Keratin For Hair: Is It Safe And Do You Need It?

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I first discovered keratin three years ago, after battling self-inflicted dry and damaged hair. For almost a year, I had religiously ironed my hair to tame my thick waves. Then one morning I discovered that my hair was no longer flat and smooth following my regular straightening ritual. Lo and behold, I was forced to put my hair straightener aside and begin a new chapter in personal hair care. Instead of my usual look, my dry, almost straw-like hair was now hiding in a tight bun. 

My new hairstyle didn’t last very long. After several weeks, my longing for my old hair compelled me to search for a treatment for my damaged hair. My Google searches yielded a vague idea of the various keratin and hair relaxer treatments available and a long list of telephone numbers for hair salons.  

My first inquiry was about a permanent hair relaxer treatment. I figured that getting my hair permanently straightened would save me from having to continue straightening my hair regularly and damage it further. But before I had a chance to find out all the information, the lady on the other end of the line cut me off, “Is your hair colored?” 

“Not really. I have several highlights if that counts.”

“Doesn’t make a difference,” said the hairdresser, “unless you want all your colored hair off your head, don’t get your hair relaxed. I had a customer who came in with dyed hair; the results were that she was left with half her hair on her head.”

Well, that crossed permanent hair relaxer and straightening treatments off the list. Especially since I’d subsequently discovered that there was a permanent straightening treatment that was found to contain harmful ingredients. 

Fortunately, I was left with another option. Onto the semi-permanent keratin smoothing treatments… 

What Is Keratin? Where Does Keratin Come From?

Two friends laughing.

Eating foods rich in protein, biotin and Vitamin A can help strengthen your hair.

So, what is keratin? Keratin has been a buzz word for some time already, but how many of us actually know what it means? I didn’t know too much about it either. Until recently, my knowledge of keratin was exclusively garnered from advertising material, which said that its purpose is to somehow, magically, revitalize dry, frizzy and damaged hair so that it looks like it’s straight out of a beauty magazine. But I didn’t know what keratin is and how and why it treats dry and damaged hair. Which is why I decided to do some research. 

I discovered that keratin is a fibrous structural protein. It makes up our hair, nails, and the outer layer of our skin. It can also be found in horns, claws, and hooves. Although this protein isn’t found in food, there are certain foods that can boost keratin production and help to strengthen your hair naturally. These include foods rich in protein, biotin and vitamin A, such as eggs, chicken, meat, fish and beans. Just don’t get disappointed when you don’t see instant results after adopting a protein-rich diet. It usually takes between six to twelve months to see a difference in your hair. The good news, though, is that the keratin hair treatments do offer quick results.

Keratin For Hair Explained

Hair care’s best invention? It would have to be keratin smoothing treatments. (The organic one! -- but we’ll get to that later…) After my first-ever keratin treatment, I went home feeling like I’d just received a brand-new head of hair. I needed to tug at my hair repeatedly just to check that it was really my hair and not somebody else’s hair implanted into my head! 

So, how does this miracle treatment work? As I mentioned earlier, our hair is made up of keratin proteins. When our hair becomes damaged, we experience a loss in proteins which keep our hair healthy. Hair treatments infused with these proteins rebuild the structure of your hair, strengthening and repairing damaged hair. 

Keratin Treatments For Hair Explained

Keratin treatments work by applying a keratin formula to your hair, drying the hair and ironing the hair to seal in the this essential protein. Some treatments are washed out right after the ironing process, while other treatments need a three-day setting time before the hair can be washed. Treatments last between 3 to 6 months, depending on how often you wash your hair.

Although there are several keratin treatments available, I will focus on the three treatments that I’ve had experience with. So, here are keratin treatments for hair explained. 

1. Bhave

Woman with half straight hair and half frizzy hair.

Bhave can remove frizz to make your hair more manageable.

My first experience with keratin was with a bhave keratin treatment. This was the only time the hairdresser applied a coat of sealant on top of the keratin. Which is probably why I felt that the treatment made the biggest difference to my hair. The bhave treatment removed the frizz from my hair and made it soft and sleek. It didn’t make my naturally wavy hair straight, but it did make it a lot easier to straighten my hair. And I felt less of a need to straighten my hair because the frizz was gone. 

