If you’re like me and you grew up with curly hair, you’ll understand that at some point, the frizziness will get the better of you.
Many of us curly girls will sometimes reach our boiling point when our hair becomes too tangly and hard to manage.
And one of our avid go-to solutions for our unruly hair is getting a keratin treatment.
These keratin treatments have a luxurious ring to them, which is why they’ve grown in popularity in recent years.
They bring incredible benefits to keep the hair soft, luscious, and absolutely beautiful.
But if you jump into a treatment without understanding the best way to go about it, it can also rear its ugly head.
What is a keratin treatment?
There are so many popular hair treatments that involve protein in top hair salons today – including Brazilian blowouts, keratin complex treatments, and many others.
All of these are considered keratin treatments.
Essentially, a keratin treatment is any kind of protein hair treatment that uses keratin as an active ingredient to smooth down your locks and tame frizz.
Keratin is a protein that already exists in our body.
It’s the protein our hair and nails are made of.
By binding more keratin into the hair, you’re adding a protective layer that fortifies your hair cuticle.
It also gives it a tad bit of extra weight to keep it smooth, sleek, and ultimately very manageable.
This chemical treatment makes your hair look straight and sleek, which is why it’s a favorite among curly girls who can’t go another day styling their frustratingly unmanageable hair.
These treatments used to be controversial because many keratin serums contain formaldehyde, a toxic chemical that causes nausea, migraines, and other serious side effects when inhaled.
The clincher is that this chemical is what’s responsible for keeping your hair straight during the treatment.
Luckily, thanks to new hair technologies, many keratin formulas today don’t include formaldehyde.
So instead, you retain your natural waves or curls but still get super smooth and silky locks.
People have the misconception that a keratin treatment will straighten your hair forever, but that’s not the case.
It’s only a semi-permanent treatment that will fade in a couple of months, so you won’t lose your curl pattern.
A couple of hours in the salon chair takes your hair from frizzy and unruly to smooth, glossy, and tangle-free.
It cuts down how much time you need in the morning to style your hair, which is always a plus.
The benefits of a keratin treatment will typically last you two to four months before the keratin is washed off.
But if you take extra measures to care for your hair, you could extend your treatment’s life to up to half a year.
Benefits of keratin treatments on hair
People love using keratin in their hair because it’s known as a protective protein.
It’s more resilient than other cells in our body, so it’s not as susceptible to tearing or disintegrating.
That makes it the perfect coating for our hair when we need it to be smoother and straighter.
The main benefit of a keratin treatment is giving you smooth and shiny hair.
The keratin serum fills in gaps in the hair cuticle to even out the surface of the hair, making it silky soft.
It also reduces frizz, because the hair won’t get caught up in other strands and create friction – they’ll just glide on top of each other.
That way, the hair is easier to manage and comb through, even with just your fingers!
Keratin also reduces split ends, so your hair will look healthier, thicker, and more tangle-free over time.
It even gives a luminous shine to the hair, making it look glossier than it did before your treatment.
Another awesome thing about keratin treatments is that unlike relaxer or permanent straighteners, keratin will wash out of your hair over time.
You don’t need to worry about looking crazy with kinky, coily roots and slick straight hair to your ends.
What does the keratin treatment process look like?
You can get your keratin treatment professionally done at a trusted salon or give yourself a treatment at home.
If you choose the latter, just be sure to pick the most high-quality keratin treatment products for you – preferably one that is formaldehyde-free.
The first step is to wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo.
It’s vital to chelate the hair, or get rid of all the minerals from washing your hair with hard water or swimming in a chlorinated pool.
It’s important to have a fresh and clean base for the treatment, so you don’t want any gunk on your hair.
Don’t use conditioner after you rinse out the shampoo.
You don’t want anything blocking the hair cuticle when you apply your serum, so keep the hair as porous as you can by skipping conditioner for now.
Instead, use a wide-tooth comb to remove any tangles in your hair, so you have a smooth base that’s easy to brush through.
Now that your hair is tangle-free, you can start applying the keratin serum to your hair.
It’s easiest to do this in sections, so you can be sure that your serum is evenly distributed and that every single strand can absorb some of that potent keratin.
When you’re all done, sit for about half an hour to give your hair time to absorb the keratin.
When your timer goes off, you can choose to proceed to the next step or rinse off some of the keratin with water if there’s too much product in your hair.
If you choose the latter, make sure you don’t wash all of the keratin off – you still need a lot of it saturating your hair.
Incorporate some heat
Activate the keratin with some heat.
You can use a hair dryer to get your hair from wet to damp.
After that, you can bring out your hair straightener to iron out each section of hair slowly but surely.
Ironing the hair locks in the treatment into your hair strands and burns off any excess keratin.
The more passes you do per section of hair, the more straight it will be in the long run.
And voila! Smooth and shiny hair you can feel confident with.
