Over the past several years, the beauty industry has been revolutionized by the introduction of keratin smoothing treatments. With an ever-growing demand for this texture management solution, the keratin market has flourished. In just the past two years, the keratin landscape has undergone a rapid evolution bringing with it not just new treatments, but also a suite of keratin-infused retail products and tools geared toward providing and maintaining smoothing solutions for all textures of hair. As keratin smoothing treatments have evolved, so have consumer need and demand for aftercare products.
The Evolution of Smooth
Keratin treatments were first introduced to the market as a nonpermanent solution for those who wanted to straighten their textured hair. There are now a plethora of available keratin options ranging from in-salon thermal applications to retail products that allow clients to choose from a variety of finished looks, from frizz free curls to sleek, smooth hair. “When GK Hair was founded, we had a high demand for poker straight hair,” explains Ashley Fenice, marketing coordinator for the company. “Everybody wanted the sleek, super-tamed look. Today’s consumer now is mainly looking for flexibility. More and more women are starting to embrace their curls and they want to be able to easily change from curls to straight hair.”
The keratin retail product and aftercare market has evolved as a response to the shift in demand.“It’s no longer about having just straight hair,” says Farouk VP of Shows and Education, Lisa Marie. “Clients want controlled volume and body. Keratin products are about providing your clients with the versatility to wear their curls naturally or blow dry them straight in a fraction of the time it formerly took, while making sure that the hair stays healthy and the treatment lasts.”
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Many of the keratin treatment aftercare products contain small amounts of the protein complexes that are in the treatment itself, so with each wash-and-condition keratin is re-deposited into the hair, prolonging the smoothing effects. Products in the CHI Enviro Home Care Maintenance System are enriched with the same pearl and silk proteins found in the CHI Enviro Smoothing Treatment. In addition, the CHI products are formulated with a low pH to reduce frizz and add shine.
Brands such as Bio Ionic’s Agave, use sulfate- and sodium chloride-free technology in their aftercare products to extend the results of the treatment. We know that sulfates and salts have the ability to strip color and we are applying this same concept to making sure we’re not stripping the keratin from the hair,” explains Ian Murphy, senior VP of sales and marketing at Bio Ionic.
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Empowering and Educating
Because keratin is adhered to the cuticle of the hair with heat, the smoothing effects eventually wear off. “Working to maintain a keratin treatment is like protecting an investment,” says Fenice. If used regularly, at-home aftercare products allow clients to extend the life of their keratin treatments to their maximum potential. According to INOAR marketing and sales director, Fabiana Allegro, when the company asked two models to use two different sets of products following their smoothing treatments, the model who used the targeted aftercare products saw smoothing results for five months — twice as long as the other model’s results lasted.
For stylists hoping to establish a connection with keratin clientele, aftercare products provide a special opportunity as stylists teach the clients how to maintain their treated hair at home. “If a client goes home and doesn’t do anything special to maintain her hair, it’s like going to a doctor and then not filling your prescription,” says Farouk’s Lisa Marie. “Give clients the tools and the products they need to keep their hair in good shape after a treatment. Many stylists aren’t comfortable with selling products, but don’t think of it as retailing; it’s educating your clients and helping them to maintain their keratin treatment.”
In addition to products, tools also support the maintenance of a keratin treatment. Bio Ionic’s brushes, flat irons and blow dryers are infused with a blend of 32 minerals called a Nano Ionic Complex, which reconditions and rehydrates as hair is dried and styled.
Stylists can further educate clients about lifestyle hazards that can potentially shorten the lifespan of a keratin treatment. “Swimming can have the same effects on a keratin treatment that a harsh shampoo may have,” explains Allegro. “Salt water and chlorine can strip away the keratin, cutting the length of the treatment in half if extra measures are not taken to protect the hair.” Allegro suggests saturating the hair with tap water and slicking on a leave-in conditioner before swimming. This technique will allow the hair to absorb less of the harmful salt water or chlorine and protect the keratin treatment. Similarly, after working out, the client should cleanse the hair thoroughly of sweat and replenish moisture with a leave-in treatment.
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New Benefits for Non-Keratin-Treated Hair
Hair is made up of about 90 percent keratin and 10 percent moisture, but environmental factors, heat straightening and color processing all can work to deplete hair’s naturally existing keratin. This is why stylists are discovering that even clients who have not had a heat-applied keratin treatment may find advantages to using keratin-infused cleansers, conditioners and styling products to reverse some of the effects of damage or simply to strengthen the hair. In some cases, these products can replace a blow-dry treatment.
CHI Keratin Mist is ideal for those who want the benefits of protein to help strengthen the hair. The product adds strength, controls porosity and makes treated or untreated hair easier to detangle.
“Sometimes a ‘keratin treatment’ can simply be using the Simply Smooth Shampoo and Conditioner to give the client a dose of the smoothing properties of keratin,” says Doreen Guarneri, co-founder of American Culture. She suggests clients shampoo and condition with keratin products on only one side of the hair to see the difference. “Finer hair generally responds to softer smoothing treatments, while tighter, curlier textures really need the full in-salon professional keratin treatment,” she adds.
Rapidly Changing Category
Although keratin treatments are relatively new, the product offerings have already seen significant development and change, with the latest keratin retail offering an option to ensure that the treatment will last as long as possible. “Product delivery is the responsibility of the stylist, so it’s important that we stay informed,” says Robert Santana, platform artist for Matrix. With the right knowledge, tools and products to maintain your treatment, you are also addressing the long-term health of your hair.
“You can customize a keratin treatment to suit a client’s specific needs and wants,” says Guarneri. “It’s about finding the combination treatment and aftercare that works for your client’s needs and lifestyle.”
Read all of this quarter’s Texture! articles.