Shining and healthy hair is a critical component of our body image. For women, it is one physical feature directly related to well-being and self-esteem. Hair development is a dynamic, cyclic process, where duration of growth cycles depends not only on where hairs grow, but also on issues like the individual’s age, dietary habits, and hormonal factors.
In physiological conditions, 80% of hairs are in the course of growing (anagen), 1% in the period of involution of the hair follicle (catagen) and the rest is hair in the rest period (telogen). Daily loss should not exceed 70-100 hairs, but it becomes a problem when it gets higher than the 100 upper limit during a period longer than a few weeks.
However, weak or falling-out hair might lower the comfort of women’s lives, decreasing self-esteem levels and generating stress. There is a great diversity of products targeting treatment and beautification of hair, both dependent on its internal structure and protein constituents. Keratin hair treatments have attracted a lot of attention from the cosmetic industry in the last few years, since hair is one of the few body features that can be easily modified to create an entirely different style.
Table of contents
- What is keratin treatment?
- Steps to follow
- Precautions and side effects
- Types of treatment
- DIY home treatment
- Future hair care process
- Final considerations
Additionally, it revolves around the essential mechanisms triggered in the process, so that you will easily determine the best product or technique for your specific needs. Why? Because in our struggles to get a better appearance, sometimes we forget to consider the side effects of such an endeavour, in particular, but also for our general health. What works great for someone doesn’t necessarily apply to me as well.
What is keratin treatment?
Keratin is the primary component of hair fiber (about 65–95%), and it is produced in some tiny cells called keratinocytes in the “stratum corneum” – or the horny layer – of the epidermis. Keratin fibers consist of long molecular chains, intertwined and firmly attached to each other – an imperative from a cosmetic point of view. Although hair fibers are composed of dead epidermal cells, there is a huge variation in natural appearance and the response to hair cosmetics. The hair appearance depends on the health of the cuticle, composed primarily of keratin. An intact, strong and closed cuticle act as a protective shield against harmful environmental elements, making the hair appear to be shiny and healthy.
A keratin hair treatment consists in the application of a keratin hair-straightening product, using heat to seal it in. The process takes about 90 minutes or longer, depending on the hair’s length, and the effects usually last about two or three months. Since this is a cosmetic procedure which only affects the hair shaft, the new developing hair will not be affected by these alterations, and it will grow with its natural, original shape. Therefore, treatments with keratin will need to be repeated every 4 to 6 weeks.
The mains steps of a keratin hair treatment are:
- Hair is washed with a clarifying shampoo to properly open the cuticle for optimal results, cleansing hair twice (for all hair types). Then, hair should be roughly dried with a towel, leaving enough moisture for an optimal distribution of the product.
- Hair is sectioned into three or four parts, and product is applied with a brush 1/8 inch from the scalp to the ends. The treatment takes about an hour and a half to two hours, depending on hair length and type.
- Hair is then blow-dried using a large round brush until it is completely dry.
- Hair is then dried again, with a flat iron at the temperature of 450°F (230°C) to seal the keratin.
- After the treatment, do not shampoo it for 48 hours. When you do use shampoo, avoid those containing sodium sulfates, to help maintain the treatment. Hair should be worn down, without pins, clips, ponytail holders or sunglasses to hold it back.
What sort of problems can it solve?
Keratin treatment is primarily used to repair and restore broken and damaged hair, but it also offers other benefits such as adding moisture to make it smooth, soft and shiny. It will eliminate most of the frizz and curls, leaving it straighter. Hair won’t tangle, even in light rain; it will also reduce the time required to wash, blow dry and style hair, since previously curly or unruly hair can be rough dried and it will sit much straighter following the treatment, without the need for round brushes or straightening irons. Since the treatment is basically conditioning, it can improve the overall appearance of colored and damaged hair, by adding more proteins back into the hair shaft.
Precautions and side effects
Health concerns about the use of keratin-based treatments have been reported multiple times over the past several years. The main issue is the presence of formaldehyde, a chemical straightener found frequently in many of these products, because it is being cheap, allows a quick process and leaves the hair strands shiny. During keratin treatment, under the flat iron high temperature, it turns into gas.
However, we can say it is generally safe to breath when the product is applied to your hair, when it heats on your head with high-temperature blow dryers and flat irons, or when it is used in other customers in a salon.