There were moments, though, when my hair felt unnatural, sticky and damp. Which is why I tried a different keratin treatment the next time. The bhave treatment lasted about four months. But probably would have lasted for longer had I washed my hair less frequently following the treatment.

2. Brazilian Blowout

I discovered after having the treatment that the Brazilian blowout faced consumer backlash because it was found to contain dangerous levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. I am unsure if the company has since reformulated the product to contain safer ingredients. 

Formaldehyde aside, the Brazilian blowout offered more natural, but less prominent results than the bhave treatment. The results lasted for about 3 to 4 months as well but did not remove frizz as effectively as the bhave treatment. My hair felt natural and healthy following the Brazilian blowout.

3. Organic Kerarganic Keratin And Keragreen Keratin Treatments

Bottle of the keragreen keratin treatment.

The keragreen keratin treatment.

The organic kerarganic  keratin and keragreen keratin treatments are organic, reportedly containing safe, natural ingredients. Initially, I was skeptical if the treatment would actually work. (I still fall prey to the notion that stronger, less natural products work better, even though it’s false in many cases.) But the results were far better than I’d hoped for. 

Upon the hairdresser’s instructions, I left in the keratin for three days before washing my hair. The organic keratin treatment replenished my hair, making it soft and smooth. It didn’t remove ALL the frizz like the bhave treatment, but my hair felt healthy and natural. 

I couldn’t believe it when the results lasted for six months! In fact, ever since getting the organic keratin treatment, a blow dry has been sufficient to straighten my hair and I have never had to go for a keratin treatment again. My hair is no longer damaged by regular straightening.

Keratin Treatment Costs 

Now that I’ve reviewed three popular treatments, you might be curious about the cost of treatments so that you know the price you should expect a salon to charge. So…

The average price for keratin treatments at salons is anywhere between $200 to $600. I remember going into one salon that informed me that their price for a keratin treatment was $1,000 and another hair salon that charged $800. Needless, to say, I did not get a keratin treatment at those salons. 

Do not be fooled by the notion that the more expensive something is, the better it is. In my experience of three separate treatments, the one that offered the best results and lasted the longest cost me the least ($200) compared to the other, more expensive treatments. (I was the least happy with the results of the treatment that cost me the most.)

Top 3 Keratin Shampoos Reviewed

Keratin shampoos are best used as an alternative to smoothing treatments. If you’ve just had an intense salon treatment, you shouldn’t need to use keratin shampoos for at least three months. Instead, you should be using shampoos free of silicone, parabens, sulfates, sodium and formaldehydes.   

I did use a keratin shampoo for some time and it worked wonderfully to nourish my hair. I went for another salon keratin treatment when I felt that my hair needed an intense moisture repair that the shampoo couldn’t provide.

There are countless keratin shampoos available, but the following three shampoos are affordable and work wonderfully to nourish your hair:

1. Schwarzkopf Gliss Hair Repair With Liquid Keratin Ultimate Repair Shampoo

Three bottles of schwarzkopf gliss hair repair with liquid keratin ultimate repair shampoo.

Schwarzkopf gliss hair repair with liquid keratin ultimate repair shampoo.

The Schwarzkopf Gliss Hair Repair with Liquid Keratin Ultimate Repair shampoo protects the hair from breakages and moisturizes the hair. I like to use it to hydrate my hair when my hair is feeling dry.

2. Keranique Scalp Stimulating Shampoo

Keranique's scalp stimulating shampoo.

Keranique’s scalp stimulating shampoo.

The Keranique Scalp Stimulating shampoo is infused with keratin proteins. They strengthen the hair and make the hair appear fuller and thicker. 

3. OGX Ever Straight Brazilian Keratin Therapy Shampoo

OGX ever straight Brazilian keratin therapy shampoo.

OGX ever straight Brazilian keratin therapy shampoo.

The OGX Ever Straight Brazilian Keratin Therapy shampoo contains keratin proteins, of course. It also includes coconut oil, avocado oil and cocoa butter to strengthen and soften hair.  

Conclusion

It’s not for nothing that keratin has become so popular. Keratin treatments and keratin-infused products enable you to manage your hair (and frizz!) while embracing your natural waves and curls. Gone are the days of having to choose between sleek, dead, straight hair and frizzy waves or curls. With keratin you can have both soft waves and curls without the hard-to-manage frizz!

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