Your hair will look pin-straight and pretty much sticking to your head, but just wait it out a couple of days until you can wet it wash it (we’ll get to that later).
In the days immediately after your treatment, always wear your hair down.
Don’t tuck your hair behind your ears, wear any bobby pins or ponytails, or anything else that can ruin its straightness.
When to wash your hair after keratin treatment
It’s important to remember that a keratin treatment is temporary.
Keratin seals your hair cuticles and forms a protective barrier over each strand; but every time you shampoo your hair, some keratin molecules are washed off.
But when is the right time to wash your hair post-keratin treatment?
Most professionals recommend waiting roughly three full days before you wet your hair.
Give your hair the three days it needs to allow the keratin to be fully absorbed into your strands.
If you wash too early, your keratin treatment might not be as effective and can be worn out in just a month or two.
It also omits some odor when you wash just a day or two after getting your treatment done.
So 72 hours after your treatment, you can hop into your shower and reward all that hard work with a soothing, satisfying head-to-toe shower.
When shampooing keratin-treated hair, sulfate-free shampoos are an absolute must.
Regular shampoos often have sulfates, a harsh cleaning agent that can strip your hair of natural moisture and its new layer of protective keratin.
Washing regularly with a sulfate shampoo will make your treatment fade prematurely.
Switch over to a gentle shampoo and don’t wash your hair daily, so you can extend the lifespan of your keratin treatment.
How to sleep after keratin treatment
Post-keratin treated hair is a bit more high-maintenance than people anticipate because it entails caring for your hair even while you’re sleeping.
The most important thing to remember is that you have to keep your hair straight for around three days until you can have your first wash.
That means you always have to leave your hair down when you go to sleep.
Kiss your scrunchies and nightcaps goodbye for a little while, so your hair remains crease-free.
Sleep on your back with your head right on top of your hair.
If you can, try to cop a silk or satin pillowcase for your head.
This texture prevents any frizzing or creasing in the hair because it doesn’t catch onto the pillowcase and cause friction, as it would with ordinary cotton cases.
If your hair were to slip and slide, it would just glide onto the satin.
When you wake up, brush your hair and check for any creases and folds.
If you see any, take your flat iron out and smooth out those frizzy areas.
Your keratin has to set during these first few days while your hair is straight.
Is keratin treatment good for hair loss?
Remember when I said a keratin treatment could sometimes rear its ugly head too?
It’s not all fun and games when it comes to keratin treatments.
Yes, they give glamorous results when it comes to shine and smoothness of the hair, but they have a risky side too.
One major concern many people have with keratin treatments is that hair loss is often linked to keratin treatments.
With every hundred good experiences doing a keratin treatment, there will be a few anecdotes here and there about hair fall after getting a keratin treatment.
So is keratin treatment good for hair loss, or does it cause it?
Well, there is some truth behind both of those notions.
Keratin can be excellent at fortifying and thickening the hair, which you definitely need if you’ve been suffering from any hair loss.
Because the hair is made stronger, it doesn’t break off as easily.
This helps promote healthy hair growth because your ends are healthy and will be less prone to split ends.
However, it’s a double-edged sword because the chemical process itself can promote some hair fall because of how intense the procedure is.
Just because keratin is a fantastic reparative protein doesn’t cancel out the fact that hair loss is a dreaded side effect of any keratin treatment.
The main culprits of hair loss due to keratin treatments can be summed up in two words: formaldehyde and heat.
Formaldehyde, as we talked about earlier, is a toxic and harsh chemical that can take a toll on your hair during the treatment process.
On the other hand, heat also has a hand in damaging the hair as the treatment takes place.
Using a hair straightener for the procedure exposes your hair to extremely high temperatures.
And because you have to do multiple passes per hair section to get your hair pin-straight, you could already be burning your hair.
This will break down the keratin you already had to begin with before the treatment.
This makes your hair weaker and more likely to fall out.
Not to mention the tugging during the straightening process that could also pull out some of the healthy hair strands.
So yes, the sad reality is that keratin treatments can contribute to hair loss.
That’s why it’s of the utmost importance that given a choice, you opt for a formaldehyde-free keratin serum that can also protect your hair from heat.
That way, you can reap all the benefits of a keratin treatment – from strengthening and thickening to making your hair look glossy and bouncy – without the risk of devastating hair loss.
Now you know the 411 about keratin treatments and what they can do for you.
It’s up to you to decide whether you want to go for it.
I think the million-dollar question here is: Is keratin treatment good for hair loss, or does it cause it?
I’d say weigh the pros and cons to see if it’s the right thing to do for your frizzy hair that’s difficult to manage.
Caring for your hair after you have it treated with keratin is quite high-maintenance.
However, if you love pampering yourself and practicing self-care, it’ll be a breeze.
Besides, once you get the hang of post-keratin treatment care, you’ll reap many rewards, like enjoying sleek, smooth, and fabulous hair for longer.