Monday, April 23, 2012

My Love Affair With Keratin

Keratin treatment aka Brazilian Blowout aka Keratin Express aka BKT.  There are many different names but it all boils down to one key ingredient - keratin.  Keratin is the main protein in your hair, nails and skin.  This process was introduced in the US as an alternative to the more permanent (and some say harsher) Japanese Termal Straightening.  However, it soon came to light that the real secret ingredient that made it work was formaldehyde.  So much for a natural treatment.  So they started marketing formaldehyde-free formulas.  But, the tricky little buggers used chemicals very similar to or, in some cases just renamed, formaldehyde.  Brazilian Blowout was one of the worst offenders.  Now, call me crazy but I tend not to worry too much about chemicals in products.  First of all, I smoke.  I'm pretty sure there is nothing worse I can do.  Second, I think the FDA does a pretty good job of regulating these things.  Already, companies are changing their formulas to comply with consumers wishes. 

From what I can tell, the formaldehyde is what makes it last.  Formulas with lower amounts don't last as long.  That's why Express Treatments were introduced.  It's also why the new over-the-counter products only last about 30 days.  That is about as far as my research on Keratin Treatments has gotten me.  Now, on to the actual products!

Back in June, I tried the otc Organix Brazilian Treatment.  I thought it worked pretty well but, in the end, I couldn't stand the sickeningly sweet smell for the two days I couldn't wash it. 

Luckily I spottted a Living Social deal.  $122 at Salon DB in Arlington.  I bought it and called as soon as the voucher came through.  They were able to see me the Saturday of the same week.  I need to give a quick shout out to the salon.  They were great before I even walked in the door.  The owner called and asked me about my hair and told me about the treatment.  They use La Brasiliana which comes as a spray.  He let me know it was for 2 ounces and there would be an extra charge ($50) for each ounce over that.  I am used to this because my hair is long and thick but really appreciated hearing about it upfront.  When I got there, they washed my hair several times and put me under the dryer for what was supposed to be 20 minutes.  There's no way my hair will dry that quickly so it ended up being the longest step in the process.  She then sprayed the solution on my dry hair and blew it dry with a paddle brush.  Then she straight ironed it.  The result was beautiful.  The smell wasn't bad at all.  It did make my eyes burn and water some while she was putting it on but I just kept my eyes closed until it was dry.  I did not buy their complementary shampoo and conditioner but was told to use ones without sodium chloride.  I continued using my Alterna products.  However, after a couple of weeks, it seemed like my hair wasn't as smooth any more.  Especially if I let it air dry.  I read the ingredients and saw that it had other kinds of sodium so I stopped using it (I still haven't gotten a clear answer on whether it's only sodium chloride or any kind of salt that is a problem).  I switched to the Organix shampoo and various conditioners that met the parameters.

As I felt the treatment going away, I saw a deal on Groupon.  $149 at Gilda's Salon.  I bought it but I wasn't able to get in for a month.  So, I turned to the internet to see if there was something that could help.  In my research on BKT, I came across a few well-known brands, including Coppola's Keratin Complex.  Although you can't legally buy the treatment online, you can buy the supplementary products.  I chose the Vanilla Bean Deep Conditioner (because...hello?  Yum) and the Intense RX Repair Therapy because it got great reviews.  I only used the conditioner twice and it was very nice and the smell was incredible but then decided to save it until after my next treatment.  But I used the RX serum right away and I was not disappointed.  Even though it only works until the next shampoo, it works really well.  You just apply it to wet hair and blow it dry.  You can always use a flat iron to make it even smoother but, the whole point for me is to lessen the time it takes to do my hair.

So last Saturday, I went to Gilda's and got my treatment.  I was the only customer and that was nice.  They use the Anevolve system.  I always do a little research ahead of time and was excited about this.  They claim it is 100% formaledehyde-free (and indicate that includes all forms of it).  She washed my hair several times but this one was applied to wet hair.  She went through each section and applied it with a brush.  I was not charged any extra for my hair length.  After, she blew it dry with a paddle brush and then straight irnoned each section.  The result was even better than before.  It was amazing.  My hair was so shiny and smooth.  I'd never seen it like that before.  And it didn't feel like it had as much on it as it did after the first treatment.  I decided to go all in and get their shampoo and conditioner.  I washed it after 2 days and let it air dry.  I wasn't crazy about the shampoo.  They say it is a low-sudsing formula but it was more like no-sudsing.  And a lot of hair came out during the first wash.  After 2 washes, my hair was smooth but looked a little greasy.  I decided to go back to the Organix shampoo with the Anevolve conditioner.  This was Saturday night.  I let it air dry and then straightened it.  Although it stayed pretty smooth even though it was raining, it was not quite as good as I had hoped it would be.  And then this morning, as I was drying it I noticed breakage at the top!  What??  This is not good.  I don't wear my hair in ponytails and I didn't notice it before the treatment.  I am going to stop using their shampoo and conditioner because I feel like it doesn't do enough.  I want to be able to run my fingers through my hair without getting snagged.  Although they told me that they would honor the Groupon price for a 2nd treatment, I am leery of going back there now.  I will wait and see how it goes over the next month.

In general, I think the treatments work.  Be advised though, this is not really a straightening treatment.  It is a smoothing treatment.  Which is great if that's what you want.  What I want is silky, straight, wash-and-go hair.  Is that too much to ask?  For now it seems like it is but I'm getting closer.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bare Minerals SPF30 Natural Sunscreen

I have been remiss and I am going to start catching up with one of my new favorite products.  This powder formula contains Micronized Titanium Dioxide to protect against UVA/UVB rays.  It comes in a round tube only 4 inches high and 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  You take off the cap and twist the bottom to extend the brush.  To get the make up on the brush, you twist to "open," turn in upside down and shake until the powder appears on the brush.  I was a little skeptical of this because I've tried a few other products with this concept (at least one was a sponge instead of a brush) and they didn't work very well.  This comes out very easily.  Once you have enough on the brush, turn it back to "buff" and apply it to your face using a circular motion.

I haven't had occasion to really test out the sun protection properties, I just like it as a powder.  I also have not used it on my body which it says you can do.  Since I carry it in my purse though, I'm sure I will at some point when I am in a pinch.  I love the way it goes on and seems to melt into your skin.  If you get too much, just keep using the brush to blend it in.

There are some cons but, personally, nothing that would stop me from using it.  1) It only comes in 3 shades.  Even though it is a sunscreen, it does have color and if you get the wrong one, it will show.  If you aren't sure, go lighter.  I couldn't find a release date but it may be a newer product so hopefully they will come out with more shades.  2) There is a tendency for a small "cloud" to form while applying and, if you breathe it in through your mouth, it's a little irritating to your throat.  Apparently Dr. Oz has weighed in on this issue  I don't think the small amount you might get by inhaling a little while applying is really going to make a difference.  Of course, I don't worry much about the chemicals in beauty products although whether out of naivete or stupidity, I'm not sure.  3) No mirror.  You almost don't need one but...almost.

I think the pros outweigh the cons.  I lightweight, portable sunscreen that also helps your skin look good?  Yes, please!  I have a bad habit of not removing my make up on the weekends and with this, I haven't noticed any breakouts.  The brush, besides being retractable, is removable for easy cleaning (something else I have yet to do).  It's hard to tell how much is in the bottle (?) but a little goes a long way so I think it will last.  Whether or not you spend a lot of time in the sun, I recommend trying this product.