Measures have been taken to counter the use of formaldehyde and its derivatives as hair straighteners, since it can cause severe damage to the tissues of the upper respiratory tract for the user and for the professional who applies the product and has carcinogenic and teratogenic potential. When absorbed by inhalation, and mainly by prolonged exposure, it presents a serious health hazard and can irritate the eyes and nose, cause allergic reactions of the skin, eyes, and lungs. Because of the way formaldehyde reacts when mixed with other products, some manufacturers, importers, or distributors might list other names for formaldehyde on the product information label, or might claim that the product is “formaldehyde-free.”
Take into consideration that formaldehyde might also be listed as methylene glycol, formalin, methylene oxide, paraform, formic aldehyde, methanal, oxomethane, oxymethylene, or CAS Number 50-00-0. The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has been gathering reports from consumers and salon professionals about eye irritation, breathing problems and headaches, and The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has also investigated questions and complaints from hair salon owners and workers about possible formaldehyde exposure from hair smoothing products. Due to the potential health hazard presented, companies have been trying to develop a product with a new active ingredient, without the above mentioned risks, not based on formaldehyde or any other type of preservative.
If you’re interested in using keratin products, it is safer to perform the respective procedures in a well-ventilated area, or outside. Additionally, wearing protective equipment such as gloves and a mask is recommended, as it will prevent consumers and stylists to inhale formaldehyde while the keratin hair products are applied. If you have respiratory problems such as asthma, or dermatologic conditions such as psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis, you should always check with your general practitioner or dermatologist before undergoing the treatment (as with any other natural home treatment).
Types of keratin treatment
There are several types of keratin treatments available, each of which varies in price and means of application. It’s important to choose a treatment that’s suited to your budget and delivers the results you expect. Certain keratin treatments keep hair smoother and straighter for longer periods of time, but these contain strong chemicals that may damage hair in the long run. Choosing short-term keratin treatments might be a safer and healthier option for hair, but the results might not last longer, and you may have to reapply them more often.
Brazilian Blowout was one of the first keratin treatments to be developed. It was originated in Brazil around 2005 and is now available in salons around the world. Through the use of a Brazilian Super Nutrient Complex and a proprietary polymer system, the Brazilian Blowout improves the condition of the hair by creating a protective protein layer around the hair shaft to eliminate frizz and smooth the cuticle. This treatment can be done at any of the certified beauty salons, it lasts about 80 minutes, and it provides smooth and frizz-free hair for up to 12 weeks.
One of the biggest benefits of Brazilian blowout compared to other keratin treatments is that the process is over when you leave the salon. As mentioned earlier, other keratin treatments require you to wait three full days before rinsing out the product at home, but this is not necessary using the Brazilian Blowout technique. As soon as you leave the salon, you can immediately wash your hair, exercise, or put it up in a ponytail or clip without having to wait to do so.
Peter Coppola Keratin Treatment
Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy has was founded by world-renowned stylist, salon owner, and television personality, Peter Coppola. His life-long passion lies in creating beautiful coiffures using the finest products available.
His certified treatment reverses signs of damage and promotes overall hair strength and vitality. Once completed, you get a full restorative boost and unparalleled protection, using the highest quality ingredients, such as keratin, essential ceramides and smoothing amino acids, combined with a low pH mechanism to soften and smooth coarse hair. It drastically reduces frizz and curl and instantly adds amazing shine, silkiness, and condition to the hair.
Lasio Keratin Treatment
Pioneers in the keratin industry, under the direction of Founder and CEO Nadine Ramos, Lasio Inc. is a brand known for their Brazilian hair straightening treatments and remains one of the original innovators on the market and a top-choice of stylists around the world. Founded in 2000, Lasio continues to develop innovative products to achieve healthy, silky smooth, and luxurious hair. Lasio Keratin Treatments are performed by licensed and certified hair stylists, and each appointment begins with a consultation to determine which treatment will best suit the client’s individual hair needs.
Formaldehyde-free keratin treatments
Several new hair-smoothing treatments use glyoxylic acid (or derivatives) to lock the hair into a straighter position. Although they’re 100% formaldehyde-free, they are not so active and don’t provide a long-lasting effect the way formaldehyde solutions can. Nevertheless, these treatments remain a safer and efficient alternative.
Goldwell Kerasilk Keratin Treatment
The Goldwell Kerasilk Keratin Treatment provides long-lasting transformation into more flowing and soft hair. The whole process takes around three hours, and the result is a smoother haircut easier to style, which lasts for two months.
