Dr Oz: Brazilian Blowout, Relaxers & Hair Straighteners: What’s Safe?


Dr Oz did a segment called “Hair Straighteners: What’s Safe & What’s Not” where he spoke about three common techniques that women use to straighten their hair – Flat Irons, Relaxers and the Brazilian Blowout.  Are the ways in which you straighten your hair safe?  Would you be willing to wear a gas mask or risk a nose bleed in exchange for beauty – or straight hair?  Doctor Oz was joined by Cheryl Kramer Kaye, Beauty Director of Redbook Magazine, to explain the dangers of these popular Hair Straightening Methods.

Dr Oz: Brazilian Blowout DangersDr Oz Hair Straighteners

Dr Oz said that Brazilian Blowout treatments can cost $500 and are one of the hottest trends in hair straightening.  Famous stars like Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Lindsay Lohan, Jennifer Lopez, Nicole Richie, and Halle Berry have had Brazilian Blowout treatments. However, State officials in California, Connecticut, and Oregon have become concerned about unexplained nosebleeds and breathing problems in women after getting a Brazilian Blowout.  Tests were performed on this hot product and found that it contained 10% Formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen and allergen.

Dr Oz: Formaldehyde in Brazilian Blowout

Mark Garrison, a hair salon owner, used to be a believer in the Brazilian Blowout, but now he has banned it from his salon after reading that the Formaldehyde levels came in above OHSA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) levels.  The maker of the Brazilian Blowout products says that their products do not use Formaldehyde and that the claims are nonsense.  Mark Garisson now uses a different product with only trace amounts of Formaldehyde, and he has added extra ventilation to his salon, as well as now requiring both the client and stylist to wear gas masks when doing the Hair Straightening Treatments.

Dr Oz: Keratin Treatments vs. Brazilian Blowout

Dr Oz asked Cheryl Kramer Kaye about Keratin Treatments, because most of them also contain low levels of Formaldehyde.  Cheryl said that the levels in Keratin Treatments are low and generally not considered harmful.  Brazilian Blowout claims to use no Formaldehyde, even though testing shows that this is not true and that the levels are much higher than what the government considers to be safe levels.  If you still intend on having a Brazilian Blowout, even knowing all of this, make sure the salon is properly ventilated – an open window or a fan is not enough.  Frankly, even if you are not getting a Brazilian Blowout, if your salon offers the treatment then you should make sure there is good ventilation so that you are not effected by someone else’s toxic treatment during your next visit to the salon.

Dr Oz: How Brazilian Blowout Works

Dr Oz showed a demonstration of how Brazilian Blowout and hair straighteners work.  There is a protein that wraps around each piece of hair that holds everything together.  The protein is held together by Sulfide Bonds.  If you apply a chemical to your hair that cuts these Sulfide Bonds, then your hair strand is released and straightens out.  So you are left with beautiful straight hair.

Dr Oz: Relaxers – DIY Hair Straightening

Dr Oz moved on to DIY Techniques for Hair Straightening, like Relaxers.  Cheryl Kramer Kaye said that Hair Relaxers can be dangerous.  They are generally marketed to African American women and are sold over-the-counter at drugstores.  The active ingredient in most Drugstore Relaxers is Sodium Hydroxide, also know as Lye, and also the active ingredient in Drain Cleaners.  There are some No-Lye Relaxers, but these are similarly bad for you.  One marketing technique that companies have been using is to say their product is organic and uses natural ingredients, but Dr Oz says this makes him very mad because there is no way to produce Lye that is organic.

Dr Oz: Are Relaxers Safe?

Dr Oz did a demonstration to show how dangerous Relaxers can be.  He poured the liquid found in the product onto a piece of paper, and then he added powder which is like Lye, and you could see the chemicals burning right through the paper.  The paper represents your scalp and the damage that can be done if not used correctly.  It is very dangerous to leave relaxers on for too long.  Cheryl said that if you are going to use Relaxers, follow the directions very carefully and do not use them more than once every 8 weeks.  Use a protective coating on your scalp and wait a couple of days to shower to help build-up natural oils in your scalp.  The best bet though is to go to a salon and have it done professionally.

Dr Oz: Hair Straighteners & Flat Irons

Dr Oz’s last product was Hair Straighteners (or Flat Irons), where the biggest risk is that you could fry your hair.  Cheryl Kaye said that you should not use a blow dryer or a Flat Iron more than 2-3 times a week.  Also, look for a Hair Straightening Iron that has ceramic coated plates because it will distribute heat more evenly.  And look for a Flat Iron that has a digital thermometer or a dial thermometer because you do not need 450 degrees to straighten most hair.  350 degrees should work for most women’s normal hair and, if you have fine hair, do not go over 300 degrees.


  1. sarah says

    this article is total bs and is targeting bb…… the testing that was originally done wasnt done to the standards of a water soluble product which bb is. AND bb is NOT a keratin treatment—

  2. jacklynn says

    This information is wrong. I am a hair stylist for over ten years and I am certified for the Brazilian Blowout. having done over 60!!! This product is life changing! even for myself! ALL the tests that are being run on the product are not being run in the manner in which its used! It has chemicals in it, it has to, to do what it does for that length of time BUT AND A BIG BUT it is not full of Formaldehyde! As a stylist if a level of 10% or more as DR OZ claims the hair would fall out and there would be serious damage to the scalp! Forget the \long term\ effects it would be immediate. please do proper research and education before ruining a good product!

