What is a Keratin Treatment?

Brazilian keratin treatments are still among the most-talked about —and desired— procedures in the haircare industry. And the latest news is that you can get great results after having the treatment on your hair for only an hour, as opposed to the old procedures, which required three days!

A straightening treatment that goes by many names—Brazilian keratin treatment, Brazilian blowout, BKT, keratin straightening, hair keratin straightening, escova progressiva—, keratin treatment is a method of temporarily straightening hair by applying a liquid keratin and aldehyde solution and sealing it with a flat iron.

Keratin treatment is a long-term “blow dry” for hair that lasts about three months. It is designed for people who have curly or frizzy hair but would like a straighter appearance. Pioneered in Brazil, keratin treatments can be performed on virgin as well as chemically treated hair.

How Does it Differ from Japanese Treatments?

The system is said to eliminate any frizz, unruly curls and waves without making it too flat like other treatments such as the Japanese Yuko System.

Keratin treatments different from Japanese straightening treatments not only in the ingredients, but also in that keratin treatments are not permanent; the treatment gradually “wears off” after 10-12 weeks. Japanese straightening also tends to be more expensive and takes longer in the salon.

Reactions from Stylists and Curlies

Robert Coykendall at Hair Studio 411 in Punta Gorda, Fla., said keratin treatments have a profound effect on his clients. “It makes a huge difference,” he said. “One woman we did recently was so excited because she could actually put her hands through her hair.”

CurlTalker Suzie E was somewhat less impressed with the results from her Brazilian keratin treatment. “My hair was loose, but not really that big of a difference.”

This result, however, is exactly what some curlies are looking for: looser curls, waves even, instead of tight ringlets. Many seek Brazilian keratin treatment to achieve the “beach wave” look that is so popular right now.

Dreyer says she especially loves the new advanced keratin treatments. “You don’t have to wait three days before washing your hair,” she says. “And the results with the new ones are much better,” she says.Deborah Dreyer, owner of A Nu-U Salon in Cranston, RI, agrees. Most of her customers who seek Brazilian keratin treatment are after a looser curl pattern. “They want to get up and go,” says Dreyer.

“My clients walk out of here saying, ‘The answer is keratin,'” says Dreyer. “If your hair is frizzy and disheveled, you’ll love keratin.”

The keratin straightening treatment is a savior for hair in need of TLC, according to Michael Boychuck, hair aficionado, celebrity stylist and owner of three stylish salons. He says the treatments revive and replenish hair, leaving it soft, smooth and camera-ready.

Suzie E says she’s on the fence as to whether she’ll repeat her Brazilian keratin treatment. “My hair is very dry — I’m having to constantly use deep treatments.”

So What’s the Cost?

The cost of the treatment ranges from $250 to $400, and most of the treatment manufactures recommend that you use their line of shampoos, conditioners, etc. after you have the treatment, to ensure best results.

The “Formaldehyde” Issue

Another new development is the marketing of many of these treatments as “formaldehyde-free”. While this is true, a truly straightening keratin treatment must contain some product from the aldehyde family of compounds in order to do the straightening. Keratin in and of itself does not straighten; it coats the hair and gives it the shiny, glossy finish. Many of the aldehydes are naturally derived and less toxic than formaldehyde. Still, it is recommended that pregnant women do not undergo the treatment. Additionally, many stylists and clients wear masks to protect themselves from any irritants.

If a “keratin” straightening product is truly aldehyde-free, then it is a different product than what is typically referred to as a keratin treatment, and the results from the treatment will likely last a much shorter time, possibly only until the next wash.

If this seems confusing to you, you’re not alone. Your best best is to inquire as to which keratin treatment system—there are many on the market—your stylist uses, and then thoroughly research that particular product.

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