How Brazilian Keratin Treatment Works

So you want straight hair and don’t have the time or patience to straighten your tresses every day.

You have read about and heard a lot about the Brazilian Keratin Treatments – both that they work and that some may contain dangerous chemicals. You are left wondering: Are these Brazilian Keratin Treatments effective? Are they dangerous? What follows are some facts to help you in making the decision on whether or not to try a keratin treatment.


First, Lets Ask this Question: What is hair and why is it curly?

Hair is keratin. Surprise, keratin treatments are basically applying more keratin to keratin. Keratin is a complex chemical protein chain that forms into fibers. Keratin is the primary building block of skin, hair, and nails. (Cool side note, rhinoceroses horns are made of keratin.) Not all keratin is made exactly the same. There are 20 different listed variations. What decides if your hair is straight or curly seems to be how your hair follicles encourage sulphur to create chemical bridges while your hair is being synthesized. The further apart the sulphuric bonds are – the straighter the hair. (Another cool side note: You know why burning hair smells so horrible? Those sulphuric bonds you just read about! When hair burns, the sulphur is released.)


How does the Brazilian Keratin Treatment work?

When the keratin treatment is applied to the hair and then heat is applied to catalyze the chemical reaction, a semi-permanent chemical bond is created. So those sulphuric chemical bridges are counteracted and, voilà, your hair becomes smooth and shiny!


But wait…semi-permanent?

Yeah, unfortunately, you cannot completely change what Mother Nature gave you, but you can make the best out of it! Depending on your hair type, keratin treatments will last between 2 and 6 months. Good news here! You can maximize the treatment effectiveness by not washing your hair for at least three days after the treatment and by using keratin after-care products that are sodium and sulfate free and enriched with keratin.


What about hair breakage?

We are going to bust some myths here. The hair breakage is never a result of the keratin treatment. It’s about the flat iron. An iron that is too hot will weaken the hair, and it will break. Chemical alterations start to happen in hair with temperatures above 320 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celsius). Spend the money and get a high-quality professional flat iron so you can set the temperature according to your hair type.  If your hair is very thin, bleached or damaged, choose a low-temperature setting.


Should I be worried about formaldehyde?

Yes and no. Some brands of keratin treatments have formaldehyde, some don’t. Some don’t list it in their list of ingredients because there is no formaldehyde in the product, until you add heat. Formaldehyde is a question of exposure and sensitivity. Most concerns about formaldehyde exposure are in relation to professionals who are working in environments where keratin treatments that contain formaldehyde or generate formaldehyde as part of the ironing and blowout phases of styling are used in high volume. Professionals working in high volume salons need to be aware of how much molecular formaldehyde is in the air at work. As you can imagine, 8 hour days with formaldehyde in the air is not good for you. However, if you are a customer or a hair stylist who works with a keratin treatment only once in a while, formaldehyde should be of little concern to you. Having said that, everyone has their own body chemistry so, of course, if you feel any irritation or develop a rash, discontinue the use of the keratin treatment immediately.


When applied correctly, Brazilian Keratin treatments provide a long-lasting, beautiful straightening effect.  Upon purchase of any keratin treatment, read all documentation and instructions provided. Basic methodology for application is as follows:

  1. Prepare hair: Wash hair with a deep cleansing (anti-residue) shampoo. Do not condition.
  2. Towel dry.
  3. Section hair.
  4. Apply the treatment. Comb to ensure complete and even distribution. Let the treatment rest for the time suggested by the manufacturer.
  5. Blow hair dry.
  6. Section hair.
  7. Flat iron.
  8. Do not rinse (or wash the hair the same day if the instructions say so).

Remember to always follow the directions carefully. And when in doubt, do not hesitate to contact a hair professional.