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Keratin Hair Treatments – Worth it? …Oh yeah!

My hair:  not really long, not really short.  …not really straight, not wavy enough!  So I’m stuck in the middle -with “in-between” hair.  (Otherwise known as frizzy hair.)  I have heard about straightening treatments for years.  Recently, my stylist (Janelle at Studio Fringe) told me about Keratin Hair Treatments. (Keratin Complex by Coppola)

Last summer, I took the plunge.  The treatment itself is painless.  The hair is treated with a creamy substance that is then “seared in” to your hair strands with a hot iron.  The real trouble for me was that I was not supposed to wash or get my hair wet for 3 days! I hated that part…but I almost made the 3 days!

On day 3, I took a fun little river tubing trip with a group of friends.  I felt that comfortably floating down the river in an inter-tube would surely pose no risk!

Saluda River? Yes. Me on kayak? No!

Well, to be SURE, my rubber tire did a FLIP and I went under – way under. And not just for a little while… I was feeling the river rocks and mud for … a few minutes, struggling against the waterfall and current to get upright again!  Wow!  Yes, my hair was not only wet, but soaking with Saluda River Water!  Nice.

Even though I had to wash my hair a day too soon, I felt like the treatment was successful and my hair was manageable and not-frizzy for the rest of the summer!  This really saved a lot of time standing with a flat-iron in one hand, watching as the minutes ticked by on the clock!

More details about Keratin Hair Treatment:

  • I was given a special shampoo and conditioner to use on my hair.  These products were by the same company.
  • My hair still retained the ability to wave and curl, just without the frizz!
  • The treatment is not recommended for women who are pregnant!  This was surprising to me, because I thought the substance was only composed of keratin and other conditioning elements.  Apparently, many treatments contain a varying amount of formaldehyde.There is actually information regarding the straightening technique onWebMD: (stay tuned for before and after pics at the end)

There are a host of brand names available, including Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy by Coppola, Global Keratin Complex, the La Brasiliana treatment, Brazilian Keratin Treatment, the Brazilian Blow Out, and Brazilian Hair Straightening…

…”None of the ‘miracle treatments’ I have tried over the years lived up to their hype,” Greene says. “In my hours of Googling the treatments, I kept reading how it was life changing. So I went to the salon reluctant, but ready to pay a small fortune for what I hoped would not be another disappointment.” She wasn’t disappointed. “I have the soft, wavy, silky hair that I have always dreamed of having,” Greene tells WebMD. “I make random people feel it and probably talk too much about how much I love my hair. “

These Brazilian keratin-based hair-straightening techniques are all the rage. But are they really life-changing and at what cost? Are there any downsides or risks? What about the formaldehyde that some of these products contain? Here are answers.

What Is Keratin Hair Straightening?

Most of today’s popular straighteners are keratin-based. Keratin is a protein found naturally in your hair. It can fill in gaps in the hair cuticle that are cracked, dry, or damaged. It is mixed with varying levels of formaldehyde, and applied to the hair, and then sealed in with the heat of a flat iron. The formaldehyde helps hold the keratin molecules together, which straightens your hair and keeps it that way.

The results of keratin-based treatments last about two to 2 1/2 months. Keratin treatments take about 90 minutes or longer, based on the length of your hair. The price also rises and falls with your hair’s length, but averages around $300. Color — whether highlights, low lights, or merely covering up the gray — can be done on hair that has had keratin-based straightening treatments. In fact, some hair care experts recommend getting the treatment right after your color so that it seals the color in as well.

Maintenance

There is some downtime with these treatments — meaning not washing your hair for three or four days afterward, because the solution takes time to work, says hair stylist Henri Borday of New York’s Mizu salon and the corporate educator for hair care company Global Keratin. Greene, for one, could care less about the no-shampoo downtime. “You can’t wash it for 72 hours after the treatment, but so what?” she says. “That is a small price to pay for months of fabulous hair.” There is also some — but not a lot — of maintenance involved. This basically involves washing your hair with sodium sulfate-free shampoos to avoid prematurely stripping the treatment from your locks.

