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“Get The Facts on Keratin Treatments” by Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams

Get The Facts On Keratin Treatments

by Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams

Keratin is the building block of hair. It is a natural protein found within the structure of the hair strand. It binds to hair, reinforcing the structure, strengthening the hair, creating a shinier appearance and ultimately promoting healthier hair.

Keratin Treatments claim to not only provide stronger shinier hair strands, but also tempt curly girls with the promise of reducing frizz with a straighter look that can last up to 3 months and not damage their curls.

Fact check: Keratin does not straighten the hair.  Therefore, there are chemicals in the product that are creating a straight hair strand that can ultimately lead to excessive breakage and hair loss if you are not careful.

Formaldehyde was the active ingredient that had a lot of manufacturers of Keratin Treatments under fire because the product was causing harm to the professionals who inhaled it and created health risks for the consumers. As a result, “formaldehyde-free” treatments have been introduced the market. A lot of consumers are being misled with this advertising. While they are hoping to get a healthier alternative to the straightening treatment, the truth is—they are not. These products contain glutaraldehyde (or glutaral) or glyoxal which are another form of formaldehyde and a part of the aldehyde family. These chemicals assist in the process of straightening the hair. These chemicals are carcinogens and are not good for humans to ingest or have repeated or long term exposure to through touching or breathing. Other companies who promote smoothing or keratin treatments may not use these specific chemicals but other compounds in the aldehyde family of chemicals. When these chemicals are heated past 420 degrees they have a similar chemical reaction, as would traditionally based formaldehyde. In addition, the heating tools used to seal the product into the strand are so hot; alone they can cause damage and breakage to the hair strand.

These products are not FDA approved and there are reported allergic reactions on the scalp and hair loss. Unlike relaxers and perms that chemically and permanently alter the bonds in the hair strand to produce a straight hair, the aldehyde compounds in keratin treatments sit on the strand and is slowly washed away every time you shampoo. The problem with this is you are walking around with a head full of formaldehyde (or some form of it) for weeks.  You are sleeping with, eating next to, and absorbing this chemical until your next shampoo or two. Unlike other chemical processes that are on the hair a short time and stop after it is properly shampooed and rinsed out, there is an ongoing chemical reaction taking place in your hair with the “keratin treatments.”

I advise you to understand all of the risks associated with Smoothing and Keratin Treatments before choosing them as a temporary styling option. I know some women who have no complaints and get great results, but this is not guaranteed for everyone. Anytime you apply heat to your hair you are taking the risk that your curls may not return consistently throughout your head.  I know that a lot of curly girls want to preserve their curls, so this treatment may not be the way you want to go.

Check out this article on the problems some consumers encountered with a Keratin Treatment: http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2013/10/class-action-lawsuit-unilevers-keratin-smoothing-kit-heads-trial/

Dr. Kari Williams is a Trichologist, Licensed Stylist and Natural Hair Care Specialist. Learn more about Dr. Kari at www.drkariwilliams.com

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{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Tracy November 5, 2013, 5:17 pm

    I recently put the Smooth ‘N Shine Polishing Keratin Power Hair Tamer kit in my daughter’s natural hair. I did not see any -aldehyde or glycols listed, but I am not chemist. I do not want her hair to fall out, and she refuses to wear braids or other natural styles to school. This was an alternative to hot pressing/flat ironing her hair every week. Which of these ingredients seem problematic to you?

    Protein smoothing treatment ingredients: water, cysteine HCL, ethanolamine, sodium bicarbonate, urea, hydroxyethylcelluse, ethanolamine thioglycolate, ppg 1 peg 9 lauryl glycol ether, decyl glucoside, hydrolyzed wheat protein, hydrolyzed keratin, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, propylene glycol, etidronic acid, polyquaternium 7, hydrolyzed silk, fragrance.

    Neutralizing milk ingredients: water, cetearyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, etidronic acid, dimethicone, polyquaternium 37, ceteareth 30, cetrimonium chloride, sodium hydroxide, propylene glycol dicaprylate/dicaprate, dimethicone, hydroxycetyl hydroxyethyl dimonium chloride, 2,6 dicarboxypyridine, ppg 1 trideceth 6.

  • Sarah Anna November 6, 2013, 2:43 pm

    I have looooved your videos for so long! It’s so encouraging to get to see someone going through a wonderful natural hair journey! I just got the courage to start a blog of my own where I hope to document my natural hair journey as well as style and artwork! I would LOVE for you to check it out and tell me what you think! I hope you’ve been having a great week!


  • Strands of Beauty November 27, 2013, 8:48 am

    Thank you for sharing. We need to know the truth about all of the different fads in “hair care”. We as women need to be sure to take the time to educate ourselves on hair treatments to see what it really means and to know if it is really beneficial for us or if it is a facade. So many times we look for a quick fix instead of taking the time to actually learn all we need to know about the pros and cons of a matter… in more than just hair even!

  • Mary June 9, 2014, 12:25 pm

    Very interesting. Learned something new because of this. Thank you for sharing this article. Have a nice day! :)

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