Review: The Permanent Blow Dry - everything you need to know

I had a look through my Google Analytics report today, and the most new visitors to my site find me through questions about permanent or Brazilian blow dries. Regular readers will know that I am a veteran of this procedure, and it's absolutely revolutionised the way I approach my hair care routine. Over the past 12 months, my hair has grown stronger, longer and healthier, and the process has allowed me to cut down to 3 blow dries a week and eliminate the use of straigteners altogether. No mean feat for someone with naturally dry hair who's been heat and colour treating it for 13 years.

So, here are my top permanent/Brazilian blow dry tips - what to ask at the salon, what to expect, and how to care for it.

1. A permanent or Brazilian blow dry involves the application of a keratin solution to hair to relax waves and ease frizz. It won't give a poker straight finish to naturally wavy hair (that's Yuko territory), but it will make your hair much more manageable, and if you do heat straighten it, it allows you to create an incredibly sleek finish. Most importantly, it's not damaging and actually moisturises the hair, making it a win all round. The keratin treatment originated in Brazil, and goes under many names including the Brazilian, permanent and ever-lasting blow dry to name but a few. Despite the names of the latter two, it's neither permanent nor ever lasting (see point 5) and unlike other straightening treatments, causes no damage to the hair.

2. The process take between 1hr-2hr, depending on how much hair you have. Hair is shampooed, and left to sit with shampoo on for 5-10 mins. It's then rinsed, towel dried, and the keratin solution is painted onto the hair and combed through. Hair is then roughly blow dried and straightened with irons in small sections to ensure that every strand is covered. The heat of the straighteners activates and seals the solution into the hair, making it an essential part of the process.

3. If you have lots of split ends, the treatment won't be absorbed as well in those parts of the hair, so it's best to have the ends cut off before you have your treatment. You'll be spending a lot, so your hair should look great: don't hold on to damaged lengths! The trim doesn't need to happen at the same time, so if your usual salon doesn't offer the treatment, go for a trim and then book in for your blow dry.

4. The process isn't cheap. Most salons offer the treatment from £150, but for shoulder length hair, you're looking at closer to £200, with the cost rising for longer hair. Many salons cap the cost at around £250, but you should go in for a consultation to check. Websites like wahanda.com occasionally have a good deal, so keep your eyes open. My last blow dry was a Wahanda deal and came in at a lovely £89. If you're still wincing at the cost, I make an attempt to justify it at point 6!

5. With appropriate care, the blow dry lasts for around 3 months and unlike other hair treatments, it fades, rather than grows out, so you aren't left with annoying frizzy roots: hurrah! I'll come onto what constitutes 'appropriate care' in points 12 and 13.

6. Before you book, think about whether this treatment is right for you. If you step out of the shower and your hair dries into sleek, straight heavenliness, consider me deeply envious and go and spend your £200 on a nice new pair of shoes and a couple of cocktails instead. If you spend 30+ minutes blow drying your hair every other day, straighten your hair most days, are sporting heat-related damage, or if you try and find excuses to stay in during times of humidity or rain, then get yourself booked in. I consider this treatment to be an investment as it saves me several hours a week that used to be spent styling, it's left my hair in better condition, and it's stopped me from running madly to the salon to buy every product that promises miracles and never delivers! It's definitely not for everyone, but if you can afford it and spend a lot of effort on your hair, it's worth a try. Before I started having this treatment, I would spend about £60 a month on my Kerastase supplies, and still spend at least 30 minutes every other day styling. Over three months, that takes us to £180 spent and a whopping 56 hours (yes, over TWO DAYS) styling. Think about your time and financial investments, and it may get easier to see how this treatment is good value - that is, if you're as crazy as me to spend all that time and money!!

7. Always, ALWAYS go to the salon for a consultation before having the treatment. Not only will this allow them to assess whether you have the right hair for the treatment (Daniel Hersheson, for example, recommend their treatment for people with hair that's naturally quite difficult to manage, whereas other salons offer it for any hair type), but you can also get a sense as to whether this is a salon you're happy with. If you feel under pressure, or that it's not the right environment, this allows you to take your custom somewhere else.

8. Many salons recommend that you should wait a week after colouring your hair before having a permanent or Brazilian blow dry, so bear this in mind when booking your appointment.

9. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate: is it ok? There's some debate on this issue, so hear me out. My first three blow dries were with Daniel Hersheson, whose house range is Kerastase, and many of you will know it's not sulphate free. Hersheson make no recommendation about using SLS-free products, and when I told my hairdresser at Trevor Sorbie, she nearly choked. The consensus from other hairdressers is that an SLS-free shampoo is the only way to care for your blow dry, and I have used them religiously after my first faded prematurely (thanks Kerastase!) Trevor Sorbie recommend Pureology (I am a big fan of the Hydrate range) but a cheaper alternative is Liz Earle haircare which is also excellent. See the bottom of the page for links to SLS-free shampoo reviews.

10. Following on from this, when you go to the salon, check what their house range is, and if it's not SLS-free, don't be swayed by the heavy marketing. I will still go back to Daniel Hersheson, but I won't be buying anything by Kerastase. Remember, when they wash your hair pre-treatment, it doesn't matter so much as the SLS is not coming into contact with the keratin solution. It's just your home routine that counts.

11. The longer the shampoo is left on when your it's washed at the salon, the better the keratin solution is able to penetrate the hair shaft and therefore, the better the treatment works. Shampooing opens the cuticles on each strand of hair, so a good salon will leave the shampoo for 5-10 minutes. Ask them about this when you go in, and thank you to Charlotte at Fordham Soho for this tip!

12. In the words of Elle in Legally Blonde, "the rules of haircare are simple and finite" and this applies very much to your blow dry. You will get some instructions at the salon, and you should ignore them at your peril. In the first 3 days following the treatment, do not tie or pin your hair back, or wear anything that could leave a wave in your hair (headbands etc), try not to touch it, don't wash it or get it wet. If you leave the house without an umbrella, no matter how late it makes you for work, go back and get one. The thought of getting caught in a rain shower with nothing more than a newspaper for protection is a really crappy way to lose £200! I also avoid wearing lip gloss as unexpected gusts of wind have a habit of planting your gorgeous hair right on top of your goopy lips, which happened to me 10 minutes after my first blow dry, and caused me to scream loudly during lunch hour on Conduit Street. And yes, everyone turned around and clearly thought I was mental (but who cares? My hair looked hot!) Sweatiness is out too, so you'll be happy to hear you get a 3 day holiday from the gym: another reason to get a blow dry!

13. Invest in a shower cap for bathing, and have luke warm baths so there's no chance of the steam messing with your tresses. If, like me, you're used to hour long soaks reading a stack of fashion mags, bathing becomes depressingly functional at this time!

14. If in the first 3 days you get a kink in your hair, don't panic. Just run over it with a straightening iron until it's flat, leave it to cool and get on with your day. No biggy.

15. After 3 days, you can wash your hair and if you're like me, you'll be straight in the shower on the strike of 72 hours. Use your SLS-free shampoo, conditioner and your usual styling products (my hairdresser assures me the only rule is to have an SLS-free shampoo and that you can keep all your normal styling products) and then properly blow dry your hair. It will look like it does after a trip to the salon. Stand in front of the mirror swishing, run to family, friend and loved ones and ask if they can believe that you've upscaled from tumbleweed barnet to hair that Jennifer Aniston would be jealous of, and then go jump in a waterfall, leap around in a field, and pretend your in your own hair commercial.

16. Enjoy the next 3 months!!

** If you liked this post, please subscribe via Google Friend Connect at the top of the page :) **

For more information on SLS-free shampoos I've reviewed, click the links below:

Liz Earle
Tara Smith
Macadamia Natural Oils

Image courtesy of Harper's Bazaar.


  1. Really interesting post you go into so much detail..i have tried to use google analytics but to no avail (i have a mac) any pointers would be very helpful..many thanks xx


  2. I'm so tempted to get this done, after reading your post and Modesty Brown's one. My hair definitely falls into the camp of mad and untameable. It's interesting to quantify the hours you spent doing your hair before the treatment. I probably spend about the same and use loads of products as well, so I'm definitely thinking this will give me a lot of time back. Thanks for your very useful post! x

  3. Sounds fascinating! I'll have to check how available this is here in the states, particularly in my mid-sized midwest city. You're right, it does seem pricey, but if it saves on products and time, it could be well worth it. Thanks for sharing and taking the time to go into details.

  4. @BristolBeautyBlog It's funny: I hadn't even thought about how much time I actually spent styling my hair until I sat down and wrote this post, and I couldn't believe it! Plus it's a really helpful way of justifying the outlay!

