Keratin Treatment

Keratin Smoothing Treatments

Keratin Treatments

Let's face it. Some of us were born to have frizzy hair. Especially when you live in a region that tends to see more humidity in the air, you're hair will tend to be even more frizzy. What's worse, some of us are even doomed to have kinky hair that requires a lot of hard work in order to make it behave. Being in a era when long, healthy, straight hair is considered to be a sign of vitality and soft, subtle, luscious curls are seen as glamourous; the frizzy kinks just aren't that desirable.

For decades, women have fought the kinks and the frizz by utilizing tools that apply heat to the hair to help it straighten it out. Much like a a clothes iron can press wrinkles out of a blouse, using a flat iron on your hair will help you straighten out kinks and frizz from your hair. This provided an inadequate path to achieving straighter more manageable hair. However, the results were frustratingly temporary and the process was extraordinary damaging to the hair. Even worse, the process took an extraordinary long period of time and for those of us who wanted our hair to look great everyday, it was just not practical.

Another approach that many women took was to use a perming product to permanently straighten their hair. This would work well, except that the hair was permanently straight and would never relax to restore their natural curl. Also, while it did a good job for the kinks, it did not do so well with the frizz.

Over the last few years stylist have discovered that using Keratin, a fibrous protein that makes up the outer layers of the hair shaft, could be bound to the hair shaft using a flat iron. This process relaxed and smoothed the hair in a very desirable way. Results were sem-permanent and the hair could begin to restore back to its nature curl beginning 3 - 4 months after the treatment. Keratin treated both the kinks and the frizzes and left the hair with a smooth, straight, healthy looking result that would respond to curl and styling very nicely. We had a fantastic solution.

Formaldehyde in Keratin Treatments

Formaldehyde is one of the most toxic carcinogens know to man. It is categories as one of the few elements that are likely to be a source of cancer. Formaldehyde is found in every organic element on Earth and it is all around us. Exposure to small amounts of formaldehyde is part of our every day life. However, exposure to larger amounts can be quite dangerous and even deadly. High concentrations of formaldehyde can often be found in Keratin treatments.

Despite popular belief, formaldehyde is not a necessary ingredient in an effective keratin smoothing treatment. In fact, the presence of formaldehyde really plays two roles. (1) it acts as a preservative for the keratin. Keratin is an organic substance and will spoil quickly if not refrigerated (2) formaldehyde acts as bonding accelerator when bonding the protein to the hair and, at high levels, formaldehyde can cause the bonding to take place in just minutes rather than days.

Because of the general health concerns regarding formaldehyde , many product lines have emerging promoting "formaldehyde free" keratin treatments. The only true formaldehyde free keratin treatment is KeraGreen. KeraGreen uses amino acids and a preservative called Saliguard that is FDA approved as a food additive as it's preservative to replace the need for formaldehyde. Although a client receiving a KeraGreen treatment is instructed not to wash their hair for a couple of days, this allows the keratin protein time to bond with the hair without the need for formaldehyde which would otherwise accelerate the bonding process.

A couple notes on Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a dangerous gas that is classified as a likely carcinogen and should be avoided in high concentrations. Surprisingly, formaldehyde is present in every living organism including mushrooms, fruits, meats, and even hair itself. The gas is most often released when an organic substance is heated enough to burn the organic substance and release a gas (smoke).

Some Keratin treatments claim they are formaldehyde free. There are only two ways any keratin treatment can truly be 100% free of any formaldehyde and that is:

1. If the product does not contain any organic substances whatsoever. In this case, the treatment would not actually contain any keratin protein because keratin is an organic ingredient and does contain small traces of formaldehyde as every organic substance does. Beware of these treatments as they are often cheaper imitations with dangerously synthetic ingreidents.

2. If the product contains other very caustic chemicals that effectively disintegrate the organic elements in a formula and neutralize any of their natural processes. Beware of these as brands as the gasses that are released while heating these chemicals are probably far more toxic than any reasonably expected concentration of formaldehyde.

Expected Levels of Formaldehyde in Keratin Smoothing and Straightening Systems

As hair stylist, we must all be aware that even virgin hair, as it is a natural substance, contains some formaldehyde in it that will be released when heated to high temperatures. Also, any product applied to the hair, if they also contain organic ingredients, will similarly emit a small amount of formaldehyde gas when heated to high temperatures. This is precisely why all stylist performing any hair treatments that involve high amounts of heat applied to the hair should exercise caution and wear gloves and work in a well ventilated area .

We estimate that virgin hair, when heated to 300 - 400 degrees fahrenheit, will emit between 0.60- 0.90 ppm of formaldehyde. We also estimate that pure organic keratin protein, when heated to 300 - 400 degrees fahrenheit, will emit 0.50 - 0.80 ppm of formaldehyde. Therefore, any keratin treatment emitting less than 1.1 - 1.7 ppm of formaldehyde likely contains other substances like perming solutions, sodium hydroxide, or aluminum hydroxide which will disintegrate any organic substances and eliminate the potential for formaldehyde to be realsed by replace it with much more toxic and caustic gases. The types of keratin treatments that often fall into this category are those that are perm-based or related.

