Type 4 writer describes her keratin treatment experience

Well, I did it! After much internal debate, research and a very convincing conversation with a mom from my son’s school who happens to be a hairstylist, I decided to get the Coppola Keratin Complex treatment on my 4a/4b type hair. I was very leery about the so-called Brazilian blowout treatment as I’d read that it contained formaldehyde and wasn’t sure how that would affect me. The stylist, who I will call Joan, assured me that it was safe, as she not only got the treatment herself, she also applied to her young daughter’s textured hair. Ok…sure. Another concern was the price. Most of the area salons were charging upwards of $250. I did not want to shell out that kind of cash unless it was a sure thing. Joan’s salon charged $150 so I decided to go for it. The worst that could happen is that I’d get an overpriced blowout and cut.

The Process

Before Keratin

First, Joan washed my hair several times to remove any product reside. Next, she applied the solution. Ok…here is where it gets tricky, and when I realized that this is truly a chemical treatment and why am I doing this again?! The claims that liken this to a simple protein conditioning treatment are very misleading. This is a chemical treatment, folks. The smell was horrible. My eyes burned, Joan’s eyes burned…it was worse than anything I’d ever experienced. I had to sit under the dryer with this solution burning my eyes for 20 minutes. After which, she blow dried my hair then flat-ironed it. I had to keep my hair straight, not even the slightest bend, for 3 days, which was torture as my hair is short. My visions of a cute pixie for 3 days were shattered. She let me put a little bend in it on day two, so I just went home that first day and hid. By day three, I couldn’t wait to wash my hair.

The Big Reveal

Also Before Keratin

The morning of day four, I washed my hair and immediately felt the difference in texture. It felt lighter, softer and the curl was a bit looser. I really liked the result of the treatment. The only drawback has been finding the right products. The heavy gels that I’d been using are now too heavy but my hair still needs more than a mouse or serum. I’m still experimenting with my product junkie stash to find the right mix of products. I recently went to a Dominican salon for a blowout and found that my hair does blow out faster and smoother, and didn’t revert as quickly as it did before treatment. Since I don’t wear my hair straight, it wasn’t a big concern but definitely a nice bonus. My main objective was hair that styled and dried in less time, and that’s exactly what I got.

Some Pros and Cons

After Keratin

Pros

  • My hair dries in a fraction of the time that it used to.
  • My curl pattern is a bit looser and my hair feels lighter and smoother.
  • The treatment lasts 3 – 6 months. Mine has been in for almost 2 months and is showing little signs of fading.
  • The keratin treatment is semi-permanent so it simply grows—no new growth to deal with.

Cons

  • The price—the service generally costs $250 and up
  • It’s time consuming—it took 2 ½ hours from start to finish.
  • It is definitely a chemical process—so your hair is chemically altered.
  • For the purists out there, this is not for you.
  • The formaldehyde—many companies are trying to downplay this but it is the critical ingredient in the process that binds the proteins to the hair, according to WebMd (see article here). Don’t believe the “no formaldehyde” hype…I didn’t get burning eyes from protein!
Straight After Keratin

Bottom line: Would I do it again? The jury is still out. I really like the feel of my hair and that it dries so quickly, especially now that we are in colder weather. Yes, it is a pricey service but it lasts a long time and even longer if you use maintenance products recommended by the company. The sales person at Ulta Beauty told me that she extended her treatment to a year by using the maintenance products so I promptly purchased the Coppola Keratin Complex conditioner (which is amazing, by the way) and will use the Keratin Complex Infusion the next time I straighten as it will reinforce the keratin. The formaldehyde is a problem for me. The thought of subjecting myself to burning eyes for 2½ hours for the sake of beauty is really no different than the oozing scalp burns I endured from relaxers which set me on my natural journey to begin with. There are a ton of new products on the market now that contain keratin which are designed to strengthen and smooth the hair sans the formaldehyde so that will likely be the path that I take.