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View Full Version : Keratin chemical treatments--what's the real story?



Alex Lou
September 6th, 2018, 11:45 AM
So many people have good luck with keratin straightening and smoothing. So many people claim it's not damaging. But I have the splits to prove that it damaged my hair severely from 1 treatment. Splits that start at my ears from the treatment 1.5 years ago.

Despite this, I want so badly to smooth out the random curly hairs that come out of the top of my head. I want so badly to smooth out the wavy texture at the back of my head that always looks frizzy. Genetics and hormones have given me straight hair for my underlayer, a nice wave through most of my hair, but tightly coiled or kinky hairs in other places, often popping out among the wavy hair. I want to put my hair in a bun and not have coily hairs sticking straight up from the top of my head. I want to wear my hair down and not have the back of my head look frizzy. To be clear, I love curly hair and think I would be happy if my hair were all curly, or any relatively consistent texture.

So I'll probably try keratin again. Why did it damage my hair so badly? I do think I used too much product, which may be the culprit. I had my iron set to 360F as advised by experienced members and would set it lower next time. I used the quality recommended product. Does someone have some info about how exactly the chemicals changed the structure of my hair leading to splits?

Sorry to members who have seen me complain about my texture for years and never accept what is natural to me. Acceptance is definitely the best advice.

lapushka
September 6th, 2018, 05:16 PM
I have "unruly" hair as well. Sometimes it ringlets underneath, or up top (where-ever it wants to do that), and other times, right by my face. It puzzles me. And other times, I have none of that and it's as flat as a doormat.

Are you sure about the Keratin treatment? Maybe give yourself 2 weeks (2-week rule). This ensures that you're really set on it and that it is less of an impulse.

cathair
September 6th, 2018, 05:23 PM
If I recall correctly, which I might not, it's not the keratin that causes the problem. It's the other chemicals + heat that does the damage.

I think we have a similar hair texture, though yours is much thicker. Could a heavy dose of cones and blow drying it straight not give a similar effect with the right technique? It would be a lot less damaging.

Alex Lou
September 6th, 2018, 06:02 PM
I have "unruly" hair as well. Sometimes it ringlets underneath, or up top (where-ever it wants to do that), and other times, right by my face. It puzzles me. And other times, I have none of that and it's as flat as a doormat.

Are you sure about the Keratin treatment? Maybe give yourself 2 weeks (2-week rule). This ensures that you're really set on it and that it is less of an impulse.
Well I've been thinking about it for one and a half years since the last treatment. I'm not sure I'd do it while pregnant anyway. Formaldehyde free or not, the stuff is clearly toxic. So we're talking sometime in 2019 that I might do it. I always follow the 2 week rule now. :)

My hair doesn't form ringlets. Its just random hairs in isolation spiraling up on their own. And those specific hairs are never straight unless heat is used. They're very stubborn and coarse as well.


If I recall correctly, which I might not, it's not the keratin that causes the problem. It's the other chemicals + heat that does the damage.

I think we have a similar hair texture, though yours is much thicker. Could a heavy dose of cones and blow drying it straight not give a similar effect with the right technique? It would be a lot less damaging.
I'm useless with a blow drier. It also takes a looong time to dry. Even hair dressers seem to have a problem with how long it takes with the blow drier. My hair is thick, but not super thick, so I think it may have to do with the porosity of my hair (or rather, lack thereof). I'm just not up for the task. I could simply iron my trouble spots after it dries.

I do pile on the cones which works really well. I'm 90% happy with my hair texture after cones and heatless smoothing techniques.

cathair
September 6th, 2018, 06:12 PM
I can kind of understand that. I hope you find the information you need and something that works for you.

lapushka
September 6th, 2018, 06:13 PM
Well I've been thinking about it for one and a half years since the last treatment. I'm not sure I'd do it while pregnant anyway. Formaldehyde free or not, the stuff is clearly toxic. So we're talking sometime in 2019 that I might do it. I always follow the 2 week rule now. :)

My hair doesn't form ringlets. Its just random hairs in isolation spiraling up on their own. And those specific hairs are never straight unless heat is used. They're very stubborn and coarse as well.

