When you live in a city as humid as Houston, you constantly worry about frizz. So you may be suspicious when you hear about a hair treatment that can offer you a frizz-free style for months. Is keratin’s promise of frizz-free style too good to be true?
One of the top questions that clients ask is if keratin treatments work. Another question is if keratin damages hair. Keratin treatments do work. High-quality keratin treatments give you the frizz-free hair of your dreams without causing damage.
What Is Keratin?
Keratin is a naturally occurring protein that forms the surface structures of humans and animals. People have keratin in their hair, skin, and fingernails. However, humans are not the only ones with keratin! Animals have keratin in hair, wool, and feathers in hooves, skin, hair, and feathers. Our bodies produce keratin to create these outer surfaces.
What Are Keratin Hair Treatments?
Keratin hair treatments use naturally or artificially derived keratin or other substances from replacing broken parts in keratin bonds on your hair’s surface. The chemistry can get complicated, but most keratin treatments rely on glyoxylic acid or a formaldehyde derivative to repair the bonds. Using these substances is more effective than the external application of animal-derived keratins.
Are Formaldehyde Keratin Hair Treatments Safe?
Many keratin hair treatments contain formaldehyde. While you may think of formaldehyde as a preservative used in embalming, it actually has several applications. Industry uses it for paper products, glues, adhesives, pressed woods, and insulation. In addition, the health and beauty industries use products that contain or release formaldehyde.
The human body produces formaldehyde. It is also naturally present in both indoor and outdoor air. However, repeated exposure to increased amounts of formaldehyde is linked to cancer in lab tests. So while the amount used in a hair treatment is unlikely to be high enough to create an elevated risk for customers, it could be harmful to hairdressers’ health.
Formaldehyde can also cause minor health problems. For example, formaldehyde can cause dermatitis in people, leading to itchy scalps and rashes. Sometimes, it causes hair loss. However, the small amounts of formaldehyde in health and beauty products, including some keratin treatments, are considered safe.
We have other options if you have concerns about using products containing or producing formaldehyde. You can achieve similar results from products that do not have the same short-term or long-term health risks. At Salon Efrain, we choose safe products for our stylists and clients. That means that our formaldehyde-free formulations and our formaldehyde products are safe to use.
What About the Heat?
We use heat to open your hair’s keratin bonds to allow the treatment to actually penetrate your hair shaft. Using heat makes keratin treatments more effective and last longer. Of course, high heat also has the potential to damage your hair. You would not want to use that kind of heat in everyday styling.
However, the great thing about keratin treatments is that they can eliminate everyday heat styling. If you usually use flat-iron, blow-outs, and curling irons to control your frizz, you could be creating heat damage. The one-time heat exposure you get during a keratin treatment should be less damaging than daily exposure to these styling methods.
That tends to get truer the more vulnerable your hair is. If your hair is in bad shape, you will rely more and more on hot tools to provide a smooth appearance. The hot tools run the risk of damaging your hair. That means you need to use heat to style to get a smooth appearance. It can be a vicious cycle.
Getting a keratin treatment is one way to help you break that cycle. Of course, if you have vulnerable or damaged hair, your stylist needs to evaluate whether keratin is right for you. It may not be. Doing a keratin treatment on hair damaged to the point of breaking can create further problems. At Salon Efrain, we would never do a keratin treatment on hair that was that vulnerable. If we are concerned about the health of your hair, we may encourage a collagen-keratin product that can work to improve the look and health of your hair. Suppose you are evaluating salons, and they have a reputation for doing treatments on any type of hair, in any condition. In that case, you are going to risk further damage.
Do Keratin Treatments Fix Split End?
That is another top question. You may have heard that keratin treatments fix your split ends. They can seal the hair back together, which eliminates the look of the split end. However, they do not recreate the internal bonds. Plus, the heat from the treatments can actually make split ends worse.
That is why the answer is no; keratin treatments cannot permanently fix split ends. If your hair has significant damage, a keratin treatment could create further damage because of the high heat we use in the process. That is why we individually assess your hair before doing a keratin treatment. We recommend trimming, a care regime, or both to get your hair healthy if you have damaged hair.
What does that mean for you? Your hair will look healthier and shinier after a keratin treatment. It also means that the damage will still be there when the keratin treatment wears off. In addition, your hair will have any additional damage from wear-and-tear. Even people who pamper and baby their hair get normal wear-and-tear on it; that is why we trim hair to keep it looking healthy. Keratin treatments are not going to replace trims or deep conditioning treatments.
Can Too Many Keratin Treatments Cause Damage?
No. If you care for your hair correctly, the results of a keratin treatment should last from three to six months. Using the wrong products, frequent washing, swimming in chlorinated water, and other lifestyle choices can shorten the time. Those are also choices that could damage any hair type, so we assess your hair’s condition before every keratin treatment. If you need trim, deep conditioning, or other treatments to restore your hair’s condition, we can recommend them.
Because the heat used in keratin treatments, can put added stress on damaged hair. If you have frequent keratin treatments, it is even more important to do other hair maintenance. Your stylist can recommend the proper regime to keep your hair healthy and frizz-free.
Is Keratin Right for My Hair?
The best way to find out if a keratin treatment is a right solution for you is to schedule a consultation. One of our stylists will sit down with you, evaluate your hair’s condition, discuss your lifestyle, and talk about your hair goals. For most clients, a keratin treatment is a great way to get glossy, frizz-free, manageable, soft hair. It is not suitable for all clients. We help clients develop alternative solutions to achieve their hair goals in those cases.