I Tried It: Brazilian Blowout Zero Plus

My friend Sarah has been blessed by the hair gods. Her long locks air dry to romantic-wave perfection. Her mane doesn’t frizz, even in the stifling Washington, D.C. heat. A “bad hair day” is a concept that’s totally foreign to her. (Yes, if you can’t tell, I’m jealous!)

My hair is the total opposite, so when keratin treatments exploded onto the scene (think brands like Brazilian Blowout and Coppola), it seemed like my hair prayers had finally been answered. I started saving my pennies, anxiously awaiting my appointment. Then, the formaldehyde controversy exploded, and being a hypochondriac, I put my dreams of frizz-free hair on hold. 

Plain and simple, formaldehyde changes the chemistry of your hair. I assumed that meant treatments without methylene glycol, the liquid version of formaldehyde, had to be less than stellar. I couldn’t fathom spending my dollars on something so pricy when the results were “iffy.”

I recently found out that one of the most popular names in keratin, Brazilian Blowout, is touting a “new and improved” version of its formaldehyde-free treatment called Brazilian Blowout Zero Plus. I wasted zero time in booking an appointment.

I’m nothing if not thorough in my research, so I went straight to renowned keratin expert Jordana Lorraine for some pre-appointment Q&A. 

What are the main differences between Brazilian Blowout “Zero” and “Zero Plus”?

Brazilian Blowout Zero premiered in February 2011, to mixed responses. The company listened to feedback from stylists and clients, and released a new and improved version in March 2012.

Zero Plus gives more shine and more frizz control than the first Zero, and is a much more pleasant product to work with. The consistency and texture are more similar to the Original solution, so stylists find it more familiar, and it produces virtually no steam.  

Bonus: the treatment is complete after it is ironed into the hair, making it quicker than the Original or the first Zero. It can be done in as little as an hour, and there is still no downtime--no waiting before you can wash your hair, wear it in a ponytail, work out, etc.

How do I know if “Zero Plus” is even worth it? Will the Original solution make more of an impact?

This is something best discussed with a stylist who can see and analyze your hair and make a recommendation, but these are some good general guidelines:

Brazilian Blowout will reduce curl and bulk by 50-90%, add phenomenal shine, and practically eliminate frizz. It works on any hair type, but will yield milder results on coarse/virgin hair.

Zero Plus will enhance shine and greatly reduce frizz, but it will only affect curl minimally. It will also add volume and body, making it best for fine hair!  Zero Plus also has the added benefit that it does not contain or produce any formaldehyde, meaning it does not need any special ventilation and making it better for extremely sensitive individuals.

Images courtesy of Jordana Lorraine

Is it safe to assume that my salon is already using “Zero Plus”?

Zero Plus is the newest formaldehyde-free formula, but it isn't automatically shipped unless it is ordered by the salon. Ask to see the bottle (above). It should have a turquoise "plus" sign on it next to the O in ZERO.

The 'old' Zero is less convenient and effective. Also, depending on when the salon got it, it could possibly even be past its shelf life. The bottles are so large that if a salon or stylist doesn't do the treatment often, they can sit around for months.

How do I know if my stylist has been properly trained?

There are a few different ways a stylist can become Brazilian Blowout Certified, and not all are equal. In a live class, 20 people or fewer are shown a full treatment up close from start to finish, and have the chance to touch the hair and discuss each step with the instructor.  

In roadshow or trade show training, a large group of people watch a demonstration and receive verbal instruction, though it is less personalized and not everyone may get to ask their questions.  

Brazilian Blowout also offers an online certification, which consists of answering multiple choice questions after watching a video. All of these methods will get a stylist certified with the same credential, so you may want to ask a stylist what their training was like.  

In some salons, one team member gets certified and then trains other staff in the salon.  These other staff are not certified and, no disrespect intended, have been taught by someone who does not work for Brazilian Blowout and may not even have that much experience.

What’s the easiest way to find a list of certified stylists and salons?

Brazilian Blowout offers a listing of certified stylists and salons based on location. Platinum Salons are those which order more than a certain amount of product on a regular basis, indicating that they are performing the service frequently and therefor are more experienced than other local salons.

Once you have found the list of salons near you, you'll want to narrow it down by visiting their website or calling with a few questions.  It is important to remember that receptionists are trained to make appointments, but may not be able to answer technical questions as they are rarely hairdressers, so you may want to schedule a consultation once you get a feel for which salons are the best candidates.  A few good questions to ask when interviewing a stylist are:

Where and when were you trained by Brazilian Blowout?

How often do you perform Brazilian Blowouts?

Which treatment do you think is best for me, and why?

What precautions does the salon take to protect from fumes involved with Brazilian Blowout?

With all of the controversy over formaldehyde, what safety precautions are being taken by salons and stylists?

While Brazilian Blowout does not mandate any special measures be taken to use the product, their Material Safety Data Sheet (legally required to be accessible at any salon using it) does include the following phrases: "Avoid breathing vapor," "local exhaust ventilation is preferred," and "Use in a chemical fume hood when working with large quantities of product and provide adequate ventilation (e.g., local exhaust ventilation, fans)." It also references over-application of product as a factor to increased risk.  This is another reason to make sure you find an experienced professional to preform your service!

Many salons open windows, use fans, and take other minor measures to move air around, however they do not clean the air or expressly remove it from the salon.  In my studio, I had an exhaust placed in the ceiling just above the treatment chairs.  I also make use of units which hover above the client's chair to remove fumes as they are produced, as well as high-productivity air purifiers and special filters for the salon's air conditioning vents. 

Image courtesy of Jordana Lorraine

Other than Brazilian Blowout Zero Plus, which "chemical free" treatments have you found to be the most effective?

Cadiveu Acai Therapy is another formaldehyde-free smoothing treatment that I like and use regularly.  Pure Brazilian Clear is also highly effective at reducing frizz and enhancing shine, and is one of the rare smoothing treatments that is safe while pregnant or nursing. It is important to note that, like Zero Plus, neither of these treatments will be as effective at reducing curl as a full-strength Brazilian Blowout or keratin treatment.

As for me, about 7 weeks ago I finally had my  Brazilian Blowout Zero Plus. Drying my hair still yields the best results, although if I let it air dry I don't look like a crazy person. I still have to use a round brush to pull my hair straight, but it takes 6 minutes to dry as opposed to 15. I haven’t completely given up the flat iron, either. But even when it’s an oven outside, I truly have zero frizz, and to me that’s worth every penny! I won't splurge on year-round treatments, but I'm planning on having it done again next summer. (FYI: I had my Zero Plus done at Dueto Salon in NYC. Ask for Jessica!)

Originally from New York, Jordana Lorraine came to Santa Monica, CA, in 1994 to study at Vidal Sassoon. Advanced training from Sassoon, Schwarzkopf, and Wella is put to use in the frequent workshops she teaches, and on projects such as photo shoots, celebrity work, weddings and fashion shows around the world.  Jordana was recently credited with writing the “BRAZILIAN BIBLE,” a guide to different keratin treatments, and was voted the “Best Brazilian Blowout in LA.”

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