Is it really that bad if it's just a few hairs? Just putting it into some perspective. Maybe it's even unnoticeable in the vast mass of hair? Oh you'll for sure beat the 2-week rule then. LOL Plenty of time to decide. Wishing you a great pregnancy. :flower: :)

ebillan
September 6th, 2018, 06:32 PM
With my siblings in me, my older sister ended up with straight hair, me with curly hair, and my younger sister sounds a bit like you - but hers is straight in the sides, and all curly just in the back. She just straightens it, but I guess you're looking for a more permanent solution!

I had a keratin treatment done at the salon a long while ago which worked amazingly for my hair. My hair felt shinier and healthier than ever, I don't remember any split ends - but I did also get a trim right after it was done, so perhaps it was damaging after all and it just got snipped off! My hairdresser even told me that the treatment is often used on people with bleach-damaged hair to restore some life to it.

Have you looked at different brands for the treatment? I'm sure there's some variation to the chemicals added in, there may be something in the one that you used that your hair didn't like?

Ylva
September 6th, 2018, 06:50 PM
Maybe consider going to a hairdresser to get the treatment done? Unfortunately it costs a lot more, I know, but it could save you a lot of damage. I think Olaplex can also be used with keratin treatments, so that would prevent damage, too.

Alex Lou
September 6th, 2018, 07:07 PM
Is it really that bad if it's just a few hairs? Just putting it into some perspective. Maybe it's even unnoticeable in the vast mass of hair? Oh you'll for sure beat the 2-week rule then. LOL Plenty of time to decide. Wishing you a great pregnancy. :flower: :)
It's really not that bad or I wouldn't go out in public like this every day. It's more than a few hairs. But they're separated from each other by wavy hairs so they can't clump together to form curls. They're all at the top of my head so it gives the surface of my hair a frizzy appearance. I'll try to get some photos.


With my siblings in me, my older sister ended up with straight hair, me with curly hair, and my younger sister sounds a bit like you - but hers is straight in the sides, and all curly just in the back. She just straightens it, but I guess you're looking for a more permanent solution!

I had a keratin treatment done at the salon a long while ago which worked amazingly for my hair. My hair felt shinier and healthier than ever, I don't remember any split ends - but I did also get a trim right after it was done, so perhaps it was damaging after all and it just got snipped off! My hairdresser even told me that the treatment is often used on people with bleach-damaged hair to restore some life to it.

Have you looked at different brands for the treatment? I'm sure there's some variation to the chemicals added in, there may be something in the one that you used that your hair didn't like?

I'm glad you had a good experience. I suspect these products all cause some damage; are all damaging. I think I may have noticeable damage because I used too much product. Like how you can use a 20 vol developer and damage may not be noticeable, but use 40 and the hair is more likely to be fried. I've read that all the keratin treatments use formaldehyde or formaldehyde-like chemicals and that's how they work. I'm not willing to try another product. I already spent enough money on an expensive product that isn't really working out for me. And I have no evidence that these products are substantially different from one another.

Alex Lou
September 6th, 2018, 07:18 PM
Maybe consider going to a hairdresser to get the treatment done? Unfortunately it costs a lot more, I know, but it could save you a lot of damage. I think Olaplex can also be used with keratin treatments, so that would prevent damage, too.

Part of my problem is I don't trust a hair dresser with an iron. So many of them crank up the heat. Yikes! It also costs about $400 per treatment? So if I needed to do it every 3 months, that's over $1500 per year. I have the disposable income, but I can't imagine spending that much on my hair.

I've read about olaplex but I'm not convinced that it's worth the cost and trouble. My problem with these products (keratin included) is there isn't much information out there that isn't trying to sell the product. I don't have unbiased info. Anyway, I may not like my splits, but they really aren't noticeable.

Ylva
September 6th, 2018, 07:30 PM
Part of my problem is I don't trust a hair dresser with an iron. So many of them crank up the heat. Yikes! It also costs about $400 per treatment? So if I needed to do it every 3 months, that's over $1500 per year. I have the disposable income, but I can't imagine spending that much on my hair.

I've read about olaplex but I'm not convinced that it's worth the cost and trouble. My problem with these products (keratin included) is there isn't much information out there that isn't trying to sell the product. I don't have unbiased info. Anyway, I may not like my splits, but they really aren't noticeable.

Indeed, if you need to get it done that often it does add up a bit unnecessarily much.

I'm a regular user of Olaplex and can tell that it has made a world of difference for me.

priinnz
September 6th, 2018, 07:40 PM
Hi Alex Lou,
Hope you do find something to help with hair. I too have straight hair with frizzy bits on top. I have often wondered about getting a keratin treatment myself, but am afraid to put my hair through damage.

