brazillian blow out
Image: Kelsey Dake

The Iron-On: Brazilian Blowouts

OUR SOURCES SAY
Salon owner Agnes Miggins takes Brazilian-style blowouts very seriously. At her Salon Rules (3230 NE 45th St, Laurelhurst, 206-527-8537; mysalonrules.net), one- to two-hour straightening treatments start at $225; for that, hair cuticles benefit from an expertly applied gloss-inducing, frizz-defying nutrient complex. Is there any formaldehyde? Miggins says no way, but beware: This is the most hotly debated flattening procedure out there. International investigations continue to find dangerous levels of the toxin in many products, so do your research.

HOW IT WORKS
Hair is thoroughly washed up to three times and towel dried until just barely damp. A formula that includes vegetable and plant extracts, acai berry, and methylene glycol is painted on with a color brush. Hair is blown completely dry and then flatironed in small sections at very high heats. After it cools, hair is rinsed and then conditioned to counter-act the dehydrating effects of the methylene glycol. One last blowout seals the deal.

PLAN AHEAD
Brazilian blowouts allow three to five months of smooth living.

The Reverse Perm: Japanese Straightening

japanese straightening
Image: Kelsey Dake

OUR SOURCES SAY
Todd Lucas at Zero Zero Salon (421 E Pine St, Capitol Hill, 206-568-3996; zerozerohair.com) gave us the scoop on this permanent decurling technique. He charges $100 an hour for a four- or five-hour hair adventure that utilizes ideas pioneered in Japan in the ’90s.

HOW IT WORKS
Locks are blown dry, flatironed, and then coated with a cream-based thioglycolate relaxer that effectively squashes each strand’s natural proclivity to wave or curl. After hair is rinsed, blown dry, and flatironed again, a neutralizing agent restores proteins and balances pH levels. Most Japanese treatments are formaldehyde-free. Make sure to ask if the product you’re considering is.

PLAN AHEAD
For about three days following the treatment, hair shouldn’t be washed, braided, or pinned up in any way—and exercise is out of the question. Curls can’t be popped back in anytime soon, either. Once those relaxers break the bonds that create waves and curls, they’re broken. And they’ll stay broken until new hair grows in.

NEED NOT APPLY
This isn’t the best option for heavily processed, colored, or highlighted hair, nor for dense, tight curls.

Relaxer Factor: Hydroxide Treatments

hydroxide treatment illo
Image: Kelsey Dake

OUR SOURCES SAY
Jessica Henley, co-owner of Vasuda Salon (12317 15th Ave NE, Pinehurst, 206-525-0870; vasudasalon.com), calls in relaxing treatments when clients want to loosen thick curls and manage kinky waves. The chemical compound in these creamy products—Vasuda uses Italian brand Davines—breaks down curl-creating bonds in the hair. The process takes between two and three hours, and costs between $70 and $152.

HOW IT WORKS
Vasuda stylists start by applying a protective base to the scalp and hair. Decurling cream gets painted on and combed through; the longer the mixture’s left on, the less curl remains. After 15 to 40 minutes, it’s washed away. Neutralizing shampoo and a deep conditioning treatment follow.

PLAN AHEAD
Relaxed tresses stay smooth until new hair grows in; many clients get their roots touched up every six or eight weeks. During this time, only shampoos with naturally occurring oils should be used, and hair shouldn’t be washed too frequently.