It started with a coupon. "Get the miracle Brazilian Keratin treatment at yaddayadda salon!"
I called a friend. "I just saw their before and after pictures and I think I need to get this coupon," I said.
"How much?" She asked.
"$169," I said, "but the regular price is $400."
"Oh don't pay that. That's my stylist's normal price. She's running a special now, go see her."
I hung up the phone armed with a new number and begin scouring the web for terrible stories about the Brazilian keratin treatment hoping to talk myself out of it. But instead I find myself transfixed by this:
Before and After Photos of Brazilian Keratin Treatment
Yeah, me too. Only I'm still terribly chicken about doing anything to my hair. It doesn't need extra help falling out. Formaldehyde does terrible things, right? I usually try to avoid bursting into flames regularly so in my reluctance, I bought an over-the-counter version that claimed to be formaldehyde free and figured okay, if this works even 20%, fine.
Steps for being me:
|This is the stuff I used.|
Step 1: Spend 2 hours on internet reading everything you can find about brazilian keratin treatment. Feel both excited that SOMETHING can maybe help your hair look awesome and terrified that the process's various formaldehydes will cause you to grow two heads (which of course will be twice as expensive for hair maintenance). Plus that last time you burst into flames wasn't that cool. Stay skeptical.
Step 2: Go to drugstore. Realize you only put 6 minutes into the meter and that won't be enough time to sniff, read and analyze every hair product they carry. Return to car. Pay for spot next to it by accident. Contemplate driving away rather than fixing mistake. Return to drugstore in disgust and rebellion, taunting parking ticket fate. Turn hate outward and abhor entire city.
Step 4: Read directions 3 times. Get cold feet. Why do you need gloves to apply avocado oil? "DO NOT GET ON SKIN" touts loud warning. "USE IN WELL-VENTILATED AREA." Frown. Consider abandoning mission.
Step 5: Think about cute Halloween wig and resign to backup plan. Plus, it can't get much worse then the last experiment, right?
Step 6: Read label carefully. "Apply product to hair that is 80% dry. DO NOT OVERSATURATE."
Step 7: Oversaturate.
Step 8: Let product soak into hair for half an hour. Down two glasses of chocolate milk. Plan to buy heavy-duty trash bags to transport clothes instead of using thin kitchen bags. Decide moving preparations are complete for the day.
Step 9: Blow dry hair. Immediately understand the "DO NOT OVERSATURATE" warning. Use wide-toothed comb to pull gloppy, greasy strands straight.
Step 11: Start ironing hair. Become alarmed at smoky steam of residue burn off. Secretly hope this is what "sealing" keratin into the cuticle looks like because if not, that wig might actually get more use than expected.
Step 12: Finish. Realize with horror "THIS HAS TO STAY SLATHERED ON HEAD FOR TWO DAYS??" Cancel all social plans where looking presentable is desireable. (In other words, everything.) (Except moving. The movers won't care if you look like a greased alpaca.) Become angry that you gave away your only non-snowstorm hat because you thought you looked terrible in hats. Feel too embarrassed to go to store for another. Start packing.
Step 13: haha, just kidding about packing. Write blog post and take a nap!
I finally decided to get an actual Brazilian keratin treatment, like, from a salon.
A friend said "if you're thinking about getting that Brazilian keratin treatment but not sure, well, just flat-iron your hair. If you like the way it looks straightened, then you will like the way it looks with that treatment."
I wasn't sure, because my hair is both fine AND thin, and I just didn't know how the treatment would come out. I was worried for a reason -- I was right. I think it is too thin (and now flat) and doesn't look that great.
I'm posting pictures of my hair before the Brazilian treatment and after so if you have similar hair, you can see how it will affect you. I think if my hair was THICK, then hale yes, I woulda rocked it. But now it just looks flat and lifeless framing my face (although granted, before it was so frizzy and dry that it wasn't necessarily great either). The side and back look great though. (Can't have it all I guess!)
Before Brazilian keratin treatment:
|See how my hair is wavy, but not curly? |
That makes the hair follicle nice & thirsty.
Up close it looks frizzy.
|Side view - you can really see here how it is both fine |
(meaning very thin strands) and thin (meaning not that much of it)*
I'm not trying to be derogatory, just honestly portray what my hair is like.