Can keratin deep conditioning mask help? I found that HASK kertain deep conditioner did help me to some extent, especially with frizz. But not sure how it compares to salon treatment

priinnz
September 6th, 2018, 07:49 PM
Not sure how to edit the above post, but I should mention "ocassionally "deep conditioning, like once in a couple of weeks. Too afraid to use more frequently due to previous mishap with a different protein shampoo.

Ylva
September 6th, 2018, 08:08 PM
Not sure how to edit the above post

For future posts, you can find the "Edit Post" button in the lower right corner of your post. :) But I am unsure if there is a minimum post requirement for editing one's posts.

Alex Lou
September 6th, 2018, 08:31 PM
Indeed, if you need to get it done that often it does add up a bit unnecessarily much.

I'm a regular user of Olaplex and can tell that it has made a world of difference for me.
I'd like to believe that it's a great treatment. I guess I'm just not ready to try out another "miracle" product. Anyway, if keratin treatments necessitate using another chemical treatment to reconstruct my hair, I kind of feel like I just shouldn't use the keratin treatment, you know?


Hi Alex Lou,
Hope you do find something to help with hair. I too have straight hair with frizzy bits on top. I have often wondered about getting a keratin treatment myself, but am afraid to put my hair through damage.

Can keratin deep conditioning mask help? I found that HASK kertain deep conditioner did help me to some extent, especially with frizz. But not sure how it compares to salon treatment
What's your definition of frizz? I wouldn't call mine frizz although it looks frizzy. It's actually curly follicles doing their thing. I don't think it will be tamed with any topical treatment any better than my heavy cones already do. But I'll keep it in mind the next time I want to experiment with conditioning treatments.

Alex Lou
September 6th, 2018, 09:13 PM
Well I found this:

"The mode of action of the formaldehyde is different from the others relaxers because formaldehyde or other aldehydes are not hair straightening products. The hair is remodeled straight because water breaks hydrogene bonds of the keratin molecule as happens in a regular blow-dry. The newly redesigned keratin is then kept in this shape because the formaldehyde crosslinks the keratin filaments in such a perfect alignment that the hair is now set straight and shines like no virgin straight hair is capable of. The light that strikes the hair reflects from the realigned keratin filaments and brings the effect of a brighter shiny hair. A study by Simpson and Crawshaw[60] which analyzed the reactivity of formaldehyde and wool keratin, found that formaldehyde forms cross-links with the keratin amino acids; arginine, lysine, tyrosine, histidine, and the amide derivatives of aspartate and glutamate."

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4387693/

And the more I read about how toxic the chemicals are, the more I think I should just throw it in the trash.

Ylva
September 6th, 2018, 09:15 PM
I'd like to believe that it's a great treatment. I guess I'm just not ready to try out another "miracle" product. Anyway, if keratin treatments necessitate using another chemical treatment to reconstruct my hair, I kind of feel like I just shouldn't use the keratin treatment, you know?

Olaplex is definitely not a miracle treatment and I think it's unfortunate that some people advertise it as such, because it does work, but people expect it to do things it's not supposed to do. It does one thing (reconnect broken disulfide bonds in the hair) and that's it, it's not something that will miraculously help hair suffering from anything and everything, but it is the only plex out there that I trust and value. It's just an option to consider IF you decide to get the keratin treatment.

Alex Lou
September 6th, 2018, 09:33 PM
About health concerns:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5500027/
"Our results showed that plasma levels of formaldehyde were significantly higher in women who were diagnosed with miscarriage than those who delivered at term and higher levels of formaldehyde was an independent risk factor for miscarriage, with higher levels being associated with higher risk of miscarriage. Our results provide evidence of risk of development toxicity in human when exposed to indoor pollutants.

Indoors, formaldehyde is mainly emitted from building and household materials such as pressed wood, carpet, and furniture.[7] In our study, although there was no significant difference in occupation and home decoration status between the groups, levels of formaldehyde were still significantly higher in women with miscarriage. "

And more:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21787879

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4260452/

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/repro/formaldehyde.html

lapushka
September 7th, 2018, 05:09 AM
It's really not that bad or I wouldn't go out in public like this every day. It's more than a few hairs. But they're separated from each other by wavy hairs so they can't clump together to form curls. They're all at the top of my head so it gives the surface of my hair a frizzy appearance. I'll try to get some photos.

