Although we are in this beautiful and long-anticipated phase of embracing and enjoying natural curls, still many people want to try that sleek look of smooth, straightened hair. Many of them turn to keratin treatments that promise to defrizz and deeply condition one’s hair, making them much less textured in the process. And although the name of the treatment is instantly recognizable, not all of us truly understand what the “smoothing treatment” is all about. Is it all about straightening? Does it actually have moisturising properties? Is it beneficial for your hair or just changes its appearance? Can you do it without losing your glorious curls? Let’s debunk some myths and find answers together!
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What keratin hair treatment is, really?
Keratin is a type of protein that can be naturally found in hair, skin and nails. The fundamental idea of a keratin hair treatment is to inject porous areas in your hair follicles with these proteins, smoothing down the cuticle and sealing it up. The result is that your hair is healthier, stronger, smoother, shinier and much less frizzy.
However, there are a few different versions of the treatment. While some are purely about adding keratin, others aim to actually straighten your hair (more about it in a minute). It’s very important to make sure that you are getting the one you have in mind – discuss it with your hairstylist beforehand.
Is this a hair straightening treatment?
It can be. Adding keratin to your hair is basically a rebuilding process – frizz, tangles and breakage appear where hair becomes overly porous, so filling these “holes” with artificially added keratin proteins results in hair turning smooth and shiny. The side effect of this is that hair becomes more straight – if you have naturally curly texture, your ringlets are not going to straighten completely, but may lose some of the bounciness. Finally, the treatment can involve a formaldehyde derivative (or glyoxylic acid for a safer option – we’ll talk about it in detail later) that basically breaks the bonds and reseals them in a straighter position. If you go with this version of the treatment, you basically go through keratin-enriched straightening. However, you need to keep in mind that as opposed to relaxers and other similar chemical straightening methods, keratin treatment does not straighten your hair permanently – the effect will slowly dissolve in a few months.
Is keratin treatment dangerous?
Now we come to the topic of formaldehyde. Some hairstylists refuse to offer keratin treatments due to the fact that some of the used solutions release formaldehyde when exposed to heat. Formaldehyde is a strong-smelling, colourless gas that in high concentration can be very irritating to our respiratory system, and in the long run, has proved to be carcinogenic.
Formaldehyde is normally made in our bodies and we can break it down to carbon dioxide so that less than a third is absorbed into the blood. Unfortunately, bigger quantities are very unhealthy, especially if we come in contact with them indoors. This is why keratin treatments cause controversy – and the danger is much bigger for hairstylists who perform these treatments, as they are exposed to the formaldehyde for much longer periods than the clients actually getting them.
There are formaldehyde-free alternatives on the market, however, mind that formaldehyde is not a single ingredient – it’s a gas emitted from other chemicals, so technically you can have a “formaldehyde-free” solution that still emits formaldehyde when used.
It’s best to do your own research and choose reliable salons that are well-ventilated or even outdoors. The overall risk, given that you get the service done around 3 times a year, is relatively small, but you still should be aware that it exists.
Is Brazilian blow-dry the same as keratin treatment?
You might have heard this name used basically as a synonym for the keratin hair treatment but in reality, “Brazilian Blowout” is a trademarked label, used for the treatment itself and a series of hair care products. Some hairstylists use this name (or the similar “Brazilian blow-dry”) to describe their own version of it. A real Brazilian Blowout™ is said to be a smoothing treatment that “creates a protective protein layer around the hair shaft to eliminate frizz and smooth the cuticle” and lasts for up to 12 weeks. It also promises a slightly more voluminous effect than the regular keratin treatment provides, reducing the need to style your hair every day. It’s crucial to always make sure that you are getting the “real deal” and not just a similarly named service if you are striving for this exact effect.
Where can I find keratin treatments near me?
That is actually the easiest part. You’ll find the best salons offering keratin treatments on Booksy’s app or web platform. Turn on your location services for even more accuracy or choose your preferred neighbourhood and voila – you have all your best options on the plate! Good luck and enjoy your silky smooth locks!