Just like contouring, strobing, and ombre highlights, keratin treatments are yet another topic that stays trending in the beauty world, and if one of your BFFs has ever tried it out, chances are, she has yet to shut up about the magic it worked on her hair. If blowing out your strands feels more like playing tug-of-war, you could benefit from its smoothing results, though the variety of in-salon and at-home versions can make the world of keratin slightly harder to navigate. That's why we asked hairstylist Abraham Sprinkle to give us a crash-course on everything you need to know before getting the treatment, and most importantly, how to keep it intact long after your salon appointment. First things first, determine if your hair type is right for the service—curly and frizzy textures will see the most benefits, whereas fine, straight strands should avoid it altogether.
That being said, what does a keratin treatment actually 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."
Because it is essentially rebuilding the damaged areas, you can expect to see an increase in shine, less frizz, and an easier styling process overall. Make sure you have a consultation with your stylist beforehand to determine the best formula, particularly if you are a blonde, as every keratin treatment isn't created equally. "Some treatments with glycolic acid can shift the tonality of hair color, so a throrough consultation on these points is crucial," Sprinkle tells us. "If you are a blonde, see if the salon has a treatment for lighter hair colors."
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This aspect may be lost with the at-home alternatives, which can be considered a one-size-fits-most version to the salon's bespoke treatment. "The at-home services will not give a customized result," Sprinkle says. "The difference between the two comes down to the quality of the keratin, and a professional knowing exactly what type of treatment works best for your hair."
Immediately following your treatment, make sure to invest in a dry shampoo—in order for the keratin to live up to its promises, you aren't allowed to wash your hair, or tie it back in a ponytail holder for at least 48 hours. You'll also need to take a closer look at the ingredients in your current 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. But as far as any keratin-infused shampoo, if the product contains sulfates, it has no benefit for your hair." Get a recommendation from your hairstylist, or opt for one of Keratin Complex's shampoos, as the brand has an in-salon treatment used by most stylists. If you do your homework and use the right after-care products, your treatment should last at least two months, possibly more depending on your hair type, and how often you choose to lather up. Like any relationship, it will require commitment and perhaps a slight amount of Internet stalking on your end. Sprinkle says: "It's important that you research everything about the treatment you are considering, and understand both the maintenance and post-regimen routine."