Everything You Need to Know About Getting a Keratin Treatment for Hair

Experts break down the popular de-frizzing process.


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Despite its heavy price tag and hours-long timeframe, the keratin hair treatment, also referred to as the Brazilian keratin treatment or a Brazilian blowout, has been growing in popularity for its ability to deliver silky-straight strands with some serious staying power. 

“When I am asked about the greatest products or tools I have used or experienced, the keratin treatment is at the top of my list. It’s a dream come true for anyone who wants to manage or smooth out frizzy, curly, or wavy hair,” says Charles Ifergan, hairstylist and founder of Charles Ifergan Salon.

From upfront costs to aftercare, we asked experts to help us break down everything you need to know about achieving and retaining this low-maintenance, high-luster style. 

What is a keratin hair treatment? 

A keratin hair treatment is a process that helps straighten and smooth frizzy or damaged hair. Keratin itself is a fibrous protein that the body produces naturally and acts as a protective shield against humidity (what causes frizz). Over time, the hair loses keratin from things like sun exposure, styling, and chemical services. Keratin treatments essentially fill in the gaps where keratin has been depleted, so that hair looks and feels healthier.

As for the process itself, Soekoro says a keratin hair treatment will typically begin with a hairstylist cleansing the hair to adequately remove residue that could inhibit the formula from saturating the hair.

"The formulation is applied to the pre-dried hair or wet hair, depending on the type of treatment used. Acidic treatments, which often lift the color shade of the hair and can be drying to the cuticle, are typically used for virgin, non-processed hair where clients are looking for very straight results, whereas milder, water-based treatments that don’t lift the color are typically used on processed hair where clients are looking to reduce frizz,” he says.

Soekoro notes that acid treatments are typically applied to wet hair and rinsed out, whereas water-based treatments are typically applied to dry hair and left in. Lastly, hair is flat-ironed to achieve the client’s desired results. 

What are the results of a keratin hair treatment?

With a proper process and care, experts say you can typically benefit from smooth, shiny, and manageable hair that lasts around three to four months. 

“You will notice a difference in your hair’s texture after the first shampoo,” says Metzger. “Then, after about 12 weeks or so, you will typically notice that the hair is a little less smooth and some of the frizz has returned, at which point you may consider repeating the treatment.”

“The keratin liquid that gets sealed in the hair washes out a little bit with each shampoo. By using gentler formulas and shampooing less frequently, you can extend the efficacy of the treatment,” adds Ifergan. “Conversely, some of the keratin formula will likely remain in your hair, with each application cumulative for a greater effect.”

Who should get a keratin hair treatment? 

According to Ifergan, a keratin hair treatment is most valuable for “those who want to remove frizziness and decrease the volume created by these factors.”

"I recommend it to clients who want to deflate their hair, without losing their natural curl pattern,” adds Pancho Soekoro, hairstylist and founder of Panca Salon. “It’s also great for those who are looking for a low-maintenance style or trying to get through the growing process following a bad haircut.”

How much does a keratin treatment cost?

“Prices can vary depending on which salon you go to and where you live, with treatments usually ranging from $300 to $600,” says Deaundra Metzger, an Atlanta-based celebrity hairstylist and former salon owner.

Soekoro adds that costs can increase based on additional length and thickness, or decrease when targeting certain areas “such as the bangs, crown area, face frame, and so on.”

Can you do a keratin treatment at home?

Yes, but don’t expect salon-level results. And be wary about the treatment you use—while some treatments contain the word “keratin,” it doesn’t automatically make them “keratin treatments.” You’ll want to make sure the product you’re using is intended to be used as an actual keratin treatment, like Keratin Research Brazilian Keratin Hair Treatment ($40; amazon.com), and not a standard conditioning product with keratin. Also, keep in mind that since the products you’re using aren’t professional-grade, results will likely wash out after a few weeks (whereas professional treatments can go for a few months). 

How do you care for a keratin treatment? 

To get the most out of your treatment, Metzger advises avoiding harsh shampoos leading up to your appointment, as they can deplete hair of necessary nourishment and dry out the hair. “For example, clarifying shampoos can strip natural oils in order to provide that ‘squeaky clean’ effect. You’ll also want to avoid using conditioner in the two days prior to your treatment, as it creates a coating that can serve as a blocker to the keratin treatment.”

After the treatment, Metzger says you’ll want to avoid washing hair immediately or using any hair products to allow the keratin product to sit in. 

“Wait at least three days before you shampoo, ideally using a sulfate-free formula. You'll also want to avoid touching, styling, or using hair accessories to prevent denting, along with products that contain alcohol or salt, which can serve to dehydrate and dissolve the keratin from your strands,” says Metzger. “Proper care can help you avoid further damage to your hair.”

Is there anything else to consider for a keratin hair treatment? 

As with any hair service, our experts advise consulting with a professional hairstylist who has specific training and experience in performing keratin hair treatments to ensure optimal results, especially when it comes to processed or damaged hair.

“Highly bleached or color-treated hair may require a gentler formula with gentler use of the flat iron and lower heat settings,” says Ifergan. 

Given the use of chemicals (specifically formaldehyde), Soekoro also advises against the treatment for those who are currently or trying to get pregnant. “And in general, the treatment should only be done in an environment with a negative pressure exhaust system, carbon filtration, or outdoors. Otherwise, the formaldehyde gasses can remain in the air for hours.”

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