What does a keratin treatment do for your hair? In this guide, we’ll discuss how the treatment works so that you can decide whether this is the right hair product for you.
Do you have damaged or frizzy hair that you just can’t seem to tame? Maybe you’re fed up with the constant hassle of styling your hair every morning, only for all the hard work to get ruined at the end of the day.
If this sounds like you, then perhaps you have already heard of a Brazilian blowout treatment, otherwise known as a keratin treatment. However, is this treatment the right fit for you? Or perhaps you’re wondering what a keratin treatment does? We’ll discuss the pros and cons below, and help you to make the best decision to suit you.
What Is a Keratin Treatment?
A keratin treatment is a chemical treatment, usually used in a salon as a semi-permanent solution for frizzy or hard to manage hair. What you may not know, is that keratin is actually the structural building block for your hair, skin, and nails.
The purpose of the treatment is to make your hair look silkier and straighter. If you’re worried about damage at the ends of your hair, there are several methods you can use to both prevent and treat split ends. However, a keratin treatment is usually used to manage overall hair health, rather than targetting just split ends alone.
Once completed, your hair should appear much healthier and in better condition. If you follow the correct aftercare, then the results should typically last for up to six months.
The treatment works on a variety of hair types, including afro or textured hair. However, natural curls look equally as beautiful as straight hair, therefore it’s down to your personal preference when it comes to styling your locks.
What Does a Keratin Treatment Do?
If you choose to have a keratin treatment for your hair, it will most likely be done in a salon by a professional. So, how does the process work?
The keratin in the treatment is a protein that helps to nourish and hydrate your hair, as well as helping to strengthen it and prevent breakage. It also helps protect against heat damage.
If your hair is already damaged, a keratin treatment can help to repair the damage and make it less prone to breakage. However, if you overdo it, you could end up doing more harm to your hair than good, due to the levels of heat used to lock in the treatment.
But how exactly does keratin make your hair smoother? It’s actually quite simple. The keratin protein in the treatment smooths the cells that overlap to form hair strands, which helps to tame frizzy hair. It also temporarily bonds your hair back together. This can help to reduce the appearance of those dreaded split ends.
What is the process of a keratin treatment?
- First, your hair will be washed by one of the professionals at the salon.
- Your hairstylist will then apply the treatment on the hair while it is still wet and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. During this time, a protective outer layer will be formed to prevent the movement of moisture in and out of your hair strands.
- Your hair will then be dried by your hairstylist.
- For the final step, your hairstylist will use a flat iron to seal and activate the coating.
Time needed: The whole process should take around two to three hours, however, this time can be shorter depending on which salon you go to and the state of your hair. For example, longer, thicker hair may take longer than if you had short hair.
Long-lasting results: Depending on how well you look after your hair post-treatment, the results should last anywhere from three to six months. Avoid salt water and chlorinated water as they can damage your keratin treatment.
Importance of aftercare: In terms of hair care products, it would be best to purchase a shampoo and conditioner that are free of sulfates and sodium chloride, as both of these can affect how long the treatment lasts.
Advantages of Getting a Keratin Treatment
If you are considering getting a keratin treatment, here are some benefits you can expect:
- Smoother and shinier hair
- Promoted hair growth
- More managable hair
- Previous damage from split ends or previous dyeing repaired
Disadvantages of Keratin Treatment
Whilst there are benefits to having a keratin treatment, there are also some disadvantages to be aware of.
- Cost: Keratin treatments can help to promote healthier hair, however, they can be costly. Average prices range between 200 to 500 Dollars.
- Not recommended for pregnant women: The chemicals used in the hair treatments can affect the baby. For example, formaldehyde or other substances such as ethanediol and glyoxal can cause cancer.
- You can’t go swimming: Going swimming in either a swimming pool or the sea could compromise the lifespan of your keratin treatment. Saltwater contains sodium, which will damage your treatment as it penetrates your hair cuticles.
- Non-permanent: Although your silky and shiny hair will last for several months, it is not a permanent fix. If you want to maintain your sleek-haired look, you may find yourself getting the treatment done again — which may not be ideal for your wallet. It may also end up damaging your hair further if you overdo it.
- Potential damage: Over time, keratin treatments could potentially damage your hair, particularly for those with very fine or damaged hair. This is because the treatment requires high heat to lock your hair into place.
Alongside the disadvantages listed, concern has also arisen over the chemicals used in the treatment. We’ll discuss these for you below.
Is Having a Keratin Treatment Safe?
While it is easy to be instantly captivated by the idea of having long, sleek, mermaid-like hair, it is also equally important that you understand the safety concerns involved.
In recent years, concerns have arisen regarding the chemicals used in keratin treatments. But which chemicals exactly?
The chemical of concern is known as formaldehyde and is found in most traditional salon formulas as part of the keratin treatment. It’s this chemical that is responsible for locking the hair into those smooth-looking strands for such long periods of time.
However, it is important to note that while the base treatment itself doesn’t actually contain formaldehyde, it releases the chemical once mixed with water. So although many products may be labeled as formaldehyde-free, they may actually not be.
In recent years, this has raised health concerns over the use of the treatment, as formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that can irritate the throat, skin, and eyes. The CDC has noted that repeated exposure could even possibly lead to cancer.
The full list of chemicals that fall under the same regulations as formaldehyde by the OSHA (because they release it during treatment) are as listed below:
- Formaldehyde (CAS Number 50-00-0)
- Methylene glycol
- Methylene oxide
- Formic aldehyde
The formaldehyde is released into the air in gas form when the solution is heated. If the salon is poorly ventilated, both you and your hairstylist could risk breathing in the fumes. Therefore, getting a keratin treatment could arguably pose potential health risks, both to you and your hairstylist. If hairstylists are often performing this treatment, the potential risks are heightened even more. The same goes for any individual who decides to get the treatment on a regular basis. However, if you do want to get the treatment and would prefer to be careful, you can ask your hairstylist for an ingredient list and read the labels too.
The Environmental Impact of Salon Keratin Treatments
According to the Toxics Use Reductions Institute (TURI), formaldehyde itself biodegrades readily in both aeronic and anaerobic environments, such as water and soil. Under sunlight, formaldehyde breaks down into carbon monoxide and formic acids, which are a cause of acid rain.
However, the hair itself can have an environmental impact. During the treatment process, excess hair gets washed away, which can lead to a build-up of solid waste and can choke drainage systems in cities. Open dumps of hair that have been treated with keratin can generate hair dust, which can result in respiratory problems if inhaled in large amounts.
If you’re looking for a fully natural solution that doesn’t need energy for heating, you could consider using coconut oil to strengthen your hair. Although the results may not be as instantaneous as a keratin treatment, it’s definitely a lot kinder on your hair and the natural environment.
- How to Use Flaxseed Oil for Hair Care and Growth
- How to Thicken Hair Naturally
- Olive Oil for Hair: Natural Hair-Care
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