, West Sussex, was visited by a rep selling the hair straightening treatment. According to the report, she watched in horror as the five people in the salon began to develop headaches and nausea within 30 minutes of trialling the treatment.

Formaldehyde, a compound that has industrial uses and one that has been classed as a probable carcinogen by the US Environmental Protection Agency, strengthens such hair-straightening solutions and leads to a longer-lasting result. But while EU rules dictate that the amount of formaldehyde must be less than 0.2% as a safety precaution, some manufacturers in America have been caught out using formulas that contain more than 50 times that amount.

The process for applying the Brazilian blow-dry – a treatment that originated in Brazil, and then gained great popularity in America before spreading to Europe – firstly involves washing the hair with a particular shampoo that opens the hair cuticles, so they can better receive the solution. The straightening treatment is then applied, combed through and left on the hair for roughly half an hour. The process is rounded off by the application of hot straighteners which are used to set in the formula.

However, the heating stage of the treatment makes the formaldehyde give off fumes that can bring about numerous complaints, including headaches, allergic reactions and dermatitis. There is also further concern that, if formaldehyde comes into direct contact with the scalp, the compound can penetrate the hair follicle and permanently damage those cells that are responsible for hair growth.

In the America, manufacturers of the Brazilian Blowout — one of the most popular forms of the treatment — are currently facing a lawsuit from 200 people who claim the solution has damaged their health. Meanwhile, in California, the attorney general has filed a lawsuit alleging the Brazilian Blowout product still contains high levels of formaldehyde, despite the company’s claims that it has re-formulated the treatment.


26th May, 2011 at 3:55 pm


I just had the brazlian blow dry yesterday! Today my head i is dry, my skin iches and my asthma has got worse! The hair dresser didnt give out any warnings or advice about what effects it could bring. She only told me i cant wash my hair for 4 days after she was putting the stuff on my hair! Also i didnt know i had to use strightners after everyday! somthing im not keen on as have dry hair. Also the left me with broken hair and was sticking up and it looked terrible. My hair was better before i went in. Good bye a hundred pounds hello bad hair day! I feel i have wasted my money, Im trying to was out the chamicals and save my hair, Some birthday im haveing :(

12th October, 2017 at 1:15 pm


I did a Brazilian blow out a week ago and after washing off the mask I experience severe headache, sore throat, bleeding nose and heart palpitations. Today the seven day I notice a hair lost like complete baldness

12th October, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Sarah Belgravia

Hi Nicolene, that sounds like a particularly extreme reaction - we recommend you visit your doctor as a first port of call before addressing your hair loss as your symptoms will need checking in order to determine the precise cause and if there is any underlying issue or condition. We hope you are feeling better soon!

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