Everything You Need to Know About Getting a Keratin Treatment

It's one of the easiest ways to get smoother hair.

The back-view of a person with long, straight brown hair who is wearing a blue shirt
Photo: Lyuba Burakova/Stocksy

Just like contouring, and balayage highlights, keratin treatments are yet another topic that stays trending in the beauty world.

While it's completely normal and natural for certain hair types and textures to be more prone to frizz, if you personally prefer a smoother finish, a keratin treatment may be something you want to look into.

That's why we asked hairstylists Abraham Sprinkle and Rebecca Hiele to give us a crash course on everything there is to know before getting the treatment. And most importantly, how to maintain your hair post-salon visit.

What Does a Keratin Treatment Do?

"Keratin treatments fill in the porosity of your hair, as overly-porous hair causes tangles, frizz, and breakage," Sprinkle explains. "Your hair is made up of keratin, so the treatment is putting the protein back into the hair, which is often lost due to age and chemical services."

Hiele adds that keratin treatments seal the added protein back into the hair with controlled heat, which gives your hair that smooth, frizz-free finish.

What Should You Expect from a Keratin Treatment?

Traditionally, keratin treatments used harsh chemicals like formaldehyde to straighten the hair and get rid of frizz. Today, there are alternatives on the market, like Goldwell's Kerasilk Control Intensive Smoothing Mask, that get rid of frizz without altering your hair texture.

"This is why many treatments were taken out of the marketplace," says Hiele. "A smoothing treatment needs to work, but also needs to be healthy, so now those harsh ingredients are not allowed."

Depending on what type of treatment you choose, it can be customized so that it takes away the frizz while maintaining your hair texture. Or you can go completely straight, if that's what you want.

What Hair Types Does a Keratin Treatment Work Best On?

These treatments are safe for all hair types and colors. However, if you're a blonde, make sure to consult with your stylist before taking the plunge.

"Some treatments with glycolic acid can shift the tonality of hair color, so a thorough consultation on these points is crucial," Sprinkle says. "If you are a blonde, see if the salon has a treatment for lighter hair colors."

Treatments can be customized according to your hair texture, notes Hiele. For instance, you can opt for a completely straight finish or a smoother version of your original texture.

How Long Does a Keratin Treatment Last?

Typically, a treatment can last up to three months, but it depends on the formula. For example, Goldwell's Kerasilk Defrizz service is a more express treatment that gives you four to six weeks of frizz-free hair while its Kerasilk Keratin Smoothing service lasts three to five months, depending on how often you wash your hair.

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What Do You Need to Do Post-Keratin Treatment?

What you can and can't do to your hair immediately following a treatment depends on which treatment you get. With some formulas, you can't wash your hair or tie it up for at least 48 hours after your initial appointment.

However, once you're in the clear, you may have to take a closer look at the ingredients in your shampoo and conditioner lineup. "Sulfate-free formulas are the key to longevity," says Sprinkle. "A manufacturer's shampoo will prolong it due to the fact that research has been done so that the shampoo doesn't counteract the treatment."

For treatments without any downtime, you can go about your usual haircare routine and even indulge in a same-day blowout. As with any salon service, talk out the details with your stylist before getting a treatment so that you know exactly how to maintain it.

Do At-Home Keratin Products Give You the Same Results?

While a keratin-smoothing shampoo will add some keratin protein to the hair, it won't be as impactful and long-lasting as a salon treatment done by professionals.

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