I’ve always had curly hair. Since I was a teenager I’ve done what anyone with natural curls and ringlets does: adore it and fight against it in turn. I was hair bipolar. At 13 I decided that all I wanted was perfectly straight hair (blonde, if possible) and tried growing it to one heavy length, in the hopes that the weight would hold it straight. Instead, it ended up in four giant ringlets and I looked like Shirley Temple’s frizzy cousin. So when I found out there was a treatment in Doha that might at last remove the frizz from my hair, I was intrigued.
The Brazilian Blowout is basically a conditioning treatment on steroids: it’s not a rebonding or permanent straightening system and, as all the documentation, Googling and stylists assured me, it would not leave my hair pin-straight. What it would do is suck the frizz out of it, relaxing the curl and making it more manageable and willing to be styled. They couldn’t tell me exactly how ‘relaxed’ it would be post-treatment – results vary depending on your hair – but they assured me repeatedly that it would not destroy my curls and, moreover, that I wouldn’t have to wait for it to grow out to be rid of the treatment. It only lasts 12 weeks, gradually fading over time.
The treatment itself takes several hours – it’s one of the longest times I’ve ever spent in a stylist’s chair without emerging with my hair a drastic new colour. Glow American Salon uses a patented Brazilian product – not to be mistaken for cheaper, and often toxic, imitations. First, they wash the hair until it’s squeaky-clean, and comb it straight. Next, they apply the special conditioning treatment, rinse it out, and blow-dry the hair before flat-ironing it perfectly smooth. Then, they immediately wash away their efforts – the flat iron serves to ‘lock in’ the style. When it’s done, my hair is bouncy, smooth and frizz-free – but it’s straight from a salon.
That night, I do everything you’re not supposed to do to curly hair. I ride in a car with the window completely open. I attend a party on a beach, complete with dry, Doha air. I run my fingers through it – repeatedly. And the next morning, it’s still perfect. Normally, my hair would have immediately frizzed and curled back up, but this time it stayed perfectly straight and smooth.
Next came its first at-home wash. As part of the treatment, Glow provides a goodie bag of products: low-sulphate shampoo, special conditioner, a hair masque for use twice a week, shine spray, smoothing crème and styling putty. The first thing I notice is that I’m not using the massive gobs of product I’ve become used to since moving here; typically, I need a handful of conditioner every day, just to get my fingers through my hair.
Now I need a completely human and reasonable amount that actually resembles the dosage recommended on the package. The second thing is that my hair isn’t falling out as much. Anyone who’s showered in Doha has probably had the horrifying experience of coming away with a handful of hair. It’s something to do with the desalinated water and the humidity here, but with this treatment my hair seems happy to stay rooted to my scalp, not clogging up my shower drain.
One of the selling points of the treatment has been that it cuts down on styling time – that is, of course, if you style your hair. For me, a curly girl who’s known since adolescence that touching my hair was no-no number one, it actually adds time to my day. My old routine involved washing, scrunching with product, and air-drying while trying to touch and move it as little as humanly possible. Now I have to master the art of the blow dryer, which also means purchasing and using a brush for the first time in almost a decade (again, to brush curly hair is to leave it looking like an Afro poodle – not a good look on a pale chick from Ontario). Suddenly, I was heat-styling, adding time to ‘do’ my hair, when for years it had required nothing more than a willingness to go to work or school with it damp and let nature take its course.
But, after the first sweaty morning of red-faced struggling with a round brush, I became a total convert. Despite my minimal blow-drying skills, my hair was smooth, shiny and bouncy, curling under at the ends and floating over my shoulders as if someone who knew what they were doing had done it. Best of all, it still looked like ‘my’ hair; it hadn’t been transformed into the body-less locks I so feared (once a big hair lover, always a big hair lover).
I even still had the tiny cow-licked wave at the front that I’d inherited from my grandfather. It was just my hair… only better. Over the next few weeks, as I got better at battling with that evil machine, I got the blow-dry down to a quick 15 minutes, achieving a style it would have taken me almost two hours and several machines (blow dryer and flat iron) to get anywhere near before. As for the hair itself, it felt smoother and healthier. My hair actually had a texture – before, it had just been curly. Now I realised that my hair was actually fine. And it moved! Curly hair moves as one giant entity, but now I could feel each strand sliding against another.
The big test, however, especially for my mother, was whether or not this had stripped the curl from my hair entirely. So, one morning, I went back to my old routine of scrunch and air-dry, just to see what would happen. When my hair was dry the curls were looser than before – and they were frizz-free and softer, without that dry, crackling sound the ends used to make. Success!
So, would I do this again? Despite the hefty price tag, I probably would. The treatment is meant to last almost four weeks, and makes my hair softer, healthier and smoother – which looks more professional and polished than my natural, hippy curls. It’s given me the hair I’ve always said I wanted and, considering how much abuse my post-treatment hair could take, I’m beginning to think the makers of this treatment are wizards (or perhaps rock stars from Mars).
Glow American Salon (4468 9945) offers the Brazilian Blowout for QR1,400-2,100, depending on hair length, including shampoo and deep conditioning masque, or QR1,950-2,950, including the full homecare kit. Glow has two locations, Salwa Road and West Bay, open Tue-Thu 10am-7pm; Fri 11am-8pm; Sat-Sun 10am-7pm; Mon closed. More info at www.glowamericansalon.com