Whether you’re looking to cut down on daily hair care or try a new style, keratin treatments will do the job. While straight irons and relaxers are popular options, keratin treatments offer a smooth texture and vibrant color for months at a time.

To help you decide if this hair care treatment is right for you, we’ll explain what it is, the pros and cons, and what to expect when getting a keratin hair treatment.

What is a keratin treatment?

A keratin treatment is a chemical procedure that makes your hair straighter and more lustrous. The process targets keratin, a protein found in nails, skin, and hair. Formaldehyde solution is used to break down chemical bonds in the hair and reseal them in a straighter position. The process may take a few hours, but you’ll have smooth, silky hair for up to six months.

Unlike some procedures, keratin treatments work well on most hair types, including natural and treated hair. Some people opt for it because they want to reduce frizz or boost their natural shine. Others want to cut down on blow-drying and straightening their hair every day. But whether you want a new style or convenience, keratin hair treatments are a great long-term solution. 

What happens during your appointment?

Depending on the length of your hair and the substance used to break down keratin particles, treatments can take a few hours. Your hair technician will begin by washing your hair to make sure it’s free of any residue. The stylist will then apply their formula to your wet hair and comb it through. After two to four hours, your technician will flat iron and blow-dry your hair to shape and seal the treatment with a humidity-resistant finish.

Benefits of keratin treatments

While there are plenty of hair straightening treatments on the market, few match a keratin treatment’s return on investment. Compared to alternatives like daily hair straightening and harsh relaxers, keratin treatments offer exciting benefits, including: 

A two-column chart lists the pros and cons of a keratin treatment

Shiny, smooth hair

Keratin treatments smooth out the cells and porous gaps in our hair. People who receive this service leave their appointments with straight, glossy hair. Few other options enhance shape and color at the same time. A talented stylist can even use it to improve the look of split ends by fusing hair back together. 

Easier daily care

Some people love the look of thick, curly hair, but it’s no secret that this texture can take a lot of upkeep. If you want to shorten your daily routine and prevent hair from tangling, a keratin smoothing treatment will straighten your hair texture. Not only will it cut blow-drying time in half, but it will make your hair less susceptible to humidity. 

Long-lasting style

Depending on how you maintain your hair, keratin treatments will last for three to six months. For anyone who wants a stylish sheen and smoother hair for months at a time, this treatment is the best option. As an added benefit, your hair will appear longer because the strengthened ends won’t break off as often. 

Potential downsides of keratin treatments

For all of a keratin treatment’s benefits, there are some downsides to consider. While some customers can avoid these hurdles, not everyone will have the same opportunity to do so. With that in mind, anyone considering a keratin treatment should think about the time and money they’ll have to invest. The cons of a keratin treatment include:

Formaldehyde side effects

Most keratin treatments involve formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. If any hair touches your face during treatment, it can lead to irritation in the nose and eyes. People with a sensitivity to formaldehyde may also experience irritation on their scalp.

Make sure your keratin treatment takes place in a well-ventilated room to avoid irritation. Some stylists get around this issue by treating hair with other substances like glyoxylic acid. Keep in mind that most of these alternatives come at a higher cost or result in permanent straightening. 

Keratin treatment cost

Depending on your stylist and place of residence, keratin treatments cost between $300 and $500, excluding the tip. By contrast, short-term relaxers and hair straighteners may cost less than $50. Unless you have plenty of cash to spend, carefully review whether this treatment is worth the price of admission. 

Changing hair routine

Getting the most bang for your buck means taking care of your hair. After a keratin treatment, customers may have to rethink their hair care routine from the ground up. Avoiding high temperatures, especially in some areas during the summer, may pose a problem. Exposure to chlorination and salt water will also cut down on how long your treatment lasts. 

Keratin treatment: before and after your appointment

A woman’s hair before and after a keratin treatment. After the treatment, the hair is smoother and brighter.


How to prepare for your appointment

Keratin treatments require careful preparation. You should speak with your stylist about your natural hair care before going to your appointment. If your stylist uses formaldehyde, you should also make sure you aren’t sensitive to it. Women who are pregnant should also note that keratin treatments may adversely affect pregnancy.

Keratin treatment aftercare tips

After your appointment, proper hair care is a must. The duration of your keratin treatment shortens if you don’t treat your hair properly. Some aftercare tips include:

  • For three days after the treatment, avoid washing or touching your hair more than necessary. This allows the product and hair shape to set in.
  • Washing your hair more than two or three times a week will cut down on a treatment’s length. A sulfate-free shampoo will also help maintain your new style.
  • Overusing a flat iron, especially right after your treatment, may cause excess hair damage.

Frequently asked questions about keratin treatments

Does keratin affect hair growth?

Keratin doesn’t affect the rate hair grows, but it can change your hair’s appearance. Because proper treatment keeps hairs from breaking off, it will seem like your hair grows faster. On the other hand, messing with your hair after an appointment may cause it to thin. Because keratin treatments affect the scalp, too much pressure or friction may cause hair loss. 

Can people with natural curls get keratin treatments?

Keratin treatments work for people with all hair types, including curly hair. Some stylists think curls react better to keratin than straight hair. Because curled hair reflects less light on its own, curly-haired customers will notice even more shine after their appointment. 

Will keratin affect color-treated hair?

A keratin treatment will make colored hair even brighter. That said, timing is key if you want to make your hair color even more vibrant. Most technicians recommend getting your hair colored right before your appointment. This way, you’ll seal in the vibrant color and make it last longer. 

How is keratin different from relaxers?

Keratin treatments and relaxers both straighten your hair, but they have different aftereffects. Keratin loosens curls for up to six months, after which your hair returns to normal. Relaxers permanently change a hair’s structure — while this makes it more effective on coiled locks and tight curls, it can cause greater damage to your roots and scalp. 

Are keratin treatments DIY-friendly?

Anyone can perform a keratin treatment on their hair, but the effects won’t last as long. DIY kits typically are not as strong as professional-grade products and only contain the chemicals needed to coat your hair. Without the tools you’d find at a salon, DIY treatments don’t completely reform your hair’s cells. As a result, DIY keratin treatments only last a week or two.

DIY treatments also pose a greater risk, even if they cost less. If you mishandle the chemicals, you could damage your hair. And if you apply keratin in a poorly ventilated area, you risk inhaling too much formaldehyde. 

How to find a keratin treatment near me

While it comes with a few downsides, no other straightening option provides all the benefits of a keratin treatment. Smooth, vibrant hair that lasts for months at a time rarely comes from one service. But because of long appointment times and the number of alternative straightening options, not all stylists offer keratin hair treatments.
When it comes to finding the right hair technician, we’re always here to help. Look through our community of stylists to schedule a keratin treatment near you today.

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