Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ask Hair Kitty Kitty

Brazilian Keratin Treatments

I am all about learning as much as I can about new hair care processes. I like to use a common sense approach when I try a new product, get my hair professionally styled, or when I try new techniques at home.

I want to encourage my readers to do the same. Do your research! I cannot stress that enough. If you want to try something and it doesn’t feel like the right thing to do based on your personal research, then you may want to strongly reconsider trying it out. To answer the questions of my readers, I like to use a pro vs. con analysis.

So, one of my college buddies texted me this question:

Q:     Speaking of hair, have you heard anything about Keratin hair treatments, good or bad? I want to lay off relaxers, but I’m not ready to go completely natural. I want to know some good alternatives.

Here’s my take on the Brazilian Keratin Hair Treatments:

Keratin is a strong protein made of amino acids. Our hair, teeth, nails, and skin are naturally made of keratin. The amino acids that form keratin have their own unique properties and can be hard like our teeth or soft like our skin.
Brazilian Keratin Treatments are also known as Brazilian blowouts, Brazilian smoothing treatments, Brazilian hair straightening, and Keratin hair treatments. Brazilian Keratin Treatments are one the latest trends in hair straightening, even for black hair. Some black women are using this method in addition to relaxers or to replace relaxers to tame frizz and straighten curly, coiled, or wavy textures. If used correctly, the Brazilian Keratin Treatment effectively fills in the gaps and weak points of the hair.

The method will temporarily straighten and smooth the hair by applying a liquid form of keratin and various levels of formaldehyde (a colorless, pungent, strong smelling gas used in many building materials and to form household products). The solution is dried onto the hair and sealed with a flat iron. The formaldehyde is used to hold the keratin molecules together, thus keeping your hair straight. In others words, it is provides a protective layer of protein around the hair shaft.

The process:
  1. The hair is first shampooed, usually with a clarifying shampoo
  2. The hair is then conditioned
  3. After conditioning the hair, it is  towel-dried or blow dried and divided into sections
  4. The Brazilian Keratin Treatment is applied and combed through the hair; it is not placed on the scalp, similar to the application of a relaxer
  5. The hair is then dried with the treatment on it. Next, the hair is “blown out” with a hand held blow dryer
  6. Then the hair is flat-iron using an extremely hot professional straightening iron. It passes through one section of hair about 6-10 times depending on the thickness of the hair.
On average the results of the Brazilian Keratin Treatments last about 2-3 months. The cost ranges from $150 per professional treatment to $600 per professional treatment, depending on the stylist and the length of your hair. The process takes about 90 minutes to 2 hours. There are at-home Keratin straightening systems, but it is advised that you allow the treatment to be performed by a licensed hair care professional.

It is best for the stylist and the client to wear a mask during the application process because of the strong chemicals that are used. There are formaldehyde-free versions, but they contain a chemical with similar properties as formaldehyde. It is also recommended that you do not wash your hair until about 3-4 days after the treatment, because it takes time for it to settle in your hair. When you decided to wash your hair, it is best to use sulfate-free shampoos, so you do not strip the treatment from your hair. Before getting one, consult with your stylist and a health care professional to discuss the potential risks.

Now, the Analysis Pros vs. Cons
Positives                                                                                              Negatives

Gives hair a silky straight appearance and it lasts for 2-3 months
Excessive Heat Used
Smooths cuticles & Reduces frizz
Formaldehyde can cause cancer
Contains less chemicals than a relaxer
Lots of tugging  & pulling on the hair during the blow dry and flatiron phase
Claims that it will not break hair bonds and alter the structure of the hair as a relaxer does.
During treatment, you may experience symptoms such as watery eyes, burning throat, and a terrible cough

Strong, unpleasant odor


Can loosen curl pattern over time because hair becomes heat trained


Watch this video to see a Brazilian Keratin treatment performed:

The Breakdown (My analysis)
Should you try this?

Like a wise man once told me, if the negatives outweigh the positives, use with caution.

First, I question the use of formaldehyde. With prolonged exposure, formaldehyde is associated with certain types of cancer. Also, the short term effects of some individuals are watery eyes, burning throat, and coughing/wheezing which can be extremely uncomfortable. Who wants their eyes to water and throat to burn just to get a hairstyle. Ask yourself, “Is a temporary beauty treatment really worth you risking  your health”?

Moreover, I would not try it because I feel that our hair is too delicate to undergo excessive combing and tugging, and excessive heat styling (blowdryer, hooded dryer, then flat iron). If your goal is to have healthy-looking hair then the long term effects of this treatment can put a roadblock in your process. It is not worth the risk of damaging your hair. My advice would be to develop a solid and consistent hair regimen and alternate between thermal styling and protective styling (protective styles are great to retain length).

I would say a good alternative to a relaxer is to simply go natural. Do not be afraid. You do not have to do the big chop. You can successfully transition into your natural texture without wearing your hair in a kinky style.  If you prefer it straight invest in good products: shampoo, deep conditioner, leave-in conditioner, moisturizer, heat protecting spray or serum, a blow dryer, and a  good ceramic flat iron. Hair can burn between 400-451 degrees, depending on the texture of your hair.  Please use the flat iron seldom. Flat-iron hair on a low or medium heat setting. Other suggested styles are roller setting or rod sets, where little heat can be applied in between flat iron use, pin-curling your hair, twist & dry styles, and braid outs using the tension method (will discuss in future post).

Have you tried the Brazilian Keratin Treatment? What were your results?

If you are considering a Brazilian Keratin Treatment, I hope this information was useful.


Hair Kitty Kitty

I am not a medical doctor, dermatologist, cosmetologist, nor a licensed professional. I conduct my own research and give my opinion based on my analysis. I do not receive compensation for my opinion on any product or procedure. Please exercise caution when starting any new hair regimen or chemical procedures. If you have questions about how a particular product or treatment will effect or interact with your medicine, your scalp or your skin, please contact a health care professional. The reader will assume the responsibility of using the process discussed.

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