I think I get what you're talking about now. But it's always nice to capture something like this on photo. If you could (no must) that would be awesome. Probably we can all tell you it's not that bad, but I get it... if something truly bothers you no matter what other people say... it still bugs you. :)

MissMuse
September 7th, 2018, 07:47 AM
Ive had it done 3 times at a hairdresser. It did damage my hair, and while it looked good for 3 months it was too expensive and damaging to be a regular thing

Synester
September 7th, 2018, 11:43 AM
in the long run...keratin treatments are doing more damage that what appears to be good, (defeating your frizz maybe) Sure. once done..it will tame the wildness...till it wears off or your natural growth starts to come in. then your left with hair frizzier than before all of the treatments.
its not a good permanent solution, at least I dont think so.
learning to tame your natural hair shape pattern and what products make it look best seems cheaper too.

Alex Lou
September 7th, 2018, 03:24 PM
I think I get what you're talking about now. But it's always nice to capture something like this on photo. If you could (no must) that would be awesome. Probably we can all tell you it's not that bad, but I get it... if something truly bothers you no matter what other people say... it still bugs you. :)
It's good to be understood! It truly is a minor issue. And like everything else having to do with beauty, is completely unnecessary.

I also get bugged by other people's comments occasionally, even here on LHC. Being asked why I don't iron my hair, being told that it looks dry and I need moisture (no moisture will make the curly stuff curl more, actually), being told that I should try x expensive conditioner. When I got my hair cut the other day, the stylist was flustered that my hair wasn't laying nicely after she was done and started slathering it with a leave-in. I was trying to explain to her that some of it was just curling because she had sprayed it with water but overall my hair isn't/doesn't look curly.


Ive had it done 3 times at a hairdresser. It did damage my hair, and while it looked good for 3 months it was too expensive and damaging to be a regular thing
Do you know how hot the iron was? I'm curious if it was the heat or the chemicals that caused the damage. The claim quite often made is that the damage is caused by the heat and if you turn the iron down low, your hair will come out healthy-looking. I found this not to be true.

Alex Lou
September 9th, 2018, 12:17 PM
Okay, prepare for photo spam.

Here's a selection of my shed hairs showing off different textures. I actually didn't know I had the curly ones on the top, so I guess that texture doesn't bother me:
https://forums.longhaircommunity.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=33277&d=1536513228

This is the back of my head. The surface layer only is extremely wavy. But it doesn't clump together to make defined waves. It's actually not that bad, because after bunning for a while it gets smoothed out and behaves:
https://forums.longhaircommunity.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=33276&d=1536512642

Here's my underlayer. I'm guessing It's about a 1b. About a third of my hair is this way:

https://forums.longhaircommunity.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=33272&d=1536512567

Alex Lou
September 9th, 2018, 12:24 PM
My fringe and side of my head is mostly smooth as well but coarse, maybe a 1c:
https://forums.longhaircommunity.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=33273&d=1536512588

But sticking out, I find these extremely coarse hairs:
https://forums.longhaircommunity.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=33275&d=1536512621

https://forums.longhaircommunity.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=33271&d=1536512545

And this is the top of my head when I wear my hair up or back, when it bothers me the most:
https://forums.longhaircommunity.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=33274&d=1536512603

cathair
September 9th, 2018, 12:52 PM
I see what you mean now.

Have you ever tried hair wax? I'll just throw that out there as another nonpermanent solution. A little bit rubbed between the palm of your hands them smoothed over your hair might be though to tame them.

Understand you may still be looking for a more permanent solution though. Must be frustrating when the major does behave the way you want.

MusicalSpoons
September 9th, 2018, 01:20 PM
I do see what you mean. I also have a sprinkling of coarse curly hairs, though most of mine are not on top. I think it would be hard to do something to target those in your hair because they are so few; if you wanted I'm sure there are many different types of gel or holding product you could experiment with, that would be nice and non-damaging - natural/DIY or commercially available.

(Heh, I was going to mention more moisture if you wanted to try to possibly make the wavy parts clump together to form waves, but from your post above I see you already know that :wink: )

I love your hair colour, btw :crush:

Alex Lou
September 9th, 2018, 02:21 PM
And here's one more because this is what I just saw when I looked in the mirror:

https://forums.longhaircommunity.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=33280&d=1536520724

Alex Lou
September 9th, 2018, 02:45 PM
To be fair, what I want is a hard to obtain ideal that is probably based on seeing so many women with blow dried or ironed hair.


