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What's The Deal With Hair Burning (a.k.a. Velaterapia)?
We've never purposely played with fire, because that's not advised: we're still not sure about this new treatment, velaterapia, a brazilian hair burning treatment that promises to refresh split ends and leave hair smooth and shiny. The procedure, also known as “candle cutting”, is for dry and damaged hair, and is intended to combat the stress caused by chemical treatments, dying, and styling. To the women of Brazil, this treatment is nothing new. Since the 1960s women have been using it, but supermodel Alessandra Ambrosia recently popularized velaterapia with an Instagram post.
The hair is separated into small, twisted sections. Each section is pulled taught and a slow burning candle is carefully passed up and down a few times. The twisting exposes split ends, which the burning singes off—following the burn, a deep conditioning treatment is applied. After that, sections are twisted again, and any rogue flyaways or singed ends are snipped off with scissors.
The procedure is meant to clean up ragged areas without sacrificing length. The flame is supposed to cauterize the hair, which opens up the hair follicle and makes it more receptive to nutrients. Excessive brushing or use of chemicals causes the hair to be less permeable to nutrients, and velaterapia is intended to open up the interior. Ricardo Gomes, who performs the procedure at Maria Bonita salon in SoHo, has treated countless tresses and says he's perfected the conditioning after-treatment that revitalizes hair after the flames burn flyaways. He says,“When you run the flame through the hair, it’s such a shock treatment that you need something really strong and powerful to close that cuticle back, and start the growing process to become a lot stronger than what it was."
The price is around $200 and can take up to 3 hours. For regular upkeep, a procedure every four months is recommended.
Renowned hair stylist Christopher Lospalluto points out that velaterapia “poses the potential threat of weakening the hair strands. "This is the worst idea ever," adds hairstylist Matt Fugate at Sally Hershberger Salon. "Anyone who is educated in the layers of the hair shaft knows that this kind of process will ruin your cuticle—your clear coat of protection—weaken your hair and expose your cortex layer to the environment." Lospalluto suggests not taking the risk, as there are “many ways to rid the hair of split ends other than burning them off.” May we suggest a small trim?