NEW YORK — Whether it’s sun-kissed skin or manufactured body tweaks, there’s a certain something to beauty in Brazil that has global appeal.
In hair, skin care, cosmetic surgery and body contouring, the cachet that will soon be onstage when the Olympics begin in August is as varied as Brazilians themselves, among them supermodels Gisele Bundchen, Alessandra Ambrosio and Adriana Lima.
A taste of Brazil in beauty:
Higher or larger is not exclusive to Brazil and never was, but a certain type of enhancement procedure is known as the Brazilian butt lift. What, exactly, is it?
Basically, it’s a fat-transfer method that involves taking fat out of the back, hips, belly or wherever it won’t be missed, and strategically placing it in the buttocks based on a “map” decided upon ahead of time, said Dr. Mitchell Chasin, a cosmetic surgeon and laser specialist in New Jersey.
It’s not about a cartoonish look for most, he said, and many people are terrible candidates due to age-related skin laxity and other factors. Surprisingly, people who are in great shape, eating healthfully and exercising regularly just might look down and realize their butts are gone, especially when they reach their late 30s or 40s, he said.
Chasin does the lifts under local anesthesia, which allows patients to stand so he can consider mid-procedure corrections not easily done when a recipient is lying down. He urges patients not to sit directly on their buttocks for at least a week after. That’s key and lots of people ignore the advice, ruining the effect.
The cost, in Chasin’s practice, ranges from $7,000 to $10,000.
The Brazilian blowout is not a blow-dry. It’s a keratin treatment and not necessarily aimed at pin-straight locks.
The term generally refers to frizz control, calming loose curls and repairing damaged hair through chemical or organic treatments.
“Beach waves are still in demand, but you will not wake up with hair that looks camera ready,” said Anthony French, a Brazilian blowout expert and stylist at Andy Lecompte Salon in Los Angeles.
So what does keratin do? It attaches protein to hair that seals down the cuticle, producing more manageable hair. Much has been made of smoothing products that contain formaldehyde. The issue of fumes sickening salon workers prompted a warning in 2011 from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Lots of things will prematurely break down the treatment, especially during the summer. Ocean saltwater and chlorinated pool water are among them. Before diving in, he said, wet hair with fresh water and apply a conditioner as a barrier. Sweating can also be a factor.
Celebrity hair stylist Ted Gibson has worked on many a famous Brazilian head. He’s traveled to Rio a lot and thinks one of the things that makes Brazilian women known for bringing the sexy is long, tousled manes and exotic, melting-pot looks. But when clients in the United States ask for the Brazilian “look” in color, they’re usually talking about golden brown hair.
In terms of achieving that look, French said what many clients usually describe is called balayage. It’s a technique for highlighting hair that involves painting on dye to create graduated, natural-looking color. It differs from ombre, which is a heavier disconnection between dark and light. No foils are used in balayage.
“The idea is that it’s effortless, it’s very sexy, it’s not contrived at all, it’s youthful,” Gibson said. “It can work on different ethnicities.”
When it comes to body hair, silky smooth is the Brazilian way. Much is made of pubic waxing. Attaching the word “Brazil” to treatments is a popular marketing tool.
Removing hair “down south, everywhere, started in Brazil. It’s become very popular,” said Olga Katsnelson, manager of the Dyanna Spa in Manhattan that specializes in a variety of services.
The day spa also does a Brazilian manicure, a keratin-filled glove warmed up a bit with the fingertips cut off. The keratin softens the hand while the nails are done.
Hair is only half the story here. There’s cellulite to contend with, and non-invasive body shaping.
In Austin, Texas, an actual Brazilian, Edneia Hathaway, operates Brazilian Body Contours. In addition to Brazilian-style “turbinada” massage, which uses rollers to tone and reshape, she offers treatments that include using microcurrent, something called “ultrasound cavitation” that promises to convert fat cells into liquid disposed of naturally by the body, and a vacuum therapy system that uses suction and power-driven rollers to manipulate and massage tissue in problem areas.
“Pretty much every woman knows about these things all over Brazil,” said Hathaway, originally from Sao Paulo. “We’re always at the beach. We don’t want to do surgery all the time so all of this helps maintain for cellulite and skin tightening. The Brazilian woman, we’re not as shy. We wear a lot of sexy clothes.”
Chasin, with offices in the Livingston and Bridgewater areas of New Jersey, said skin damage from sun exposure is hardly unique to Brazil. It’s just that some in Brazil are perfectionists and not shy about seeking out treatments for all sorts of things, including sun damage, fine lines, wrinkles, loose skin and age-related brown spots.
Skin type, geography and genetics contribute to how such damage plays out and when, in addition to ill effects from smoking, which can hasten signs of sun exposure.
The best protection is not to damage the skin to begin with. A common mistake is not applying enough sunscreen and not reapplying frequently, say every four to five hours you’re in the sun. And Chasin means a heavy application of an actual sunblock with UVA and UVB protection, not a moisturizer or makeup that includes some sunscreen. Even then, sun exposure is tricky and often appears years after the damage was done.
Another misconception is thinking that tanning, as opposed to burning, can’t cause sun damage. It certainly can, he said.
“No sunblock is infallible. What is in the works and being studied are oral sunblocks. Eventually we’ll have that,” Chasin said. “That will probably be the first true block. Everything else falls short.”