Last Saturday morning it was a typical New York summer day–ninety degrees and a cloying 50% humidity. Yet my hair, naturally wavy and prone to frizz, remained perfectly coiffed as I walked down Bedford Avenue to have brunch with a friend. I tend to identify as low-maintenance when it comes to beauty, as a former athlete who is frequently practicing hot yoga or heading out on a run, my hair is a relatively low priority. So, skeptical though I was about a beauty salon’s cure-all summer solution, my Brazilian Blowout at Self Salon that day won me over completely.

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Back in June we highlighted five of the best emerging salons in Brooklyn, and today we’re offering a closer look at Self Salon in Williamsburg. That closer look also involves a demystification of the Brazilian Blowout, a service offered on almost every single salon service menu that remains puzzling to most customers. The question I got when telling my friends about my upcoming story on Self Salon was the same every time: “What is a Brazilian Blowout anyway?” Was it Keratin? Protein? Something else? Just a really great blowout that magically lasted forever? None of us knew, including me. But I wanted to find out.

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Self Salon is run by Maria Barca, a native New Yorker who first opened up the business in Williamsburg over a decade ago, in 2004. Currently, Self has two locations–one in Bushwick and one in Williamsburg–and offers cuts, color, wedding styling, and a New York summer hair rescue, the Brazilian Blowout. After previously experiencing a spectacular cut at the hands of Barca, and all over color processing from their specialist Anya Krotova, I was ready to entrust my hair to another Self stylist, Fetija Mamudoska, who is the Brazilian Blowout expert at the salon. She gave us a step by step guide on how exactly the process works, from the before all the way to the after.
Pre Brazilian Blowout


Usually I blow dry my bangs, but in the heat they quickly curve/curl on their own. In the summer, I absolutely can’t stand to run the blow dryer for the 20-30 minutes it takes to get my hair fully dry–that’s not even taking into account the time I’ll have to spend straightening it after–so I let it air dry.

step 2

(A shot of the styling tools used to do a Brazilian Blowout)
Step One: Clarifying shampoo that removes silicones, sulfates and other chemicals found in hair products that may have built up on the hair follicle.


This makes sure the hair follicle is clean and ready to take the Brazilian Blowout treatment as easily as possible.
Step Two: Applying the chemical to damp hair in little sections, then brushing it throughout the whole head.

Brazilian Blowout

The company that makes the chemical used in the process originated in Brazil, hence the name, and though plenty of companies make a similar product and offer similar services, Self uses products from the Brazilian Blowout brand itself.


“It’s not keratin, although both of these treatments include chemicals,” Mamudoska explains. “The main difference between the two treatments is that Keratin treatment smoothes hair by putting protein into it, but the Brazilian Blowout formula is not a protein-based smoother. Instead, it uses the chemical formaldehyde which is activated by flat-ironing the hair with 400 degree heat later in the process.
Step Three: Blow drying the hair so it can be flat-ironed, which activates the straightening chemical.

wet hair
step 3

It would be impossible to flat-iron the hair wet, so a quick dry is necessary first. Of course, having someone else blow dry your hair is always fun, too.
Step Four: Flat-ironing the hair at exactly 400 degrees. This is basically the most important step in the process, as it is what actually activates the straightening agent.


This is where it’s important to have a professional on the other end of the flat iron–Mamudoska knows not to leave the iron on for too long as that would burn or damage the hair. Just one quick, strong pass through each strand activates the Brazilian Blowout formula.

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final hair

Step Five: A final shampooing removes any excess chemical from the hair and ensure everything sets correctly.


Self also includes a head and neck massage at this step–reason enough to sign up for the procedure in my opinion.
Step Six: Style hair normally as desired, the chemical doesn’t change the structure or flexibility of the hair at all, simply makes it much easier to dry and removes all frizz.


(My expression here is utter shock that my hair is so smooth right after another blow dry in 90 degree heat.)
After Brazilian Blowout


The blowout is expected to last 10-12 weeks with proper care. If you are pregnant or nursing you should not get a Brazilian Blowout. It’s also important to avoid going in the ocean or a pool, because the salt and chlorine can strip out the straightening chemicals. It’s been almost a week and my hair remains straight and smooth, even if I air dry it, no frizz or curl pops up like it normally does. Blow-drying only takes me about 5 minutes and I don’t have to straighten my hair at all. For people with curly or frizzy hair, I can’t recommend this process more, especially during summer. A Brazilian Blowout generally runs about $300, but if you break that down into $100 a month to avoid having frizzy hair all summer, the peace of mind can certainly be worth the price point.
All photos by Megan Graham, who you can also follow on Instagram here.


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