Keratin treatments—and other new-generation retexturizers—have exploded onto the scene

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Learn more about Texture!, a collaboration between CurlStylist, NaturallyCurly and Modern Salon

What if there was a product that allowed you to get exactly what they want? It could be used to straighten, loosen or defrizz waves and curls without damaging hair or creating an awkward grow-out period. What if this product could be used on any hair type to make the hair softer and shinier?

That product, say some stylists, now exists. Keratin treatments have exploded onto the scene, generating buzz among consumers and stylists alike.

A Cure for Frizz?

Keratin Complex Treatment

Three years ago, a handful of keratin companies existed— pioneers like Brazilian Keratin Treatment by Marcia Teixeira, Keratin Complex by Coppola and Global Keratin. At July’s 2010 Cosmoprof North America show in Las Vegas, there were more than 40 companies offering keratin treatment products, from large hair-care companies to small start ups.

“To have a product like a keratin straightener is a breakthrough,” says Stephanie Kocielski, John Paul Mitchell education director.

Keratin Complex Products

Not so long ago, the only option to remove texture in the hair was to use a product containing sodium hydroxide— lye. Next came relaxers containing ammonium thioglycolate (nicknamed “thio relaxer”), a gentler service.

More recently, those opting for a straighter look flocked to Japanese thermal reconditioning, a chemical process that permanently alters the internal structure of the hair shaft, rendering it totally straight. Thermal reconditioning was an all-or-nothing proposition, and many women with texture weren’t willing to commit to it.

But keratin treatments have not been without their share of controversy, either. When they first came on the scene, the formulas contained formaldehyde—sometimes in high concentrations. Formaldehyde is listed as a carcinogen by a number of health and safety agencies. Now many of the treatments are lower or free of formaldehyde and aldehydes, a family of compounds that straighten the hair. Many of the aldehydes are naturally derived and less toxic than formaldehyde. Additionally, some stylists and clients may wear masks to protect themselves from any irritants.

A World of Options

Global Keratin Products

Today’s new wave of relaxers, silkeners and smoothers give clients and stylists more choices than ever.

“It’s all about making your texture—whatever it is—better,” says Sasha Polit, marketing manager for Global Keratin Smoothing System. “If you want to change the texture, we offer that option, but if you want to work with your natural texture, we also offer that option.”

Global Keratin offers Light Wave, for those who want to keep their natural texture; Curly, for those who want more straightening capability; and Resistant, for the straightest look.

Methods vary, but the most commonly-used keratin treatment involves the stylist washing a client’s hair with a clarifying shampoo, applying the keratin treatment and then using a flat iron to straighten the hair and “seal” the treatment.

Global Keratin Before

Before

“In the past, there weren’t a lot of options,” says Darby Shields, associate artistic director for ISO, which developed the Maintamer, a semi-permanent retexturizer that softens and smooths naturally curly or previously permed hair. “You either had floppy hair, curly hair or straw hair. There wasn’t a lot in between. It was
a big decision for people to do something so permanent with their hair. Maintamer is reversible the next day.”

Global Keratin After

After

With variety of new options comes an increased need for communication between stylist and client.

“When they start asking about a treatment, you have to dig deep into what they really want,” says Amanda Jenkins, master stylist and education director at Arrojo Studio. “Can they achieve it without a chemical treatment? I ask my clients to bring in pictures so we’re both very clear about what they’re expecting. It’s all about the consultation.”

Sleek Service

Some clients may want their hair completely straight. In that case, Kocielski says she might suggest The Relaxer by JPMS, a sodium hydroxide relaxer that eliminates curl. “Some people think they’ll be able to wash their hair and it will dry straight, but that’s probably not the case with a keratin treatment,” she says. “Keratin treatments can condition and soften the hair, but they don’t always straighten it.” Price is also an important consideration. Keratin treatments and other types of chemical relaxers cost several hundred dollars, and may need to be redone every three to five months.

BKT Products

In addition to the in-salon treatments, companies like Keratin Complex, Global Keratin and Marcia Teixeira Brazilian Keratin Treatment offer maintenance products designed to extend the life of the service and enhance the results.

The PhytoSpecific PhytoRelaxer relaxes or texturizes all hair types with a non-chemical formula. It comes in two levels: one for fine, delicate hair and one for coarse, resistant hair.

Smooth Operators

Here are a few of the keratin treatments available on the market today:

Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy by Coppola: Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy was founded by stylist and salon owner Peter Coppola. The therapy eliminates up to 95 percent of frizz and curl and instantly adds shine and condition to the hair.

Marcia Teixeira Brazilian Keratin Treatment: This treatment is for all kinds of hair to leave it soft, shiny and frizz-free for up to four months. It can be used safely on just about any type of hair—dry, frizzy, over-processed, color-treated, ethnic unprocessed virgin hair.

Pravana Kerafusion Keratin Treatment: This salon service permanently transforms coarse, curly, unruly hair to smooth, straight and shiny. Or, it makes fine, limp hair voluminous. It contains no thio, no sodium hydroxide, no formaldehyde, no aldehydes. As part of the Keratin Fusion service, Pravana’s Thermal Insulator protects the hair during the texture control.

Brazilian Blowout: Through the use of a Brazilian Super Nutrient Complex and a proprietary polymer system, the Brazilian Blowout improves the condition of the hair by creating a protective protein layer around the hair shaft to eliminate frizz and smooth the cuticle. Results last up to 12 weeks.

Global Keratin: The Juvexin Hair Taming System incorporates a keratin formulation which protects the hair and prevents damage to hair surface. The system is an organic, active complex component, delivered to the hair in its raw, natural state. Amino acids and proteins remain whole to condition hair and
protect it from damage caused by environmental factors.

ISO Maintamer: ISO Maintamer Straightening System is a two-step straightening system that smoothes coarse hair, taming unruly curls and waves, un-perming ends and controlling frizzy hair. Maintamer uses a damage-free, thio-free, lye-free Isoamine technology that processes primarily within the cortex of the hair, to minimize damage to the cuticle while altering the pattern of naturally curly or previously permed
hair to soften and smooth.

La Brasiliana: Intense treatment that softens, smoothes and relaxes all hair types. Available in Original, Apple and Mocha varieties.

PhytoSpecific PhytoRelaxer: This non-chemical relaxer relaxes or texturizes all hair types. Formulated with molecules from egg and soya, it is odorless and does not contain lye. It’s available in two levels: for fine, delicate hair and one for coarse, resistant hair.