I’M NOT SO VAIN or egocentric as to put my keratin treatments on a par with, say, world peace. But when a beauty treatment saves me about 45 minutes each time I do my hair, I have to gush! Another bonus—I no longer have to worry about the weather when I leave the house.
My thick, curly hair tends to frizz if I don’t get it bone dry with the hairdryer. You know the type; some might describe my hair as a “Jew-fro” if I were to let it dry naturally. And while people tell me that my hair is one of my best assets, that’s only because of the hours each week that I spend, painstakingly dividing my wet hair into sections and then pulling with the round brush as I blow each strand to a completely arid state.
I am a P.O.W., a prisoner of wetness. God forbid I should get caught in a rain shower or high humidity! That’s when I look like I stuck my finger in an electrical socket—undoing all my hard work. I can remember trips to Florida where, with the simple act of deplaning, I could literally feel my hair kinking up and frizzing as soon as the humidity hit me. My drawers are filled with hoodies for those days when I might be caught in a slight misty drizzle. I’d almost rather be soaked than be misted. Isn’t it better to look like a drowned rat than an electrocution victim?
So when Katy Ghirardo, my colorist at Christophe, told me I would benefit from keratin several years ago, I skeptically told her to go for it. I couldn’t believe the result: hair so smooth and frizz-free like I had only dreamed of. Literally–I’ve had dreams where I had perfect, low-maintenance hair. I had to wait three days to wash it, but when I did, I could dry it in 10 minutes and achieve that smoothness by just blow-drying while upside down, using a special brush.
Ghirardo uses Keratin by Coppola, and back then there was some debate about the formaldehyde in all keratin treatments. Formaldehyde opens the hair shaft so that keratin, a protein, can infuse the hair with its nutrient goodness; it makes the hair shaft more resilient. Other options include the Brazilian Blowout and La Brasiliana. Your stylist may have a favorite. Ghirardo prefers the more expensive Coppola; she says the cheaper brands are more watery.
“Stylists who choose Coppola must go through [Coppola’s] training, which teaches you to determine which product to use depending on the client’s hair type,” Ghirardo says. “One of the other brands sent me a free trial; they had no training, which I don’t think is good.”
You want your stylist to understand the best product for your hair’s texture. The looser your wave, the straighter your hair will become, and though the application technique differs from thick to thin hair, both hair types will benefit. Even people who already have straight hair may turn to keratin to eliminate frizz and boost shine.
So with about four years under my belt, I am an avid keratiner, and I believe my hair has never been healthier. But the process is not cheap—about $350 for the full three-hour keratin application, which lasts four to six months, and $150 for the 11/2-hour express, which lasts four to six weeks.
If you also color your hair, you would do it at the same time because both procedures open the hair shaft, or you must wait two weeks if you prefer to separate the two. And it’s best to get your hair cut with the keratin treatment because the straightness will affect the way it lies.
No doubt it is an investment, and in order to make it last as long as possible, I take steps to maintain the keratin:
For the first three days I can’t get my hair wet in the slightest—no sweat, no mist, no dampness from the shower. Also, if I want my hair to be straight after this three-day period, I have to keep it poker straight with a flat iron each morning during this period.
When I wash my hair, I can use only products that do not contain sulfates or sodium.
If I go swimming—either in salt water or chlorine—I wash my hair as quickly as possible.
But I consider these a small price to pay for the time saved and my new carefree attitude about the weather. Oh, and I can get rid of those hoodies!
– Jodie Klein
Formaldehyde and all similar chemical formulations needed to bind the keratin to the hair are considered safe ingredients but may pose a health hazard when heated during the process–although this hazard is usually greater for stylists, who have more frequent and greater exposure, than for the clients. (According to the Coppola website, their treatment contains a small amount of “aldehyde,” one of the chemicals that become formaldehyde gas when heated.) Health risks from these formulations include skin irritations, watery eyes and, in extreme cases, cancer. Keratin treatment should be avoided by women who are pregnant.
A Huffington Post blogger who had a keratin treatment wrote that a week or so later, her hair felt gummy and tacky and began falling out in “large globs” in the shower. She visited a dermatologist who explained that hair loss can result from all kinds of stress, including a treatment like keratin that “traumatized the hair root,” but that the damage is not permanent.