Keratin hair treatments promise smooth, straight hair that remains sleek and curl-free for several months. The treatment, which is available in many hair salons, can take up to an hour, and is often a costly process. Hailing from Brazil, this process provides a double treatment by fortifying the hair through the use of keratin, a natural protein, and then altering the structure of the hair with chemicals in order to make it remain straight. There are risks to consider with many versions of the treatment, and customers should be fully aware of the process and possible effects before choosing to have it done.
Keratin is a basic protein found in the bodies of mammals; it is usually present in hair, wool, horns, and nails. Since the salon treatment is known for straightening, it is often assumed that keratin is related to straight hair, but this is incorrect. During keratin treatments, a solution is applied that infuses the hair with keratin, repairing damage and flaws within the hair. Keratin is responsible for increased shine and reduced frizz, but does not directly straighten the hair itself.
After the keratin solution is applied, a cocktail of chemicals is added to the hair that creates the straightened effect by semi-permanently altering the hair's structure. Often, the main component in this cocktail is formaldehyde This dangerous chemical is responsible for much of the controversy surrounding keratin treatments, as some experts believe exposure to formaldehyde increases the risk of certain cancers. In some salons, customers and clinicians may even don filtered-air masks during the process. Typically, hair is then flat-ironed to lock in the new look.
Results of keratin hair treatments vary between users; some find that the process works as described and keeps hair straight for several months, while others are less satisfied with the result. Many are also concerned about the exposure to dangerous chemicals, leading to the creation of several newer versions of the treatment that do not use formaldehyde. Those with an objection to animal-based products may also want to find out the source of the keratin used in the treatment, as it may be animal-based.
Keratin hair treatments are available at many salons throughout the world, and some may offer promotional discounts when a new version of the treatment arrives. Ask to see before-and-after photographs of customers who have undergone the treatment, and do not be afraid to inquire about the chemicals used and available safety precautions. A treatment that changes hair for several months may be a big risk for some customers, but for those permanently struggling with frizzy hair that refuses to straighten through other means, keratin hair treatments may provide a long-lasting alternative.