I see what you mean now.

Have you ever tried hair wax? I'll just throw that out there as another nonpermanent solution. A little bit rubbed between the palm of your hands them smoothed over your hair might be though to tame them.

Understand you may still be looking for a more permanent solution though. Must be frustrating when the major does behave the way you want.
I have never tried hair wax. I remember my brother using it when he was a teenager and I think it makes the hair greasy? My brother has a full head of that coarse curly/kinky hair and we both had pin straight hair as kids. I do prefer the look of clean hair especially since I like to wear my hair down. I use some conditioner to smooth the top of my hair down when I wear it up for work, but then I can't wear it down again after I do that.


I do see what you mean. I also have a sprinkling of coarse curly hairs, though most of mine are not on top. I think it would be hard to do something to target those in your hair because they are so few; if you wanted I'm sure there are many different types of gel or holding product you could experiment with, that would be nice and non-damaging - natural/DIY or commercially available.

(Heh, I was going to mention more moisture if you wanted to try to possibly make the wavy parts clump together to form waves, but from your post above I see you already know that :wink: )

I love your hair colour, btw :crush:
Thank you :) I just put Feria rose gold over my golden strawberry blonette and this is how it came out.

I think I will use keratin again. I just don't care as much about the splits or breakage as I care about having smooth hair and I've already invested in the product. In the meantime, I will probably experiment with the iron.

I have the best hair days when the weather is unusually dry. I did try curly girl years back and it didn't turn out well. I suppose I could try a curl cream and maybe I would get more definition in the back. But I'm happy with the way my hair is overall with the way I style it and don't really want 2c in the back, transitioning to 1c/2a in the front, and 1b underneath.

lapushka
September 9th, 2018, 03:45 PM
Oooh photos! :)

I have that to a more minor degree (and not all the time), except when I have it, it's usually entire "clumps" or bigger locks of hair in a different texture.

It does make it look like there are "wiry" hairs that just do what they want. I get why it bothers you so much, especially if it's in the short bits framing your face (bunning).

cathair
September 9th, 2018, 03:49 PM
You should only need the tiniest amount really, like a finger nail scrape for an entire head. Spreading it over the palms of your hands helps apply it in a really thin layer. If you use a heavy amount like when kids spike their hair it will look greasy.

Alex Lou
September 9th, 2018, 05:11 PM
Okay, I'll get some wax and try it out.

I think I'll try curl cream and plopping again too. It has been a long time since I tried to encourage tighter waves. Being an admirer of wavy/curly hair it would be fun to wear my hair more wavy sometimes if it's possible to naturally get a wave pattern that I like.

MusicalSpoons
September 9th, 2018, 06:43 PM
I don't know what your current routine is so you may already be doing it, but I've found simply double conditioning for a few months has taken my under layer from 1b to 1c, plus washing the lengths twice a week instead of once. (It's still really cheap despite quadrupling the amount of conditioner I use, because I usually buy 400ml bottles of various cone-free conditioner for 1 :grin: )

Alex Lou
September 14th, 2018, 09:15 AM
I tried to encourage my hair to wave after washing it last night. It's still damp this morning. The stuff coming from my temples/hairline formed big, loose, beachy spirals. Which is a cool texture, but way too much around my face when the rest of my hair isn't doing that. The underlayer is about a 1b as I thought. The back and is about a 2a, not as wavy as I thought and the frizzy stuff did clump. All the random coarse curlies are blending in better since my hair has more volume up top. Sorry, no photos since my kid has the phone and I have to tame this craziness so I can go about my day.

I think my overall impression is that coaxing waves out of my hair in a way that I like is just too much effort. My current "straightening" routine is simple and easy and works well with my hairtype(s).

I did try ironing the area with the curlies only. I think maybe it's just too hard to get close to the root because they would just stick out straight instead of sticking out curly. I decided it wasn't worth the effort trying. I also remembered how nervous it makes me to have a hot iron out with a small child around which is a big part of why I put the iron away in the first place.

I have decided to ditch the keratin. I may sell it or give it away. Inhaling formaldehyde/releasing it in my home just isn't something I'm willing to expose myself or my children to for quite a few years since I'm pregnant, will be breastfeeding, will have small children after that. Deciding not to use keratin again makes it easier for me to accept the curlies since there's nothing I can do to change them.