WHAT IS A KERATIN TREATMENT?
Also known as Brazilian hair treatments, keratin hair treatments are a semi-permanent, hair-smoothing, curl-softening professional chemical treatment. They make hair straighter, shinier and even healthier. The treatments are usually made up of a chemical like formaldehyde (which creates the long-lasting smoothing effect), conditioners, and some keratin (a protein our hair is made of to add strength).
HOW DOES A KERATIN HAIR TREATMENT DIFFERENT THAN THE JAPANESE SMOOTHING?
The Japanese hair straightening treatment (a.k.a. thermal reconditioning) is permanent -- it actually changes the internal structure of your hair, removes all curl to create pin-straight strands and may damage hair. On the flip side, keratin hair treatments only last four to six months (depending on the product used and your lifestyle), they only soften curl (though they will straighten waves), eliminate frizz and can make hair healthier over time.
WHAT DOES THE PROCESS INVOLVE?
Typically your hair is washed with a clarifying shampoo and blow dried before the treatment is applied section by section, and combed through the hair. Then you may sit for a bit with the treatment on your hair before the stylist blow dries your hair a second time, and seals the treatment onto your strands using a flat iron. Next, you can't wash your hair, put it in a ponytail, get it wet or put it behind your ears for 24-72 hours, depending on how curly your hair is. The entire process takes two to four hours depending on your hair type and length.
WHO'S THE BEST CANDIDATE FOR KERATIN AND WHO SHOULDN'T DO IT?
If you spend a ton of time blow drying and flat ironing your hair and/or have curls that you want to loosen, or if your hair has frizz or lacks shine, you're likely a good candidate. Keratin hair treatments work on a variety of hair textures including African American hair types, and color-treated or previously chemically-treated types, Basically, if your hair can stand a 450-degree flat iron, it can handle this treatment.
ARE KERATIN HAIR TREATMENT SAFE, WHAT'S THE CONTROVERSY ABOUT IT?
Keratin hair treatments are controversial because some contain/contained formaldehyde, or more correctly, a chemical called formalin (or methylene glycol) that "when heated to 450 degrees can turn back into formaldehyde”. The levels of formaldehyde found in these treatments are safe according to OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) especially when proper protection and ventilation are used, and this is in regards to the stylists who do many of these treatments weekly. In the course of getting their hair done [clients] will never exceed the [safe] limit" of formaldehyde exposure. And that the "only risk is if [clients] have an allergy." So unless you have an allergy to formaldehyde or other aldehydes -- many products on the market use alternatives to formalin that fall in the aldehyde family.
THE SHAMPOO LOUNGE OPTED TO USE KERATIN RESEARCH BRAND FROM THE US, IT DOESN'T CONTAIN "FORMALIN" BUT WHAT DOES IT CONTAIN?
For a keratin treatment to give you shiny, straighter, frizz-free hair for months, it must contain formalin (formaldehyde) or another aldehyde or a chemical that works in a similar fashion. Common "formaldehyde free" products often contain: glutaraldehyde, biformal (a.k.a. oxalaldehyde -- note the "aldehyde") and ammonium thioglycolate (the same chemical used in perms).