Tressed-Case Scenario

By Alexandra Hall | Boston Magazine |

SOME PEOPLE HAVE BAD hair days. I have bad hair months – namely all the ones between October and March. By Halloween every year, I’ve swapped summer’s smooth waves for full-on frizz. By New Year’s Eve, I’m ready to channel Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta and call it a makeover.

Enough. Not this winter. Considering the refinement of this season’s runway collections (my new Michael Kors shift deserves more respect than a topper of unkempt frizz), I clearly require polished locks. I’d caught whispers of the Brazilian Blowout ($350) done by bicoastal hair deity Dean Mellen at Patrice Vinci Salon. "It’s a lower-maintenance version of all those keratin treatments out there," shares one friend. Before I know it, I’m in Mellen’s chair, and he’s coating every hair on my head with a formula of wet keratin.

A hardy form of protein found naturally in hair, keratin lords over texture: Adding more of it makes locks smooth where they were frizzed, glossy where they were blah. Mellen explains all of this as he sweeps my every last follicle with a flat iron (the heat from it bonds the keratin molecules). "Your hair’s ideal for this treatment," he says, shampooing the residue out. "It absorbs everything – moisture from the air, which means frizz. But it can also mean keratin if you feed it that, which seals it to keep moisture out." Way to turn a weakness into a plus…at least in theory.

But in fact, 29 hours later it takes me a mere eight minutes to dry my hair (25 is the usual). And well into the next week, it’s still pin-straight – and shiny as a satin Gucci minaudière. Flat irons? Suddenly unnecessary.

Like the other now-ubiquitous keratin treatments, this one will undo itself if I use shampoo containing sodium sulfates; salt is the enemy of keratin. But unlike those other processes, the excess keratin was washed off before I left the salon, so it doesn’t feel oil-slick heavy. Bad hair months may well loom in my future, but not until long after this stuff wears off.