To Keratin or not to Keratin
Updated: May 1, 2018
Are you the (sometimes) proud owner of naturally curly/wavy/frizzy heads of hair ? If so, you probably hear "Oh my gosh, I LOVE YOUR CURLS!" or "I WISH I had hair like THAT!" or (my personal fave) " 'll bet you just wake up and go with hair that fabulous!"
Little do they know how much effort goes in to making those locks look so fantastic. And on the days you don't put the time in, or Mother Nature decides to rain on your parade, or you put in a half a teaspoon less of whatever magical concoction you've finally discovered that (sometimes) works, or your kid (or dog, or goldfish~ WHATEVER) needs something and your hair dries just moments longer than usual before you get your magical concoction applied, those days can mean TRAGEDY to the same hair that earned you countless compliments yesterday.
If any of this sounds familiar, you've probably wondered about, or even tried, Keratin Smoothing Treatments. They sound like a godsend to those of us with curly/wavy/frizzy hair. If you're unfamiliar with the treatment, it's a service done in-salon that infuses keratin (hair's primary component) and conditioners into the hair through a process that starts with a deep clarifying shampoo, application of this magical solution, blow dry and VERY thorough flat ironing using extremely high heat and as many as 10-12 passes on each tiny section of hair. That magical solution is very expensive and the length of the process all results in an investment for both the stylist and the client. The reward is smoother, shinier, humidity resistant hair that can last as long as 4 months.
Sounds dreamy, right? Now let's talk consequence. Any keratin treatment that can actually smooth your hair and lend those dreamy results don't work and won't last without the assistance of a little chemical called formaldehyde, or a derivative of it. Even "formaledehyde free" systems contain something that turns back into formaldehyde when hit with the high heat of the flat iron that's necessary when perfoming these services.
Yes, we're surrounded by formaldehyde all day every day. Our bodies even produce it to some degree. However, the gas that's released during these treatments often results in burning throats, itchy/watery eyes, and as if that's not enough, the World Health Organization has classified formaldehyde as a potential carcinogen and cautioned stylists against using these treatments.
It has taken me WEEKS of research and struggling with whether or not to continue to providing these services in my salon. I've gone down the rabbit hole from every angle. And they all lead to this: NO. I've exposed myself, my coworkers and my clients enough. It's been a controversy for a while, and I turned a blind eye in disbelief. But there's just too much evidence to ignore anymore.
I feel like a drug dealer that got my clients hooked on the high of smoother, frizz free hair and then yanked it out of their grasp.
I'm confident that it won't be long before a savvy chemist in our industry will stumble upon a way to tame our tresses without causing cancer. There are advancements constantly being made, and new products being offered. I'll continue to read and try new things. But until I'm confident that a new product is worth the investment and won't put myself, my coworkers and clients at a health risk, keratin treatments won't be offered by me.
So what's a wavy/curly/frizzy girl to do? I think that's the next blog post: caring for your curls. Until then, don't fear shampoos, conditioners and styling products that impart LOTS of moisture and maybe even arm your hair with some humidity repelling silicones. GASP I said it, try the silicones. They may just be the answer to your smaller hair dreams, at least in humid climates. As I said in the previous post, just be sure to use REAL shampoo occasionally and get them off . Follow that up with a good deep conditioner and start fresh with your stylers. Maybe you know silicones aren't for you, GREAT! Keep those curls quenched by sticking with those rich, hydrating conditioners. Probably a good dose of protein will help balance it all out too. Stay tuned. This topic is going to be around a while.