before and after keratin treatment on hair

Keratin Treatment 101: Getting the Basics Down

Get sleek hair with a keratin treatment.

If you’re in search of the keratin treatment basics, you’ve come to the right place. In our quest to achieve perfectly straight, frizz-free locks, we’re always on the hunt for new treatment ideas and techniques. One popular restorative treatment that has been getting rave reviews is the keratin hair treatment, which uses a protein naturally found in your tresses. A keratin treatment is a semi-permanent solution that promises to create smoother and straighter hair for a long time.

Sounds intriguing, right? Read on to learn all about keratin treatment basics and how this treatment can work for you.

Best Keratin Treatment Guide

Hair keratin treatments work to repair gnarly split ends by restoring the protein bonds in your hair, causing them to reform, seal and straighten. Keratin smoothing treatment offers a high-shine finish to your strands in just one session.

Brunette woman with keratin treated hair.

What is a keratin treatment?

A professional keratin treatment is a semi-permanent solution that is applied to your hair. This chemical process eliminates frizz by smoothing and adding shine to your hair. Plus, it’s a worthwhile investment if you want sleek, straight strands every day because the treatment can last up to six months. You may have heard of the treatment before; it can also be called a Brazillian blowout. Either of these keratin protein treatment options offers these beneficial results.


The Step by Step Keratin Treatment Process

Step 1: Wash and dry.

Generally, the process starts with your hair being washed with a clarifying shampoo and blow-dried.

Step 2: Apply the treatment.

The keratin hair treatment is applied to your hair section-by-section and is then combed throughout your hair. During this stage, the strong formula works to nourish the hair as it repairs damage from within as it strengthens the bonds in your hair.

Step 3: Let the magic work.

The formula sits for around 90 minutes or so, depending on the length of your tresses.

Step 4: Seal it in.

The treatment is then sealed with heat via a blow-dryer or flat iron. This creates a humidity-resistant and frizz-free finish.

Step 5: Don’t wash your hair!

After you have the formula applied, you’ll have to let it sit untouched for 72 hours. This means no wetting or even placing behind the ears (extreme, we know). You will then have to use sodium and sulfate-free shampoo to help maintain the treatment. In general, you can expect your treatment to last for around two to two and a half months.


Your Keratin Straightening Treatment FAQs Answered

Who Should Try Keratin Treatments?

Since these treatment options create straight and smooth locks, those with curly or frizzy hair are the ideal candidates. Because keratin treatment makes hair straight, you can use keratin treatments for curly hair and keratin treatments for wavy hair. They may be beneficial for someone who constantly blow-dries or flat irons their hair and who is also looking to cut down on styling time.

They are also ideal for someone seeking a solution for healthy hair, as keratin treatments can make locks healthier and feel more nourished over time. This treatment also works on a variety of hair textures, including natural hair types and those who have color-treated or chemically processed hair.

Who Shouldn’t Use Keratin Treatments?

Pregnant women should speak to their doctors if they ever want to try these treatments, as some formulations may have higher concentrations of chemicals than others. Also, keep in mind that the treatment is not ideal for those with straight hair, fine hair, or hair that is way too bleached or over-processed.

Young model with natural hair after a keratin treatment.
Photo Credit: Sofia Zhuravetc/Shutterstock.

How Long Does a Keratin Treatment Last? 

Your newly straightened hair will last anywhere between 2 to 6 months, depending on the brand of Keratin you’ve used, the way it’s been applied and your lifestyle. The better care you take of your mane, the longer it will last. Here are some tips to make the most of your keratin treatment:

  • Don’t wrap your hair in a ponytail or wash it for the first 3 days after getting the treatment.
  • Don’t wash your hair too often. Aim for 2-3 times a week maximum.
  • Use sulfate-free shampoos. Many hair products contain sulfates and parabens that tend to wash off the keratin effect quite quickly. We love Love Beauty and Planet Black Tea Kombucha & Red Ginger Sulfate-Free Shampoo that gently cleanses your strands while giving them a soft and shiny boost.
  • Wrap your hair in a satin pillowcase or scarf after washing to keep the moisture locked in.
  • Avoid heat styling. As keratin treatment is styling itself, you won’t need more to look gorgeous. Avoid curling irons and other heated tools and when drying your hair, go for the cool setting on your blow dryer.
  • Add a serum to your routine. Avoid using heavy styling products like mousses, creams and sprays and opt for a top-notch serum instead.

Does a Keratin Treatment Damage Hair? 

The high heat and chemicals used in a keratin treatment might be harmful to your hair and make it dry, brittle and prone to breakage. If you have fine and/or processed hair, you should be careful before booking your appointment, as your strands might not withstand the treatment. Keratin itself isn’t harmful, but the treatment calls for ceramic irons at 450 F to seal it.

Another risk not linked to your hair might be formaldehyde. Some keratin treatments use this chemical that is dangerous for your health if inhaled.

Can You DIY a Keratin Treatment?

The short answer is yes. If you’re not quite sure about making the jump, trying an at-home keratin treatment is a great option to get a feel of it. You can find ready-to-use kits that are a fraction of the price of a salon appointment (a keratin treatment can range from $150 to $600!) and that wear off after a week.

Keratin Treatments for Curly Hair 

Keratin treatments can have positive long-term effects on your curly mane. Firstly, it will protect it from frizz, as keratin fills the porous gaps between your strands, smoothing them out. Secondly, it will smooth out your curl pattern, which will save you a lot of time especially if you’re pressing your hair regularly. Last but not least, a keratin treatment will give your curls that illustrious shine you rarely see on locks!

However, sticking to a hair care routine as we described is key to maintaining the positive effects of keratin treatment. You should also consider that your curls might not go back to normal after treatment, and the curl pattern be damaged. In this case, you’d have to wait until all the treated parts of your hair have grown out or go for the big chop.

Woman with a long 80s inspired shag
Photo by Photoeventshd/Shutterstock

Is a Keratin Treatment the Same as a Japanese Relaxer?

Regarding hair straightening treatments, you might have come across the term Japanese relaxer. What’s the difference? A Japanese treatment will permanently straighten your strands, because it breaks the molecular bonds in your hair. It uses chemicals like ammonium thioglycolate and sodium hydroxide that permanently change your curl pattern, which means it’s far more intense than a keratin treatment which does eventually outgrow.

If you want to manage your frizzy or curly hair and feel the sensation of a straight mane, a keratin treatment might be the best solution for you. Don’t forget to explore other less permanent solutions or try a DIY kit at home before taking the big leap!


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