How Does a Brazilian Hair Straightening Treatment Work?

Learn more about the trendy Brazilian hair straightening technique.

Unless we’re sporting frizz intentionally with a style that supports it (like those coveted beach waves), frizz is the enemy. Many of us want to rid ourselves from frizz completely and some of us just want a smoother and looser curly texture. This is when Brazilian hair straightening starts to spark our interest. Should we try it or not? Okay, we know, you’re a bit fed up with poofy and unmanageable hair, so you might just about ready to try anything out at this point. Quick blow-dry, easy styling, no fuss detangling, shiny hair—all sound like great buzzwords, right? Before you take the plunge, read to learn more about what this treatment really is, and how a Brazilian hair treatment works.

Brazilian Hair Treatment Explained

brazilian hair straightening treatment on blonde hair
Straight long blonde hair. Photo credit:

The Brazilian hair straightening treatment, a.k.a. keratin straightening, is a chemical process that enables easy detangling and styling. These straightening treatments close down the hair cuticle sealing the keratin proteins in your hair in order to achieve a smooth and sleek finish. Unlike a thermal reconditioning treatment like Japanese hair straightening, Brazilian straightening treatment is temporary and can be carried out on bleached or dyed hair but not immediately after.

Typically, the treatment lasts around two to four months and doesn’t break down the structure or internal bonds of your hair. If you have curly hair and want to give this treatment a go, you don’t have to worry too much about losing your curl pattern forever. The treatment will just smoothen, soften and loosen up your curls. After five washes your natural hair texture gradually returns. Be warned: These treatments usually contain high amounts of formaldehyde, a chemical fume that threatens health when it’s inhaled. Today, many Brazilian straightening products have reduced the amount of formaldyde significantly to pose the treatment as safe. Keep in mind that it’s still present, as the treatment needs this ingredient in order for the hair to straighten. So when it comes to making your decision, pick your poison wisely!

1. How is the Brazilian straightening treatment done?

After your hair is washed and conditioned, it is then saturated with the straightening solution. For even distribution, the stylist combs the treatment through your hair. This way all of your strands are evenly coated.

The stylist proceeds to blow-dry the hair in sections holding the concentration nozzle down the shaft. The heat from the blowdryer seals the product into the hair, and helps press the cuticles flat in preparation for the flat-ironing process.
In individual sections about a quarter of an inch wide, the hair is then straightened with a flat iron at about 450 degrees Fahrenheit.Yikes! This temperature is needed to properly seal the hair and give it that shiny finish post-blowdry.

2. Post Brazilian treatment hair care

Like almost all things worth having in life, this treatment comes with a hefty set of rules. After the straightening process is performed your hair can’t be washed or styled for 72 hours—and that includes not even putting it up in a ponytail or tucking it behind your ears. Anything you do to alter the style of your hair will leave dents or marks on the surface and will set with that bend. Leave your tresses as is for the next few days. It’s best to sleep on a satin or silk pillowcase as cotton produces friction and can disturb your freshly treated hair as well. To care for your hair post-treatment, use a hair care system to cleanse and maintain the vibrancy and smoothness of your tresses along with keeping frizz at bay.

Brazilian Straightening: What To Expect From The Salon

brazilian hair straightening flat iron hair
Your daily flat iron routine? Consider it done with a Brazilian straightening treatment.

1. Time and Money

Bring some snacks so you don’t get hangry, the Brazilian straightening treatment can take up to an hour and a half to two hours. The longer your hair is, the longer the process will take on your hair. As for the cost it all depends. There are several different lines of Brazilian straightening products that will come a different price points. Check with your salon before booking your treatment, it can cost anywhere from $150 all the way up to $600.

2. Lots of Fussing

The process of getting a Brazilian straightening treatment can be lengthy. Prep yourself for a whole bunch of fussing with your hair. The process starts out with washing the hair to open up the cuticle. Some processes require the hair to be washed two or even three times. Then, the product is applied to your hair. Some systems require applying the Brazilian straightening solution onto dry hair, so your hair would be blowdried before applying the product. The product will process for a few minutes (usually 10 to 30) before it is blowdried again. When the hair is dry it will be flat ironed to set the straight style. Then, the hair is rinsed and conditioned to add moisture back to the hair. The final step is blowdrying your hair one last time.

3. Seriously Straight Hair

After getting your Brazilian straightening treatment you’ll have silky, smooth, and straight hair for months. People love the Brazilian treatment because it makes coarse and frizzy hair super manageable. It will also cut your styling time way down. If you are used to needing to flat iron your hair on a day to day basis, the Brazilian straightening treatment will save you almost all of that time.

4. Brazilian Straightening Treatment Maintenance

Once you finish the treatment, you’ll need to be careful not to get your hair wet or bend it for a day or two. Bending the hair (like putting it in a ponytail, or behind your ears) will put a dent in your newly straightened hair. You’ll also need to wash your hair with a sulfate-free shampoo. These have less detergent and will make your treatment last longer. We love the Nexxus New York Salon Care Color Assure Rebalancing Shampoo and the Nexxus New York Salon Care Color Assure Restoring Conditioner.


Nexxus Color Assure Long Lasting Vibrancy Rebalancing Shampoo


Nexxus Color Assure Long Lasting Vibrancy Restoring Conditioner

Need more information on the Brazilian straightening treatment? Check out a more detailed look at how Brazilian treatment process works.