For woman with curly or frizzy hair looking to straighten out their locks, one solution has been making waves for a long time: the keratin treatment. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, this treatment uses keratin and a variety of other chemicals or compounds to achieve the effect of straight hair for extended periods of time.

The process involves applying the product, which should only be done in a professional hair salon, followed by flat ironing the hair to lock in the product. It might take a bit of time at the hair salon, but women reap the rewards with straighter, more manageable hair that lasts at six weeks or more. The time between treatments increases with each one, meaning you can enjoy manageable hair even longer.

Unfortunately, keratin treatments have recently been called in to the spotlight not for their straightening abilities, but for their health risks!

The problem comes with the formaldehyde found in keratin treatments. Depending on what your salon is using, there are several things to keep in mind. For those treatments that are not formaldehyde-free, the product might be dangerous, and even those products that boast they are formaldehyde-free may not be.

Fortunately, there are new, formaldehyde-free products in the market that are coming out and taking the hair world by storm.

What is Formaldehyde?

And Where is it Used?

The legal red tape around treatments that contain formaldehyde are there for a reason. Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring compound most commonly used in preserving organic material in labs. Think back to your old science teacher passing around a dead animal embalmed in a smelly jar. Formaldehyde and its derivatives can also be used as a disinfectant against most bacteria and fungi.

Why is Formaldehyde Dangerous?

Understanding the Reasoning

The danger comes when formaldehyde comes in contact with our bodies. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, but it’s so much more than that. Exposure to formaldehyde can lead to  skin, eye, nasal and throat irritation, respiratory illnesses and severe allergic reactions, even from small, unspecified amounts found in products like a keratin treatment. This can lead to headaches, fertility problems in women, lesions on the body, abdominal aches, vomiting and even death. Obviously, a chemical that in small to moderate quantities can lead to a variety of health issues is bound to create some controversy. That’s why there are regulations on formaldehyde in everything from building materials to your everyday hair products.

Straight-Haired & Formaldehyde Free

Safer Options

Now that you have all the information about formaldehyde, you can understand the importance of a treatment that is formaldehyde-free. And yes, there are plenty out there!

A product can be on the market, including the keratin treatment, and can still be considered formaldehyde-free with trace amounts of up to 0.2% concentration. However, this concentration usually does not effect the average person. In this case, it’s important to know the product you’re using. If it’s formaldehyde-free, it still may have trace amounts of formaldehyde. However, a little research on your part and you’ll find not only something that is truly free of this chemical, but one that can also provide the straight results you are looking for.

After all the hubbub about the carcinogenic hair products, Beauty High reported that two well-known companies, Bumble and Bumble and L’Oreal Professional are stepping up their game!

Bumble and Bumble’s Concen-straight Pro Treatment releases in October 2011 and promises to last up to 30 shampoos. What’s so great about this treatment is the fact that it uses new technology to straighten, and is Bumble’s first ever in-salon straightening treatment.

L’Oreal Professional is also coming out with a chemical straightening service called Xtenso Moisturist, that will be available in a dozen salons. Although it is formaldehyde-free, the service does not use a keratin treatment itself, but chemically alters the hair for a more permanent treatment.

Another new and highly praised treatment that’s both keratin and formaldehyde-free are cysteine Brazilian hair straightening treatments.

All of these new treatments are here to stay and hopefully eliminate any scandal over carcinogenic chemicals in the future.

Why You Should Go Formaldehyde-Free

  • Be simply inhaling formaldehyde fumes, both you and your stylist are exposed to higher risks of lung cancer.
  • While formaldehyde treatments had ecstatic customers singing its praises, plenty of women experienced dramatic hair loss from the treatment.
  •  Formaldehyde is a dangerous, carcinogenic substance and should not be used lightly.

Want More?

NaturallyCurly’s own Curl Chemist, Tonya McKay, penetrates the mystery surrounding the Brazilian Keratin Treatment and its harmful levels of formaldehyde.

Samantha Berley


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