The New Brazilian Hair Treatment Includes Actual Fire

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Photo: Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images for CBS Radio Inc.

There's a new Brazilian beauty treatment for those desiring healthier, shinier hair: Velaterapia, which means candle therapy. You may have seen models like Alessandra Ambrosio and Izabel Goulart Instagramming the process, which literally involves a stylist playing with fire, passing a lit candle through hair strands. If you search the tag #VelaterapiaLaces (the name of the process plus a popular Brazilian salon) on Instagram, you'll see Brazilian women talking on the phone and sitting quietly as they submit to a beauty treatment that recalls ear-candling. To learn more about this special treatment from someone who has actually experienced it, the Cut spoke to Victoria Ceridono, Vogue Brazil editor, founder of the blog Dia de Beaute, and regular velaterapia-rator (not to be confused with velociraptor). She tells us in her words what the process entails and whether it actually works.

"I know, the hair burning looks so weird, right? Models, bloggers, and socialites love the treatment and I try to do it every four months when I go to São Paulo; it really does make your hair look much better and healthier.

"The process starts with a lit candle, which is used to cauterize the hair, in order to prevent future breakage and split ends. It doesn’t hurt; it’s really quick! They twist each section of hair and the flame goes very quickly through it. You almost don’t smell hair burning. This is the first step of a strengthening treatment. Basically you 'heal' the hair and prevent future damage and then remove the split ends that already happened with an 'embroidered' technique — the result is stronger and fuller hair.

"Then your hair gets 'embroidered' as a stylist will meticulously remove split ends with a scissor along the hair strand, almost strand by strand. They always do half your head, then tell you to feel both sides to compare. It’s really impressive — treated hair feels fuller and softer without adding any extra product! And you don’t lose any of the hair’s length. In the last step, a multivitamin mix is applied to the hair. Burning and cutting the hair helps the nutrients from the mix to penetrate deeper, without losing any length.

"The candle technique has been used in Brazil for some time. Brazilian hair legend Mercedes Dios, some 50 years ago, decided to perfect the technique and added the embroidery part, and it became what it is today. Her family is now split between two salon branches in São Paulo, Laces & Hair and Dios — there is kind of a Laces gang and a Dios gang, because you tend to go always to the same one! I get it at Dios, and for people who visit São Paulo, I always recommend they get it. It’s such a local/insider thing, and a very unique experience. The candle therapy plus embroidery costs about $180."