Treatments Requiring Caution

There are some treatments that stylists should approach with a healthy degree of caution including the wearing of gloves, working in a well ventilated area, and potentially even wearing a mask or ventilator. Stylist that are pregnant should seek advise from there medical physician before performing any of these services.

1. Keratin Treatments: especially those known to contain formaldehyde in their ingredients or those that emit less than the natural amount of formaldehyde that purely organic keratin protein and virgin hair would emit.

2. Use of Relaxers: relaxers use quite toxic chemicals like sodium hydroxide and other chemicals.

3. Hair Color: Hair color often contains ammonia and PPD's which are none to be respiratory irritants and allogenic.

4. Flat Ironing of Hair: Because hair is an organic substances it will emit small concentrations of formaldehyde. Stylist should only fo this in an area of good ventilation.

Safer, more natural, and organic treatments to consider:

1. Revamp Keratin Treatment from Organic Color Systems: This powerful treatment restores the protein levels in hair by naturally infusing organic keratin protein in the hair. The treatment does not require falt-ironing the hair and comes in a spray or conditioner treatment application.

2. KeraGreen Organic Keratin Smoothing Treatment: This treatment is a more natural and organic approach to the popular Brazilian Blowout treatment. Because the product does not contain formaldehyde in its formulation, the client is required to not wash the hair for a day or so to enable the keratin protein to bond with the client's hair.

Final Conclusions on Keratin Treatments

Adding keratin treatments to your salon services menu can help boost your revenue and income. However, your health and your clients will appreciate selecting the safest products and taking the necessary precautions to maximize the safety of using the products.

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Comments 9 comments

Laurie Carter 6 years ago

I am a salon owner that is currently facing litigation from a client that I used Brazilian Blowout on. The bottle was labeled as "formaldehyde free" and the company assured me it was. My lawyer, who has costs me so much that I am already closing my salon and facing personal bankruptcy, is telling me I should settle and hope to same the equity in my home. The client developed cancer and is claiming it is as a result of the Brazilian Blowout treatments I have given her throughout the years. Her lawyer says "I knew or should have known that the treatment had formaldehyde" and therefore I am responsible somehow for her cancer! It has ruined my life and now I just want to scream!

Jack Honoway 5 years ago

Organic Keratin treatments, that do not contain formaldehyde, are certainly past due in this industry.

Naomi Jayne profile image

Naomi Jayne 5 years ago from Australia

I am a Hairdressing trainer and these tips on safety should be implemented in colleges that have these certain products, I currently am training at one that had the Brasilian Keratin called back as it was toxic for use....I cant beleive the testing on these products, how can they put something on the market without proper testing? Sad. I feel for you laurie,chin up read below:

Cancers are primarily an environmental disease with 90-95% of cases due to lifestyle and environmental factors and 5-10% due to genetics.[4] Common environmental factors that lead to cancer death include: tobacco (25-30%), diet and obesity (30-35%), infections (15-20%), radiation, radon exposure, stress, lack of physical activity, and environmental pollutants.[4]

So really it could be anything and not your product, depending on the cancer, some cancers takes 5 yrs to develop!

Best wishes Nj

scottmitchellfl profile image

scottmitchellfl 5 years ago from Tampa, Florida Author


Thank you so much for the excellent information. Yours was one of the most informative replies to a hub I have ever seen. I agree that the daners of formaldehyde in Brazilian Keratin Treatments should be taught in schools.

Rachel Z 5 years ago

I am a fairly new stylist and have had the best luck in gaining business by offering keratin treatments. I've run in to issues at my salon with the other stylists complaining about the formaldehyde exposure and smell of the treatment I currently use. I was excited by a rumor that Aveda would be releasing their own treatment soon, but like many rumors this turned out to be false. Aveda Services told me that there is no environmentally friendly way to produce these treatments and no way to make it without formaldehyde. I just don't want to buy another treatment that says it is safe and later find out that it isn't. Is there somewhere I can gain access to an ingredient list prior to placing an order for the Keragreen Organic Keratin just to be sure?

Desi 4 years ago

Where can I buy the Kera Green Smoothing System or the Smoothing Treatment by Organic Color Systems? I live in NJ and my stylist only uses the Brazilian Keratin smoothing treatment which she states is Formaldehyde free but I dont believe. I want her to use a true Formaldehyde free product.

JJP 4 years ago

I had a Aveda Keratin Express treatment today. The stylist assured me that the product did not contain formaldehyde. Have I been lied to?

Pinkchic18 profile image

Pinkchic18 3 years ago from Minnesota

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing this.

erorantes profile image

erorantes 3 years ago from Miami Florida

Hello Scottmichelfl; I want to thank you for keep us inform about the danger on hair products at the hair salon. You are a good messenger.

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