From taming frizzy strands, to adding extra shine, keratin seems to do it all and is a key ingredient in many products. We caught up with Sonya Raubeson, the National Education Director of Keratin Complex, to find out what the wonder protein really does. “Keratin smoothes the hair shaft for stronger, shinier, more manageable hair,” Raubeson said. “Even if you don’t have curls, the protein makes your strands healthier by restoring elasticity and reducing breakage.” Read on to see if a keratin treatment is right for you, and shop the keratin-rich products we love!
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What is a keratin treatment?
Think back to a simpler time, before flat irons and hair dyes created a reason to give your strands extra TLC: A keratin treatment (prices vary by salon; keratincomplex.com for locations) restores your hair back to that untouched, healthy state. “The advanced formulation restores and restructures hair by infusing a special blend of natural keratin deep into the damaged cuticle,” said Raubeson. “There are treatments for every hair type, but overall, hair becomes softer and healthier.”
How do I know if it is right for me?
If you want a super-shiny blowout like Kate Middleton, Selita Ebanks, or Emma Stone, minus the hour spent toiling over your hair, then a keratin treatment is right up your alley. Drying and styling time is cut in half, and although thick, curly textures will see the most significant difference, all hair types can benefit from the treatment. “Even women with straight hair deal with frizz and effects of losing your own natural keratin,” Raubeson said. “As we age, style, and are exposed to environmental factors, we deplete the natural keratin from our hair, which makes it lose its luster. The treatments and keratin-infused products return your strands to a youthful state.”
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Every product seems to have keratin in it. What does it really mean?
What’s in a name? If you’re using a product with the wonder protein as a key ingredient, then everything. “Keratin makes hair healthier without breaking the bond-meaning your strands still have body and curl without the frizz.” Raubeson said. Although using a shampoo or conditioner infused with keratin isn’t the same as actually getting the treatment, damaged strands, or hair that is frequently heat-styled can benefit from the ingredient. Suave’s Keratin Infusion Dry Shampoo ($5; drugstore.com), Frederic Fekkai’s Fortifying Hair Mask ($49; fekkai.com ), and TIGI’s Deep Restoration Shampoo ($30; tigihairreborn.com for locations), are all among our product must-haves.
Is it safe for color-treated hair?
Not only is a keratin treatment safe for dyed strands like Rihanna’s, Jessica Biel’s, or Christina Hendricks’s-it actually helps to enhance your hue. “The treatment locks in color, making it more vibrant and intense,” said Raubeson.
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What kind of products should I use after getting the treatment?
Steer clear of products that contain sulfates, as well as shampoos and conditioners with sodium chloride. These elements cause the treatment to wear off faster, leaving you with a two to three month wear time, as opposed to the typical four to six months. Swap out your products for more gentle options, like Jonathan’s Smooth No-Frizz Shampoo and Conditioner ($18 each; jonathanproduct.com), which have hydrolyzed keratin added to their formulas.
Are there any at-home alternatives I can try in my spare time?
No time to call your hair stylist? Don’t worry. The Keratin Perfect Hair Essentials Collection ($95; sephora.com) comes with everything you need to take the smoothing treatment home from the salon. Although it doesn’t last as long as its salon counterpart, the five-piece system is perfect for prolonging your smooth strands between appointments.
I already have straight hair, but want to try a treatment that creates the same high-shine results.
Although keratin treatments work well on every hair type, booking an appointment for super-fine hair might be overkill. Instead, opt for Sebastian’s Cellophane treatment (prices vary; sebastianprofessional.com for salons), which create a covetable glossy shine, and can be fine-tuned to enhance specific tones in your hair color. Afterwards, use the Trilliance Shampoo and Conditioner ($13 and $14; sebastianprofessional.com) to keep your strands shining.
What happens if I use a product with sulfates on my treated hair?
If you accidentally grab the wrong product in the shower, don’t fret. Although sulfates and sodium chloride cause the treatment to wear off, you can replenish the keratin in your hair by loading up on products rich in the protein. “We recommend using Keratin Complex's Intense Rx ($61; keratincomplex.com),” Raubeson said. “This reinvigorates the hair with keratin and emollients, and revitalizes hair during thermal styling.” Another option we love: Sally Hershberger’s Super Keratin Spray ($13; ulta.com), which can be used to soften damp and dry strands alike.
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