Is the Brazilian Keratin Treatment Bad for You?

September 21, 2015

Is the Brazilian Keratin Treatment Bad for You?

As a woman, I know what most women want. Today’s women strive for the "perfect" hair. They want silky, smooth and frizz-free hair. To obtain this, some women use keratin treatments. Despite the fact that the keratin treatment has been popular for several years, women still do not seem to know the answer to one simple question: Is the keratin treatment bad for you?

Keratin Q&A

Before we delve into that, what is keratin? Keratin is a protein that's naturally in your hair. The process of straightening hair with a keratin treatment involves the following steps:

A stylist applies a keratin hair-straightening product to your hair and then uses the heat of a flat iron to seal it in. The process takes about 90 minutes or longer, depending on your hair's length. It can last up to two or more months. In addition, the keratin treatments won't make your hair break, but the flat-ironing might. The heat from the iron can burn the ends of your hair causing them to break.

According to "Keratin hair treatments are controversial because some contain/ contained formaldehyde [...which] has been linked to certain cancers." In order for a keratin treatment to produce that shiny, frizz-free hair for months on end, it is explained that it "must contain formalin (formaldehyde) or another aldehyde or a chemical that works in a similar fashion."

Personally, I have always had a problem with frizz but I have never done the keratin treatment. I usually try to find simple alternatives, like a spray or hair cream. I wanted to see what a professional had to say in regard to the health risks of the keratin treatment. New York City hairstylist and makeup artist, Jenn Gil, will not do the keratin treatment for clients.

“It's a personal choice since a lot of the treatments have formaldehyde,” she says. “If not used properly, this chemical can cause irritation on eyes, skin and nasal cancer.”

She also adds that  it “affects a lot of stylists, not the client.” She prefers using other products to help minimize the frizz. “I have some of my clients do home treatments [using] avocado, egg, olive oil and mayo. Frizz usually occurs when the hair is dehydrated so these natural oils help with that,” she explains. She also loves the John Frieda frizz-ease products as a temporary day fix. “I am a pro-healthy hairstylist so I will always find a way to treat everyone's hair with the care it deserves,” says Gil.

Based on all these findings, let’s see the pros and cons of the keratin treatment:

Pros of Keratin Treatment

First, it’s a unisex treatment, so guys are more than welcome to enjoy frizz-free hair as much as their female counterparts.

Second, it allows more styling options and a reduced amount of time spent working on your hair. As any curly-haired girl knows, sometimes you need to blow dry straight just for a good starting point for a style; with the keratin treatment, your hair is ready all the time.

Last, there is less time and money spent on upkeep in general. Keratin treatments can last up to six months, which is a pretty long time to not have to straighten or blow dry your own hair. Regular salon visits will be few and far between, leaving more money in your pocket over time.

Keratin Treatment Cons

For one, the FDA does not fully approve of the treatment. The Food and Drug Administration does not support keratin treatments from a health or safety standpoint being that the main ingredient is formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a chemical that can result in serious short-term effects on people who use treatment.

Next, the treatment can alter the hair’s structure. When one adds chemicals to curly and frizzy hair, it can change the hair’s fundamental structure.

And finally, the lack of experienced professionals to apply the treatment. Finding an experienced technician who is able to apply the treatment correctly, while also easing all of your concerns, can be challenging. There can be many complications if the keratin is not applied carefully by someone with high experience.

Based on my research, I would say use your best judgment when deciding to get the keratin treatment or not. I personally don’t recommend getting the keratin treatment, but the choice is ultimately up to you. To me, natural is better, and less is always more.

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