I'm blessed with thick and curly, but course hair, which means that I long for straight, smooth, silky soft hair every now and again. And if I'm honest, more often than not. We all have those days where we get really frustrated with our natural hair.
So you can imagine just how ecstatic I was when I had my first keratin treatment, also colloquially known as a "Brazilian treatment", 7 years ago. It was pricey then (R3500 on special!), and is still pricey now. Nevertheless, I was so happy with how soft and lushious my own hair felt afterwards. I have since read a lot of negative reviews on this type of treatment, so I thought I'd dig deeper into just how good or bad this type of treatment is for one.
Image:Melrose Hair Studio
First things first, what exactly is a keratin treatment? Our hair is naturally filled with keratin (a type of protein), but sometimes it is damaged or diminished by chemicals (sulphates), chlorine in swimming pools, age or heat styling. When you go to a salon for a keratin treatment, your stylist will wash your hair with a special shampoo that strips your hair of all residue and opens up the pores whereby allowing for the keratin treatment to easily penetrate the hair shaft. Your hair is then combed to get rid of all the knots - a rather frustrating task, as your stylist can't add conditioner to your hair. Your stylist will then roughly blow dry your hair before she starts to flat iron each small section between 7 and 10 times. This is to allow for the saturation of the keratin formula into the hair. This treatment restores the keratin in the hair to a level that creates the frizz free, shiny look. Because it is essentially rebuilding the damaged areas, you can expect to see an increase in shine, less frizz, and an easier styling process overall.
Since the treatment uses chemicals that can be very harmful to you (e.g. formaldehyde), it is super important to do your research when choosing a salon, stylist and which brand of keratin treatment you are getting. Apart from the fact that it's expensive, I've had very good experiences with the Brasil Cacau. If you aren't looking to pay the extra dolla' bills to get the right treatment, it might not be worth the risk of damaging your hair for a cheaper form of it. Everyone's hair needs are different, so going to a skilled stylist who will take the time to feel out your hair and know exactly what kind of treatment you need, will make all the difference!
According to Allure, straightening your hair with a flat iron every day is one the most damaging things you can do to your hair. So, if you are someone who is a day to day hair straightener, considering a keratin treatment might be the more healthy option for you in the long run, plus save you loads of time, as you can simply get up and go!
Now going forward, you are going to have to pay close attention to what exactly is in your shampoo, conditioner, and any other products you are using, so that you are ensuring the treatment lasts as long as possible. Sodium chloride (a.k.a salt) is the devil ingredient included in hair products which will wash out your keratin treatment. If you use sulphate free shampoos and conditioners, like the wonderful range we offer from Ref., your treatment will last up to five months, maybe more depending on your hair type. (My treatments typically starts to wash out after 4 months, and I use Ref's sulphate free Ultimate Repair range.)
So, sadly this means if you are planning a vacay in the near future, dips in the ocean or chlorine-filled pools is a bit of a no-no when it comes to keratin treatment hair care, as the salt will lessen the life span of your treatment. Not the end of the world, just "hello frizz" a little sooner that expected.
Arguably the biggest downfall of the treatment, is that it contains a nasty chemical called formaldehyde. When your stylist flat irons the treatment into your own hair, you usually wear a mask / visor to assist in preventing the fumes from coming into your eyes. This very strong odour is indicative of the strength of the chemical. Even although the authorities have very strict rules and regulations with regards to the maximum level of allowable formaldehyde in these solutions, tests have shown that big, famous brands contravene these rules. The question is: how damaging is this chemical to one's system.
Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas that presents a health hazard if you become exposed to it. You can be exposed to formaldehyde if you breathe it into your lungs, if it gets into your eyes, or if it is contained in a product that gets onto your skin. You can also be exposed accidentally if you touch your face, eat food, or drink after using a product containing formaldehyde without first washing your hands. It can irritate the eyes and nose, and cause coughing and wheezing. It is also a cancer hazard.For more information about formaldehyde, clickhere.
I'm sure when it comes to health vs beauty, the answer is always the healthier option. The problem is just what IS the healthier alternative? It's called Hair Botox and even although Botox doesn't SOUND very healthy, this new treatment apparently contains NO formaldehyde and other harsh chemicals that you would find in traditional keratin treatments. I've yet to try it, as my treatment is only booked for mid September, but I'll be sure to give you an update on how it went, how long it lasts and whether it really is just as good as the infamous "brazilian".
In the mean time, if you are in dire need of some soft, luscious locks without the price tag that comes with a keratin treatment, or the hassle that comes with straightening your hair every day, you might just find that we have what you are looking for in our online hair extension store. Our extensions are perfect to create the impression of soft, flowy hair, and will remain that way if you look after them.
Head on over to our range here.