    @Cindy Hmm, not sure how available it is in the US, but you must be able to get it somewhere! You'll have to let me know if you find a salon and how the treatment goes if you get it done :)

    @Pinkhair I've only just worked out how to use it and it's so helpful. I read the following tutorial and then just had a play around with the various reports: hope it helps! http://www.mahalo.com/how-to-use-google-analytics-for-beginners

  5. Thanx for posting this...I have been debating on whether or not this would be right for me but I am soo excited and def will be doing this! :)


  6. @Life Style Loves Oh that's great news! I'm so pleased it's helped you make the decision :) You'll have to let me know how it goes if you get it done! x

  7. I'm having mine done soon. Got an offer via kgbdeals for £49 - bargain! Looking forward to less time spent faffing about with straighteners in the morning.

  8. I have curly hair. I got mine done on Friday, washed it today Monday. Admittedly I didn't blow dry it after washing it - thought I'd let it dry naturally, like I would normally and... well, it looks no different to before the treatment. I wasn't expecting poker straight hair, but not was I expecting to look the same as before! I did a lot of research, picked a good salon and made sure they used a good product, but there you go. I'm going to experiment - try to blow dry it myself and see if it's easier to straighten with GHDs etc.. but it certainly had no effect on taming the curls and actually, I look a bit more frizzy than normal!

  9. Oh no! Where did you have it done? If it's no better than before you should definitely go back to the salon. Are you using a sulphate free shampoo? xx

  10. Thanks for your detailed pointers. But I'm like Jolers I have been considering having this done for a while and a few weeks ago Groupon had an offer on £49 instead of £200. I jumped at the offer. I have typical red hair which is course and frizzy. Anyway, I had this done two weeks ago and waited the four days and washed it with the hairdressers recommended sulphate free shampoo and was hoping that it would be less frizzy and would have to run the straighteners over it to give it a bit of gloss. Much to my horror my hair looks worse and I have to straighten my hair daily. I'm so disappointed. I feel very much like you I would pay anything as long as my hair looks right. I noticed that the hairdresser was applying the solution on parts of the section and not the whole section and then combing it through. Is this right? I know there is different named products but which one do you recommend? Am I able to buy the solution myself as my niece is a trained hairdresser (taking time out to have her baby) and know that she could do it? I think the one the hairdresser used on my hair was Brazillian??
    Look forward to you comments!

  11. Jolerrs -the same thing happened to me. I have since been told that the brazilian blow dry only works well with people who still dry their hair straightish -as it makes the actual drying process easier. I've got curly, frizzy hair and just wanted it to look frizz-free, rather than poker straight and so I have to leave it to dry naturally and therefore it didn't work.

  12. Hi Rachel! It was done at Seanhanna salon in Bristol. Over a week on and I'm a bit happier. The salon told me it wasn't a straightener and would just relax the curl, which I think it has. My hair is definitely more glossy, softer and easier to straighten now. I think it was a case of my expectations being too high, and letting the hair dry naturally! I am planning to get it done again in 3 months or so because my hair isn't that wild crows nest it was before, and that makes all the difference! I'm hoping it has a culminative effect (forever the optimist) :o) x

  13. Hi all - sad to hear there have been some bad experiences! I have mine done at Trevor Sorbie and they use KeraStraight. I'm not sure if you can buy it, but I would have no hesitation in recommending them.

    Maria, they should apply the solution all over your hair. Any bits they miss won't be treated so it will be the same as before. I have to say, I bought a Wahanda deal for Fordham in Soho. The treatment was out of my hair in six weeks: very disappointed! Given that I'd paid less, I didn't mind so much, but it taught me to stick with what I know! I'd encourage you all to try again, though. It's so worth it!

  14. Hi Rachel,

    Really need your advice. I have naturally curly hair with the back and ends being quite frizzy at times. I am really tempted to have the blow dry however i really want to know if your absolutley certain its not permanent and that my hair will revert back to its original state as i quite like my hair sometimes?

    PLease please send me a comment, i have booked an appointment for Wed at Daniel Hersheson

  15. Hi Sheetal

    So sorry for the delayed reply. How did your consultation go? Your hair will revert back to its natural state but it takes about 3 months for the treatment to fade out completely. What's great is that it doesn't completely remove all of the movement from your hair - you don't end up with poker straight locks, just a sleeker version of what you have.

    Hope that helps. xx

  16. Well, I had another treatment done (Global Keratin) in another salon and it was a much better treatment - my hairdresser in the first salon told me recently that the product they used on me came from the states and although it worked really well over there, they hadn't had good results with it in the UK, and infact I was the last person they did the treatment on! I am annoyed that they knew this but didn't tell me after my treatment; I didn't know what to expect so thought my slightly softer shiny curls was all the effect I should expect. However I know better now! I'm going to find out the name of that product and I'll post it up! Overall, it's the best treatment - I feel like a different woman!