Cezanne Classic Keratin Smoothing Treatment
Depending on hair structure, the Cezanne Classic Keratin Smoothing Treatment can be completed in around two or two and a half hours. Provides exactly what is stated: healthier and more manageable hair that lasts for months. Clients can wash their hair any time, wear clips and ponytails. CEO Shay Hoelscher says this technique has a unique proprietary formula that doesn’t chemically change the structure of the hair but smooths it without breaking disulfide bonds. If you have curly or wavy hair, you will likely see only a small reduction in your actual curl, but your hair will be shinier, and you will notice a dramatic reduction in frizz.
Trissola Solo Treatment
Trissola Solo Treatment is not a relaxer. It will restructure the hair, adding softness and shine, but it does not permanently alter the hair structure like a relaxer does.
Free of formaldehyde, lye, and cysteine, Trissola Solo Treatment contains a hair restructuring formula with hydrolyzed keratin to reconstruct damaged hair and deliver healthy, shiny and manageable hair. Panthenol, antioxidants and coconut oil work together to increase strength and elasticity and seal cuticles. Product is (or rather should be) only available to licensed professionals and application is similar to a traditional keratin treatmentm, explained step by step above – product is applied, the hair is dried and flat-ironed. However, hair can be washed immediately after with no restrictions. The results are moderate, but they will last up to 12 weeks, depending on hair’s porosity and texture.
Supersilk Silk Infusion Smoothing System
The Supersilk Silk Infusion Smoothing System is a nontoxic in-salon service 100% free of formaldehyde, phthalates, sulfates and parabens. This deep conditioning smoothing treatment uses glycolic acid along with Silk and a Sericin Protein Complex to infuse the hair with real nano-silk particles that loosen the bonds in the hair, giving it a soft, frizz-free texture and lustrous sheen.
Rusk Deepshine Smooth Keratin Care Smoothing System
Rusk Deepshine Smooth Keratin Care Smoothing System differs from the other techniques because this is a one-step hair restructuring treatment that can be applied through a hair massage to clean, wet hair in for 3 to 5 minutes and rinsed afterward. It is a short smoothing treatment, formaldehyde-free, and thioglycolate-free, that soothes and strengthens hair, drastically reducing frizz, curl and wave for up to 12 weeks.
Formula is based on keratin proteins, nourishing marine botanicals, amino acids and sulfite chemistry to straighten and smooth the hair. It replenishes moisture levels and instantly nourishes dull, weak hair, restoring hair’s elasticity, strength, and vibrancy.
Cost of a keratin treatment
A keratin treatment in a professional salon can cost from $300 up to $500. The total cost may vary from brand to brand, and it will depend on hair length and amount of product used, so you should consider consulting with a stylist and asking how much you will be charged before getting anything done.
Another great way to achieve smooth hair without spending a significant amount of money is to get an intense conditioning keratin infused hair product line, composed of a shampoo, conditioner and a mask. It is not so expensive and can be an excellent way to introduce yourself to this kind of treatment.
Keratin treatment at home (step by step)
While most people prefer getting keratin treatments at salons, if performed correctly, a homemade keratin treatment can be just as efficient, but for a smaller price. However, some safety precautions must be taken. Before going onto a keratin treatment at home, you should be aware that there are certain health risks because of formaldehyde, the active ingredient we have talked about in the side effects section, used in many keratin supplements. If you are using a keratin supplement based on formaldehyde, take all the safety measures while making your keratin treatment at home, by doing it in a well-ventilated room, use gloves, mask and protective clothing. Keep the product away from the skin, eyes and don’t inhale it.
For this process, you will need:
- keratin supplement (30-70mL, depending on hair length);
- protective equipment (gloves and mask);
- blow dryer;
- hair-straightening iron.
The application at home is similar to the one that would be done in a professional salon. To make the best keratin treatment at home, you can proceed by following these steps carefully:
1. Washing and rinsing the hair
The hair needs to be clean and soft before the treatment. Use a cleansing shampoo to get the dirt and impurities, by rubbing it into the hair and scalp, then rinse. For best results, hair should be washed at least two times. Once the hair is clean, dry it using the towel, making sure you leave some moisture, as it will help the keratin integrate more effectively.
2. Applying keratin
Ensure that you shake the bottle before use. You can then distribute the product through the hair, starting from the tips of the strands going up to the scalp. However, keratin shouldn’t by any chance get on the scalp and skin as it can be easily absorbed by the skin cells. Don’t apply it closer than 1 inch from the scalp. Apply keratin into the hair by rubbing it in gently.
3. Brushing and blow drying
Brush the hair strands gently and thoroughly, and leave the hair in this state, giving it half an hour to set, so the keratin can have time to seep into the hair strands. After the 30 minutes of setting, use a round brush to blow-dry it until it is completely dry.
