Girl with long hair

Keratin treatments were all the rage a few years back when straight styles were in. These “miracle” treatments made hair ultra straight without the damage of a chemical relaxer. As time has gone on we have seen keratin treatments evolve, become safer, and offer the option of reducing frizz without making the style stick straight, which keeps keratin up to date with modern texture trends. So, what exactly are keratin treatments? Click the notes for more. –– Kelly Rowe


What is keratin? Keratin is protein. Your hair and nails are made up of keratinized protein or “hardened protein.”

How does a keratin treatment smooth the hair? Not through keratin, surprisingly. Keratin is in the product and does help with strengthening the hair but it is not the tool that is straightening or smoothing the hair. Through the treatment, keratin is pushed under the cuticle and into the center of the strand where it acts like a structural support but that’s about all it does. It’s the other less appealing ingredients that do all the work. The most popular smoothing ingredient is formaldehyde which acts like a sealant on the hair, locking the keratin in and keeping the cuticle down. Now your hair can’t absorb moisture from the air so it can’t frizz. It takes about 3-4 months for this to wear off and that’s when you will most likely feel the need to straighten again. There are products like Goldwell Kerasilk that use a smoothing product like glyoxylic acid, which renders the product 100 percent formaldehyde free but the effect doesn’t last as long and it typically won’t straighten your strands.

Why do you have to use sulfate free shampoo? Sulfates rough up the cuticle causing that sealant on the strand to come off quicker making the effect wear off. Salt/beachy wave sprays can also have adverse effects of your treatment, so avoid them too.

Are they good for your hair? Yes and no. Yes because if they cut down on you heat styling that’s great for your hair. No because that seal on the strand allows zero moisture in, the hair can overtime become extremely dry. Keep keratin treatments to a minimum.


By Kelly Rowe. Kelly Rowe is a professional hair stylist in NYC and a regular contributer to Style Noted.

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