  17. Hi Rachel,

    THANK you for replying, I know this is a really late reply however I didn't get a notification that you replied! Anyway I still haven't had it done ( keep chickening out) but after reading your review for the millionth time I am determined to go through with it. As long as it's not permanent I will be ok with it. Love my curls but want to loose the frizz.

    Will let you know how I go!


  18. Yes, definitely let me know! Have you tried Frizz Ease for your curls? It may be worth doing that before you opt for the blow dry, as if you want to keep your curls, the Brazilian blow dry may not be the right option for you. Frizz Ease works *amazingly* well, and John Freida have products especially for curly hair.

    1. Have tried most products although did try frizz ease some time ago so may need to try again... Also may not have used enough etc. I will give it another go then and I may work!

      Will let you know how u get on thanks :)

  19. Hi,

    Thanks so much for your post - where did you have your Brazilian blow dry?

    I am really trying to find THE best place, price is not an issue.

    Please let me know.


    1. Hi Francy

      My favourite place for the treatment is Daniel Hersheson on Conduit St in London. They charge based on the length of your hair and if memory serves, it starts at about £220. You can't wash your hair for three days after but this, in my experience, gives by far the best results.

      Let me know how you get on!


  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. I'm curious - on the KeraStraight website it says the treatment is/can be washed out same day. So I'm wondering why you leave yours in for 3 days?? I liked your write-up a lot and actually I thought it sounded just like the product I use and love, NovMax, except then you mentioned the 3 day leave-in, which I wouldn't be able to bear, and that you have to use SLS-free products which is not necessary with NovMax.

  22. Sorry, new at this and look like I managed to delete my own comment!

    I'm curious as to why you leave your KeraStraight treatment on 3 days since on their website it says it is/can be washed out same day?? I looked into the KS treatments further because your description sounded so much like the one I use and love, NovMax, until you said 3 day leave-in and must use SLS-free products - neither of which are necessary with NovMax and the results are brilliant!

    I have semi-afro, very thick, long, curly hair and I get a curl softening effect (great because I still love my curls) and can straighten it fully in a fraction of the time previous and with totally sleek results. On other hair it gives shiny straight results too because I use it on clients too. But in theory the KS sounds great too.


  23. I absoultely loved this article you have deffo swayed me to get one!

  24. Helpful article! I really liked this to know more about the hair care tips.

  25. I had a Nanokeratin Brazilian blow dry at Sean Hanna. I couldn't wash it or have a shower for 72 hours (no steam), but there was no issue tying it up or putting hair behind my ears. I have long thick hair but not curly and wanted the treatment to cut down on drying time. I washed it and took 15 mins effortlessly blow drying it into shape. I put a woolly hat on and went and played golf. Took the hat off and it was if I'd just finished blow drying. Then I pinned it up and had a shower. Unpinned it and it looked perfect. I'm always sceptical about these things but I'm truly astonished. Long may this last!

  26. I had a Nanokeratin Brazilian blow dry at Sean Hanna. For 72 hours I wasn't allowed a shower (no steam) but no problem with tying hair or putting behind ears. I have long thick hair but not curly and wanted it to cut down on drying time. Washed it and spent 15 mins effortlessly blow drying it into shape. Put a woolly hat on and played golf. Took it off and looked like I'd just blow dryed it! Pinned it up and had a shower and when I took it down it was again as if I'd just finished blow drying. I'm very sceptical about these things but I'm truly astonished. Long may this last!

  27. Hi Rachel - great post, I really found it very interesting!
    I had the permament blowdry at Daniel Hershesons - Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge yesterday for the 3rd time since July 2014 - I truly could not recommend it more! The results are always great, sleek, shiny, manageable hair that will look fantastic for the next 4 months. It costs £220 but in my eyes it is so worth it as it cuts out all the time & damage that I used to do in blowdrying/ straightening it every day.
    I recommend the new anti- sulphate kerastese shampoo which I have been using since last July & it really eliminates any potential frizz in months 2-4 & helps to make the treatment last in the hair longer.
    My hair is naturally very fine & frizzy but I am always advised that I can wash it after 2 days which is ok.
    I am off to watch the London Marathon today on Day 2 of the treatment - its raining �� #permamentblowdryproblems
    Good luck everybody! :)

    1. Hi Susanna! Hope your hair survived Marathon watching :) I tend to lock myself away in the house to make sure the moisture doesn't get me! xx


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