  3. Beth says

    The previous 2 comments are HILARIOUS!!!!! I am a stylist/salon owner who actually researches the products I use and their ingredients. What these 2 are saying are direct quotes from the company and have no supporting sources. Of course the company wants you to think its safe, they are making a fortune! And stylists want to believe them because they care more about making money than their clients, their own, and their co-workers health. Just ask google, people’s hair is falling out and BB does advertise as a keratin treatment right on their own website! I have tested and researched many of these treatments (including BB) and experienced many symptoms, burning eyes, headaches,etc. If I offered these treatments, I could profit (that’s pocketed after costs) at least $150 per hour per stylist performing them, but I refuse to do them in my salon and am sick of these companies lying to consumers and stylists! Go Dr. Oz! Thanks for looking out for us!

  4. Meno says

    comment no. 3 : thanks for saying the truth and exposing those who just care about money
    comment no. 1&2 : you should be ashamed of yourselves trying to fool people and steal their money
    thanks for this great article Dr. Oz

  5. becca says

    one of my close friends got a bb and she hated it. it left her hair lifeless. she couldnt even put a slight curl to it. she said it was the worst thing to happen to her hair. what dr. oz says has truth behing it. he studies what he says before he says it. so he knows what he is talking about. i havent been a stylist for long but i refuse to do bb’s. you have to research the product your using thoroughly and if there is even a maybe that it could be harmful then it shouldnt be done. that possibility could do alot of damage.

  6. Anita says

    THANK YOU DR OZ! Many of the salons you go to just want your money. I had to stop going to a salon because I went natural. All the stylist were pushing me to get a keratin treatment which cost $400. They said they were having a special and it would cost me $300. Wow how much profit to you make from that? Black salon stylist need to do a better job of taking care of our hair and not just looking at the mighty dollar. STYLIST DO YOUR RESEARCH ON HOW TO TAKE CARE OF NATURAL HAIR! (YOU CAN START WITH GOOGLE) I DID. USE NATURAL PRODUCTS WITHOUT SULFATES AND CHEMICALS.

  7. KylieFab says

    I’m african american (texturized/semi-relaxed hair) and I get my hair straightened in a salon about every 12 weeks. Once I wash my hair I go back to the natural looks because straightening my hair on my own has never turned out right…not nearly as nice as when I leave the salon.

    Well, with Shielo’s Antioxidant Leave in Protectant I was TRULY amazed!! Normally my hair would straighten but the ends would be dry and stiff and I’d end up with a frizzy mess after straightening. With the Shielo Antioxidant protectant it is silky smooth, light-weight and bouncy and NO greasy film! I can wear my shades on my head with out a greasy mess, lol. I blow dry my hair and part in 4 sections. I then apply a dime-sized amount to each section…so as other have said, a little goes a long ways! I’ve gotten SO many compliments!

  8. Tomekina Ofa says

    This article has really helped and the comment that Number 3 Beth is perfect… I’m a male with long hair and was thinking of doing something different … well now I read the article there will be nothing but just braids.. Thanks.

  9. HattieTottie says

    I am African American and I used to straighten my hair with a relaxer. I used the Shielo Antioxidant Leave In Protector after washing and conditioning and it helps keep the moisture in my hair. After using a blowdryer to straighten, it comes out soft and straight.
    Now I am natural and still use the Shielo Antioxidant Protectant on my curls. They are soft after adding it to my wet hair and it retains the curls and coils I have.

  10. Melissa says

    That’s why I’m particularly fond of Cocoa Keratin System, it’s a Brazilian keratin treatment that comes with the pre-treatment shampoo, smoothing treatment and daily shampoo and conditioner. I like it because the treatment lasts up to 5 months and its very safe on my hair, giving it nutrients, moisture and smoothing it down. The protein and argan oil help immensely and strengthen my hair while making it super shiny. I recommend it 🙂

  11. Cole says

    The first two comments are straight from the company. I am a regular person normal hair. I had the coppola keratin straightner done. Within 3 weeks I had major hair loss. I had chemical reaction on my scalp which looked like big red bumps and hurt. That was the best part. It got worse. Within 6 months my hair loss was at about 60%. I was 37 and balding. The hair fell out through out the day. Showers made me sick to see the hair left in my hands. How do I know what it was from my dr did a scalp biopsy. That was painful but at least we knew what happened. At 9 mths I had about 80% gone but the good news a llittle growth but so thin. I am now at one year and 4 mths and my hair seems to cycle with fall out. I keep my hair short. Dr said because of the damage to the scalp there is no telling when it will stop. Sad I am in a fall out cycle again. So those who think they are safe take warning it could happen to you. Coppola states they are formaldehyde free. Wrong they use aldehyde. When heat is applied it tums to formaldehyde.

  12. visitor says

    Hi. I’m thankful for Dr. Oz article. I was really desperate to relax my curly hair. it’s causing me too much pain. I can’t style it or manage it at all. It’s long, damaged, and frizzy. so i thought about keratin and hair relaxers, but after reading this article I’m hesitatnt to try any. I guess am gonna have to deal with it for the sake of my sculp’s health.

  13. visitor#2 says

    Visitor up above. For your curls look for a product called diva curl. Or Ouidad. Both for curly hair and both the best thing thats happened for curls. No chemical treatment. And also youtube their techniques for controlling curls. Good luck.

  14. says

    Hi,I love the brazilian blowout.Wear it on my hair and it has been life changing.
    Nail polish remover is worse for you than Brazilian Blowout is. You can’t use any chemical in a small space with bad ventilation.If you do it right there is no issue.You just need to know what you are doing.I am a stylist and the health of myself and my clients is important to me.This has been so great for my hair ,its healthy ,shiny,beautiful hair.I even gave my daughter one. Nail polish has some very caustic things in it . This is less dangerous than polishing nails in my research

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