That is nothing compared to what Dina Khiry, a 24-year-old New York social media executive with thick, curly hair, did before she got her first keratin straightening treatment. “If I wanted my hair straight, I would have to wash my hair, blow dry it or let it air dry for a long time, and then it took me at least an hour or two to flat iron it,” Khiry says. “I could never just wash it and go because I would end up with a huge head of frizzy hair.” But that was then. Now, “I can just wash my hair, blow dry it a little, and it will dry nice and straight,” she says.”It takes me about 20 minutes, which is a big difference from my usual 3-hour hair routine. Love it!” That’s what Borday is talking about. “They cut down on your blow dry time by 40% to 60% and eliminate the frizz factor. You could walk out in moist or light rain and your hair won’t change,” he says. These treatments can make everyday a good hair day.”

Formaldehyde Factor

A suspected carcinogen, formaldehyde is a colorless chemical compound with a pungent and irritating odor. Exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to health problems, including general malaise, runny nose, sore throat, headache, itching, and irritated eyes.

Exactly how much formaldehyde is used in these products depends on the brand and blend. In general, anything less than 2% formaldehyde won’t be as effective, says Bonnie Marting, a nurse practitioner and the director of medical aesthetics at Anushka Spa, Salon & Cosmedical Centre at Cityplace in West Palm Beach, Fla. “Ask about the strength and if they say it doesn’t have any, that is probably not true,” she says. Some formaldehyde-free products actually contain formaldehyde derivatives with the same set of risks. The more formaldehyde, the stronger the treatment, but the worse the odor, says hair stylist Henri Borday of New York City’s Mizu salon and the national director of education for the Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy by Coppola. “Most companies that put out keratin treatments use safe levels, but the problematic part and where these treatments got a bad rap was when salons were mixing their own to incorporate more formaldehyde,” he says.

On Oct. 8, the FDA stated that it has been notified by some state and local organizations of reports from salons about problems associated with the use of Brazilian Blowout. “Complaints include eye irritation, breathing problems, and headaches,” the FDA states. The FDA and other government agencies are investigating.

On Oct. 7, Health Canada (the Canadian health department) warned Canadians that it had found an unacceptably high level of formaldehyde – 12% — in the Brazilian Blowout Solution. That’s just one of the products that Brazilian Blowout makes; others aren’t known to have high formaldehyde levels, according to Health Canada. Health Canada says it has received “complaints of burning eyes, nose, and throat, breathing difficulties, and one report of hair loss associated with the use of Brazilian Blowout Solution. Health Canada encourages people to seek medical attention if they’ve had bad reactions to the product but states, “There is no cause for concern for consumers who have used this product and not experienced any reactions.” Health Canada is also asking stylists to immediately stop using the affected product.

Dermatologist’s View

Neil Sadick, MD, a New York dermatologist and clinical professor of dermatology at WeillCornell Medical College, has no problem with keratin-based treatments. What about reports of hair breakage after keratin straightening treatments? “The hair breakage has nothing to do with the treatments and everything to do with the flat irons that are used to dry and seal the hair afterward,” he says. “Some stylists may use a flat iron that is way too hot and is scorching hair and making it break off,” he says. Sadick is no fan of the flat iron — no matter who is using it. “When you use a flat iron, there is a potential for mechanical damage and that is a major cause of hair loss and breakage in young women,” Sadick says. “Anything that heats up or puts tension on the hair shaft will lead to breakage and can permanently damage hair growth cells if used recurrently.”

Who’s a Good Candidate?

Stop the treatment and flat ironing if you notice breakage, Sadick says. Other people who should think twice and/or get clearance from their dermatologist before a keratin treatment include anyone with an inflammatory scalp condition such as psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis, Sadick says . That said, there aren’t that many other people who can’t benefit from these treatments, Sadick says. “Keratin is more of a restorative treatment and even if you have a good hair type, it still strengthens the hair shaft and makes your hair more resilient,” Borday says. “The best candidate for the keratin treatment is someone in a more humid climate who is tired of the frizz and can’t control their hair and wants predictability,” says Anushka’s Marting, who gets the treatment herself every couple of months.

Since my keratin treatment this past summer, a one-day treatment has become available!  The results are not supposed to last as long, but the price is lower and the wait time before hair washing is shorter!  I recently had this newer treatment done!  See what you think:

Before

After

Before

After

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