My Journey: Relaxers to Natural to Keratin
LIFE CHANGING! To say a keratin treatment is life changing, I’ll admit sounds a little bit dramatic. But if there is one beauty secret I swear by, hands down no diggity, it is a keratin treatment. To put things into perspective, if they stopped making them, I would cry real tears (Real life!)
Over the years, for most of my preteens through early 20’s, I was a slave to the creamy crack (a.k.a. Relaxers). Relaxers were absolutely horrible for my hair but I knew no other way of “managing” my hair. During my relaxing days, my hair was constantly begging for moisture, it was brittle, coarse and thin. Not to mention, growing my hair to the “bend in my neck” was quite an accomplishment. Sad!
I went “natural” (no creamy crack) by pure accident. No Big Chop and no conscience decision, it was just a lucky accident. Bored and indecisive in life, I cut my hair really really short. Once again, bored and indecisive, I decided to “give my hair a break” from constant manipulation, and try my first weave. After 6 weeks and to my amazement, my hair had really really grown. Awesome! One small problem, I was 85% natural. My stylist at the time convinced me to let her flat iron my new textured hair.
Fast forward to about 7 years later… my natural hair journey continued to be maintained by blow-dryers, roller sets and flat irons. I honestly loved my natural hair, it was stronger, healthier and grew a little bit longer than the relaxed version. Only problem, I was starting to dread the lengthy process of washing, drying and flat ironing my hair. To make things worse, my hair suddenly became randomly frizzy. WEIRD! Ugggggh! Back to the weave I went while I cheered professionally. Once the season was over, I couldn’t remove the weave quick enough. I was OVER IT! So, I decided to give the keratin treatment a try that my stylist had been raving about. To my complete surprise, the results were amazing! and they surpassed any expectations I formerly had.
Why Keratin Protein?
Keratin is a protein found naturally in your hair. Over time, your hair looses keratin due to styling and color treatments. Which in turn causes damage and frizz. Keratin treatments patch and fill-in the divots that have developed in your hair shaft with the naturally occurring keratin protein that strengthens it.
Over time, your hair losses keratin
That’s Great, but What are the Benefits of Keratin Treatments?
Longer, stronger hair (who can’t get excited about this?). Other benefits have included: a reduced drying time (Amen), increased hair elasticity and natural curl softening (boing!), moisture retention (bye, bye dry hair), less porosity, virtual frizz elimination and humidity resistance (a MA-JA southern miracle), less heat needed with styling tools.
The Process: How a Keratin Treatment is Done
All of that sounds amazing but what’s the process? Not gonna lie, the process can be a little bit detailed; however, you want a stylist that really takes their time caring for your hair. First is a very intensive clarifying shampoo wash followed by a light (low-heat setting) blow-dry. Next, the keratin is carefully painted onto the hair in very small sections and is left to process. After the processing time is complete, the hair is not rinsed but blown-dry once more in preparation for flat ironing. Keratin-coated strands are divided into very small sections for an intricate flat ironing session. Each small section of hair is flat ironed from root to end with multiple passes of about 7-8 times to bond the keratin into the strands.
How Long Does a Keratin Treatment Take?
Roughly, 2 1/2 hours (depending upon length and density of your hair).
After Care: The First 72 Hours
Brace yourself. For the first 72 Hours there are a lot of “Do Not’s” that must be followed in order for the keratin to set properly.
Do not wet the hair, Do not bend the hair, Do not curl the hair, Do not push the hair behind the ear, Do not place the hair in a ponytail, Do not clip the hair and etc. Are you starting to see a pattern here? Basically, wear your hair down for 72 hours. *My stylist gave me the green light on lightly wrapping my hair in a silk scarf at night for bedtime.*
Keratin Treatment Maintenance
The 72 hours is done. Woohoo! So, now what???? Simple, say it with me, “Sulfate-Free is for me!” Make sure to use a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner for maintenance. Shampoos and conditions that contain sulfates will strip the keratin from the hair.
How Long Does a Keratin Treatment Last?
Varies from person to person. I receive a keratin treatment 3-4 x’s per year with trims every 6-8 weeks.
Myths: Embalming Fluid, No More Curls & 2 Weeks
1. ALL Contain Dangerous Formaldehyde: Are Keratin Treatments Safe?
Formaldehyde? Like what they embalm people with? No thanks, I’m good! But as crazy as it sounds, formaldehyde is found in the air we breathe; however, inhaling large amounts of formaldehyde at one time can be very dangerous to you and your stylist’s health.
Not all keratin treatments are created equally. Brazilian Blowouts and less expensive brands keratin treatments have been found to contain an excess of 10% formaldehyde. YIKES!
2. “I Heard Keratin Treatments Cause Heat Damage and Break Your Natural Curl Pattern”
*Note: In my personal experience* No, In fact, I have had quite the opposite effect. My natural curls are much softer and elongated (translation: less shrinkage).
3. Keratin Treatments are Temporary and Only Last a Few Weeks
Well, that would be a lot of time and money for only 1 month. Depending upon your hair and the desired results you are trying to achieve, it is not unrealistic for a keratin treatment to last about 5 months.
What is the Cost? Are Keratin Treatments Worth It?
I’m not gonna lie, keratin treatments can be a bit costly. With that said, if they ever stopped making them, you’d probably find me in a back alley some where looking for a hit of keratin. Hopefully, it’ll never come to that but I’m sure you get the picture.
Be prepared to spend $300-$800/ per treatment at a salon. *pricing will very from city to city.
Things to Remember:
Do your research. Not all keratin treatments are created equally and not all stylist specialize in healthy hair and keratin treatments.