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LAist Interview: Liz Devin of the Andy Lecompte Salon on The Brazilian Blowout

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By Gareen Darakjian

Apparently, “smooth” is a way of life for Brazilians as evidenced by their two most significant contributions to the aesthetics industry. Unlike its more painful counterpart, the Brazilian Blowout, developed by celebrity stylist and native Sao Paoloan Mauricio Ribeiro, is a virtually painless chemical straightening and de-frizzing process that actually improves the condition of your hair. The single application treatment offers an alternative to more caustic and inconvenient hair straightening such as the Japanese Yuko System or Bio Ionic. The celebrity endorsement isn’t so bad either. When Nicole Richie wrote about her amazing results on her personal website, the blogosphere listened and booked a trip to Brazil. Ashley Tisdale and Rachel Griffiths - who used the treatment to repair an unfortunate flatiron fiasco - both boast the restorative properties of the Brazilian Blowout.

As LAist’s resident guinea pigs, we sacrificed our precious locks for the sake of journalism and were pleasantly surprised - shocked, even. Hours of heat styling and upper arm aerobics would be a thing of the past. Heck, we wouldn’t even need a hairbrush! We spent the afternoon chatting with Liz Devin of the Andy Lecompte Salon in West Hollywood and, after 90 minutes (and a killer scalp massage by Blanca), became believers.

Let’s get the obvious question out of the way: Japanese straightening/Bio Ionic vs. Brazilian Blowout?
There is no formaldehyde in the Brazilian Blowout. The guy who came up with it, Mauricio, didn’t like that there was formaldehyde in hair straightening treatments and really wanted to develop something that required less maintenance and was non-carcinogenic. Plus, Japanese straightening is a three-hour long process, so it’s not so convenient. He also hated that you can’t wash your hair for a few days after the treatment and that there is a line of demarcation between straight and curly when your hair grows out. The Brazilian just washes out over time, so if you have any issues, you just don’t do it again. But I’ve never had anyone not come back! It is unbelievably amazing and it was an accidental miracle. Plus, your hair still has TONS of body with the Brazilian Blowout. It doesn’t lose its sparkle, just the curl.

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You said that the hair retains body even though it has been straightened. Can hair be worn wavy or blow dried to curl the ends?
Of course! You can do virtually anything with your hair treated with the Brazilian. If you style it with a round brush and blow drier, it will look like your hair has been professionally blow dried. If you let it air-dry after you wash it, it will have a natural but straight look.

What ingredients does the Brazilian Blowout contain?
It is definitely a chemical product, but it’s developed with a less intense form of formaldehyde so that it’s not irritating to your eyes, skin or lungs. It also has cocoa in it so it smells a bit like chocolate.

Who is the treatment best for?
It’s best for just about everybody. It doesn’t matter how brittle your hair is - the more processed the better. For people who have curly or wavy hair, the hair cuticle looks like fish scales, and straight haired peoples’ cuticles are straight. The formula seals in your hair cuticle, so it’s best for people who have some kink in their hair. I’ve done it on African American hair and the results are the same. When I started doing the treatment, I was giving people a proper blow dry because they were committing their time and money, so I figured I would throw it in. There is no need for it! When I did the process on my hair, I saw how crazy the results were. Now, I just blow dry it without a brush and just go over the ends with a round brush.

How do you think it broke in the US?
Honestly, I think just because of the crazy result. The other thing is that there are so many versions of this on the market, but a lot of the confusion that I see is that people are marketing it as a keratin treatment and not using that key word: formaldehyde-free. When people are told keratin treatment, they think it’s the same.

What’s the catch?
No catch! It’s not a permanent process and gradually washes out of your hair like a semi-permanent color in about 10 weeks. For a 90 minute process, I’d say that’s an amazing deal! It will transform your hair and you will see the difference every day. You can go swimming, sweat, be in the rain - whatever challenges you will face, and your hair will look great no matter what.

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What made Nicole Richie decide to get the Brazilian Blowout at the salon?
I did her friend Hedi’s hair, who then told Nicole about how much she loved the results. Nicole has been coming to Andy Lecompte Salon for a while and decided to try it for herself. When she saw how amazing her hair looked, she almost cried because she originally had really curly hair. It’s funny - some people don’t want me to blow dry it to see the immediate results for themselves. It’s total instant gratification. I also did Ashley Tisdale, Kidada Jones and Rachel Hunter. Rachel’s hair was really damaged - she had a flatiron blow up on her in Europe and it literally burned her hair. She lives on the beach too, so her hair is definitely affected by the elements. The Brazilian not only repaired her hair, but it keeps her hair from getting frizzy at the beach.

Tell me a little bit about yourself. How long have you been styling hair?
I’ve been doing hair for 6 years. I went to Vidal Sassoon and assisted Jonathan Antin and then Chris McMillan when I graduated. I moved out here from South Florida. I was a bartender out there and thought I would do the same thing here and realized how tough it is to get a bartending gig. I happened to go get my hair done and thought, “This looks like fun!” I thought I’d give it a try. I totally fell in love with it and I hear I’m good at it! It was a pretty big gift. I have been blessed with the people I have come across and had the opportunity to work with.

How did you get to work with all those big names out of Vidal Sassoon?
I was a few months out of beauty school and was working at a salon. Jonathan’s assistant, a friend of mine, called me and said he needed a new assistant. It was something I wanted to do, so I left the salon where I was working at the time. I started working with Andy (Lecompte) because, again, I had a friend who was a friend of Andy’s and assisted him for two months before I became a stylist.

The Brazilian Blowout starts at around $350 depending on the hair. To see the results for yourself, call the Andy Lecompte Salon at (310)273-4100 to book an appointment with Liz Devin.