Keratin is a type of tough fibrous protein found in epithelial cells and helps form tissues of hair, nails, and the outer layer of the skin with its tight strands and intertwined structures. . They are also found on cells in the linings of organs, glands, and other parts of the body.
A keratin treatment is a chemical process that smooths and shines frizzy hair. It’s like a topcoat for hair. Results can last up to anywhere from weeks up to six months and there are many different versions of the treatment that go by different names and a hairstylist can customize a blend of formulas to suit each person's needs. Keratin treatments are designed to dive into the hair follicle and inject porous areas with keratin, which is an essential hair protein, giving hair a healthier appearance.
Hair gets frizzy when the outermost layer of the hair, the cuticle, lifts and allows for moisture and other environmental factors to seep in and cause the hair shaft to swell and become thick and frizzy. By permeating the hair with a keratin treatment, the cuticle is smoothed down and sealed up, preventing frizz and breakage. The body naturally makes the protein keratin and the keratin used in the treatments can be derived from wool, feathers, or horn. Certain shampoos and conditioners contain keratin as well. Keratin smooths cells that overlap to form hair strands, which makes the hair more manageable and less frizzy. Keratin can also reduce the look of split ends by temporarily bonding the hair back together. Some people also estimate that their hair drying time is cut by more than half the usual, allowing the hair to also become healthier and stronger since it can be air dried more often, saving it from heat damage. Keratin can also strengthen and fortify hair so it doesn’t break off so easily, allowing the hair to seem to grow faster because the ends aren’t breaking off.
Formaldehyde is used in some keratin treatments and is dangerous if inhaled. The CDC defines it as a colorless, strong-smelling gas that is usually used to make building materials, household products like glue and fiberboard, and used as a preservative when dissolved in water. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, but some treatments don't contain it. It’s actually what makes the hair look straighter. Some companies will try to hide the fact that their keratin product contains the chemical. Each treatment can also range anywhere from $300-$800, plus tip and there are less expensive at-home options available, but the results will not last as long. Depending on the texture and density of a person's hair, it can take anywhere from two to four hours to get a treatment done. The hair has to be washed, then apply keratin treatment onto the wet hair, then let it sit for 30 minutes, but some may blow dry hair first and then apply the treatment. Lastly, the treatment is heat activated and the stylist will flat iron the hair in small sections to seal it in. There is also a rule after to keep the hair away from water at least 2-3 days after. Also, it’s recommended to use sodium chloride-free hair products and to wrap the hair in silk or satin scarf or a pillowcase to keep moisture locked in the hair as the treatment can cause the hair to dry out faster.
Gallagher, G. (2020, April 1). Keratin hair treatment pros and cons. Healthline. Retrieved March 15, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/keratin-treatment-pros-and-cons#pros
Weatherford, A., & Hou, K. (2021, October 7). Read this before you get a keratin treatment. The Cut. Retrieved March 15, 2022, from https://www.thecut.com/2021/10/everything-to-know-about-keratin-treatments.html
Staff, H. B. (2022, January 20). Everything you need to know about keratin hair treatments. Harper's BAZAAR. Retrieved March 15, 2022, from https://www.harpersbazaar.com/beauty/hair/advice/a1266/how-keratin-damages-hair/