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Tame summer frizz with the Brazilian blowout

'I can't stand this weather," a writer friend complained on a muggy Toronto street corner recently.

"I have six products in my hair right now to keep it from going haywire," she added, clutching strands in her fist for emphasis.

During any typical summer, sunlight and humidity can wreak havoc on hair, causing brittleness, breakage, fading and frizz. But the record-high temperatures and excessive sunshine in many parts of the country this season have made achieving sleek, shiny manes all the more challenging.

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Enter the Brazilian blowout, a protective hair treatment inspired by even hotter climes and now conveniently available in a growing number of Canadian salons.

A temporary straightening process that involves painting the hair with liquid keratin protein before sealing it with a hot iron, the technique is designed to affect the same kind of smooth, glossy locks seen on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Despite its name, though, the process wasn't developed in South America, but comes to Canada via Hollywood.

"Until recently, the Brazilian was one of those celebrity beauty secrets used on the quiet by people like Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry and Rachel McAdams," says hairdresser Justin Rousseau, who offers the three-hour procedure - at a cost of about $400 including labour and product - at Toronto's Brennen Demelo Studios.

"But now that the word is out, everyone seems to be wanting it."

According to Demelo, the owner of the salon and a stylist himself, the keratin used in the process relaxes curls and tames frizz, while the heat purportedly shuts in moisture and maintains shine for up to 12 weeks. "I think the biggest [hair]battle that women face in general is summer heat," Demelo says. "Once the humidity gets at it, the hair gets frizzy and loses its style."

One of Rousseau's clients, Marnie Caron, who has tried all her life to tame her curls, says nothing has worked to that end as well as the Brazilian.

"I no longer have to spend a lot of time blow-drying my hair to make it look straight," says the director of global communications for Estée Lauder Canada. "It also makes my hair look shiny and healthy. I just have to wash it and I'm good to go."

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"Women get it done and can't believe the results," Rousseau adds. "They go from curly to bone straight in just one session and the results last for months."

Beyond controlling curls, the Brazilian can also revive over-processed hair, claims Susie Mancuso, owner of Moda Hair & Esthetics in Edmonton.

"For people with chemically damaged hair, the Brazilian is almost like a miracle serum," she says, adding that she charges between $200 and $300 for the treatment, depending on hair length and texture. "It improves the condition of the hair tremendously, closing the cuticle to leave the hair shaft smooth and soft to the touch."

These days, though, it's the heat and humidity more than any other factors that are driving many women to the procedure, Mancuso says, predicting that the Brazilian will be "a staple in salons for years to come."How do you say "bye bye flyway" in Portuguese?

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About the Author

Deirdre Kelly is a features writer for The Globe and Mail. She is the author of the best-selling Paris Times Eight and Ballerina: Sex, Scandal and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection (Greystone Books). More

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