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.


  1. How did it feel after a few uses? I use the shampoo and conditioner from Anevolve. I am in two minds about the straightening treatment. How is the straightening different from smoothing.

  2. I wasn't thrilled with it and never went back for the second treatment. I was too concerned with the breakage. Most semi-permanent treatments are only "smoothing" because they don't break down the bonds in your hair (which is why they are less harsh). They won't give you completely straight hair but will take out some of the curl and are supposed to make even curly hair less frizzy. Hope that helps :-)