Get the skinny on keratin treatments.
What you’ll need
Keratin has become such a buzzy marketing phrase these days; we’ve all been inundated with deals from salons offering the most affordable keratin smoothing treatment out there. Before you commit to the process, it’s best to do a bit of research to understand just what this process is and how it works.
What is a Keratin Smoothing Treatment?
A keratin treatment is a smoothing treatment that bonds keratin, a protein already present in human hair, onto strands that are presumably dry and damaged. This is all in the hope of eliminating frizz and making tresses shinier, smoother and more manageable. After application of the product, heat is then applied to hair strands via a flat iron to seal in the cuticle and finish off the process.
There is a slight downtime directly after the procedure—you can’t wash hair for at least 72 hours.
The downtime can be a pain, but it helps the solution completely absorb into your hair. After that you are free to style away.
People rave about the results because hair then comes out to be humidity-resistant and frizz-free, regardless of weather conditions, making it a popular summer-season procedure. The effectiveness of the keratin smoothing treatment also depends on your hair’s starting condition; what can last for up to six months on some women, can wash out in two months with others.
This fluctuation can be credited to the fact that keratin smoothing treatments aren’t a permanent fix. As opposed to thermal rebonding, where the hair bonds are literally altered and re-affixed to another bond to change the hair shape, keratin treatments simply “spackle” in keratin proteins to a parched cuticle with an uneven keratin surface. That said, it’s a hair treatment that washes out like any other, albeit just several weeks longer. We like to think of it as the lovechild of a weekly restorative hair mask and a chemical straightener.
Speaking of chemicals, most keratin smoothing treatments employ the use of certain formaldehydes, which have been said to be carcinogenic. The inclusion of these chemicals has caused some contention in prior years, but these levels have not been reported to cause injury to users, save for a harsher smell. There are formaldehyde-free versions of keratin treatments for the strict purists out there, but they offer milder, shorter-lived results.
Those that are looking for similar results but want even less of a commitment can explore at-home keratin products. A keratin-infused wash-and-care system, such as Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion Smoothing Shampoo and Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion Smoothing Conditioner, provides 48-hour frizz control and help keep locks smooth and shiny as well.
Styling products infused with keratin can also help provide a sleek, manageable and smooth finish to locks. TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Flat Iron Smoothing Spray offers a one-two punch to the process, as it acts as a thermal protectant from the flat iron and boosts your strands smoothness after the fact. A keratin-infused treatment (we like the week-long frizz–resistant technology in TRESemmé 7 Day Keratin Smooth Heat Activated Treatment) also helps to seal in this shine and give that salon-quality polish.
Keratin Treatments for short and curly hair
Contrary to popular belief, removing frizz from your hair doesn’t mean the treatment is straightening it or altering its structure. This misconception perhaps stemmed from straight hair wanting to be sleeker, so a process that removes so-called kinks must be able to straighten out curly hair as well. Understand: Keratin treatments can’t alter genetics or a hair’s core structure, and uses the same formulation for all hair types. The only thing a keratin treatment can do is coat the hair with proteins to resist humidity and promote sleekness and shine.
Keratin-treated hair, in fact, is reported as being easier to style—it holds a look better, whether straight via a blowdryer or curly via an iron, due to the lack of moisture messing up the hair shaft.
The only thing a keratin smoothing treatment can do to curly hair is get rid of the poofiness that comes from hair frizzing out. Dozens of before and after stories abound from women who now report shinier, more manageable ringlets after going through a smoothing treatment.