Using a flat iron, divide the hair into small sections and seal the keratin in by running the iron over the hair strands, starting at the nape of the neck taking 1-2 inch sections and slowly moving the iron from root to ends, passing over each section 3-4 times.
That is the last phase of the treatment where you should avoid washing or getting your hair wet during 48 hours; this is the time required to let the keratin penetrate into the hair and work its effects. Also, make sure that the hair is always straight, avoid pulling and tucking it behind the ears, forming a ponytail or even holding it together using hair beauty accessories.
After the 48 hours of waiting, you can shampoo and condition the hair thoroughly and then blow-dry, according to your routine. Your hair should now be smooth, shiny and straight.
Caring for your hair after keratin treatment
The results of a keratin treatment, if done properly, can last for at least a full month, but how long it will last depends mainly on the type of shampoo you use and how you maintain your hair. After a keratin hair treatment, there are some basic after-care precautions you need to be mindful.
As mentioned before, it is crucial to avoid getting your hair wet for three days after the treatment, since water and moisture can wash away some of the protein treatment. During this time, keratin is still malleable, so hair clips and ponytails can leave marks in the hair. You should leave your hair down for the first days after the treatment or use a soft hair tie for a short period.
The most important measure to get the best results is to always use sodium chloride and sulfate-free (sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth) hair products since sulfates can strip the straightening chemicals from the hair. Avoid frequent contact with chlorine and ocean water, since it has the same damaging effect.
Additionally, you should ensure that you choose hair products that will nurture your hair and help you get the best results. Keep in mind that a good hair-care line should be rich in fatty acids, proteins and natural antioxidants that conditions your hair cuticle, ensuring that every time you wash, condition, and style your hair, you’ll give it a healthy boost of nutrients that compliment your smoothing treatment while adding shine and flexibility. There are several hair care lines containing keratin that will also help you achieve the longest-lasting result out of your treatment
Most people who have made a keratin treatment mention that it is better to sleep in a silk or satin pillowcase to maintain the hair shiny and straight for a longer time. Silk and satin reduce the amount of friction between the hair and pillow during sleep, leading to less breakage.
One of the common side effects of all chemical straighteners is damage to the hair shaft. One of the changes that occur is the removal of the monomolecular layer of fatty acids covalently bound to the cuticle. Elimination of this fatty acid layer decreases the brightness of the hair, making it more susceptible to static electricity and frizzing induced by humidity. Don’t do an in-salon hair-smoothing treatment more than three times a year to prevent this kind of damages from being magnified with frequent chemical exposure.
Does keratin treatment contribute to hair growth?
Performing a keratin treatment won’t make your hair grow faster. Although, since it will improve your hair health and leave it softer, smoother, and more visually appealing, it might help maintaining a longer hair cut for an extended time. One the other hand, stimulating healthy hair growth can be achieved through simple routine habits like performing a scalp massage. It will help opening up blood vessels and increase blood circulation, delivering oxygen and essential nutrients to the hair follicles. Some shampoos, like Provillus, are also formulated to stimulate hair growth, enriched with biotin, vitamins, and oils.
Final considerations about keratin hair treatment
Dry and damaged hair is a common problem among many people, in particular for women, usually caused by the use of harmful hairstyle products and treatments, and environmental factors such as pollution, high temperatures, the wind, salt water, and the sun. When straight and silky hair doesn’t come natural, keratin treatments can provide smoothing and straightening results that can last several months, but since it is not a permanent treatment, it won’t last forever.
Is there a best treatment for you?
Definitely, yes! But you need to find out, because this is not necessarily up to a treatment or another. Quality could be budget-related, or, in your case, it could take a very skilful person to make the difference.
The procedure and results will vary according to your personal hair type, length, and texture so, before considering getting a professional keratin treatment, talk more extensively with your stylist to choose the most appropriate technique for you.
I hope this article has been useful to you and you have learned how to get long-lasting results of the best keratin treatment. Keep in mind that each strand of your hair is made of keratin and it can get damaged over time. Keratins are natural proteins that our body produces when we have adequate protein nutrient levels in our system, so a balanced diet rich in proteins is essential to maintain proper hair health. Besides professional keratin treatments, you can give your hair a boost of protein by purchasing natural shampoos, conditioners and hair treatments that contain keratin. Investing in daily hydration and including keratin-rich products regularly in your routine will contribute to maintaining all its soothing and reparative benefits.