After Brazilian keratin treatment:
|It's really flat, you guys. Which looks awesome in the side view, |
as I'll demonstrate below, but not so great for the front view.
Also note, this photo is not a close-up so you can't see the flaws as easily.
|So, this is the most important one I wanted you to see.|
See how my hair is sticking straight up?
That's because my hair was all different lengths (broken, etc.)
It's really accentuated now.
This is the main reason I'm unhappy with it.
(I'm not selling this treatment well, am I? haha. Most of my friends love it, but then again they do not have shitty hair like me.)
Actually I'm glad I got it done even if it doesn't look as awesome as I hoped; I'd been wavering about it for like, a YEAR, unsure if my hair was too thin to make this a good decision for me. Well, now I know.
Here's the composite before & after view I shared with my family and friends:
Before & *right* after keratin treatment:
After washing it JUST like they said:
I let this wait longer the time period recommended for Chi Enviro (24 hours is the recommended, I waited an extra 16 hours beyond that), I washed it with special sulfate free shampoo that I bought at the salon and then styled it with special heat-protectants that I also bought at the salon, and look:
|Left: right after the treatment. Right: the day I was allowed to wash it. It didn't take!|
Okay, so I got the Chi Enviro treatment - my stylist recommended it because my hair was very damaged and colored and this is a gentler form. No formaldehyde. My eyes didn't sting or burn as she was blow-drying it and flat-ironing it to seal it in. Steam came off but it didn't smell unpleasant (although I still didn't want to breathe it in).
Another lady in the salon was having a regular keratin treatment and her stylist was wearing a face mask but neither my stylist nor I needed to. (I have healthy lungs but I am very sensitive to scents and chemicals so I am pleased it didn't bother me.) I have no idea about the health effects but I would guess they're more substantial for the stylist who is exposed much more often.
Two other hair stylists that I know personally recommended the "Coppola" keratin treatment but that's not what I got because it's harsher on hair and mine is too damaged. Both stylists emphasized that the results depend on the quality of the keratin treatment used and so brand really does matter. Chi Enviro and Coppola are supposed to both be very good brands.
How does keratin improve hair? Because it is the same protein hair is made of and when you coat hair with it, it "fills in" the rough spots (like potholes) and smooths the cuticle. The chemical they use is necessary to bind the keratin protein to the hair shaft -- the formaldehyde (or other aldehyde or whatever's in the "gentler" ones) plus heat do the binding.
|Strand of hair up close - microscopic view.|
When those layers of the cuticle lie flat, the hair is shiny and flexible.
|When the cuticle is rough, the edges stick up like this. |
Keratin smooths it down and "fills in the potholes" in effect.
|Kindof a terrifying photo of split ends.|
It cost me $250 and then I left a 20% tip because I know the stylist for quite a long time, but also I used to work for tips in college and tend towards the generous side. (Standard fare is like a restaurant, 10-20% depending on your satisfaction.) Either way, this isn't cheap, you guys. I'm glad I don't really like it! (Although I might like it better once I can wash it and style it - just got it done yesterday and so there is this tacky film in my hair and it feels awful. Don't make ANY plans where your looks matter until after you can wash it!)
I have heard of people finding hair stylists on Craigslist or through referrals that will do it for as low as $170 so ask around.
If you get a Groupon or coupon, look at the Yelp reviews for that salon -- I did a fair amount of research first since I *did* see coupons for hair keratin treatments and a lot of people reported that they experienced heavy upselling; the hair stylists ended up charging more for "better quality" keratin and pressured customers to buy special shampoos, conditioners and other treatments just so they could recoup the costs lost in the discount.
Maybe it's still worth it -- just do your research.
After you sleep on your hair before you're allowed to wash and style it, it will look messy when you wake up. No worries, just flat-iron it smooth again. Score: now you're sealing the keratin into your hair again. Be careful not to tuck it behind your ears or pin it up or throw it in a ponytail in that time before you can wash it out; anything you do will fix that shape into it.
Next time I may try a "glaze" -- a friend told me her stylist will not do the Brazilian keratin treatment because she is convinced it's too harsh for hair, but will do a glaze after coloring and it makes her hair look great. It doesn't straighten it, but it does smooth the hair shaft and make it look shiny. Since keratin didn't work for me, I will see if that is any better. If so, I will post photos here so you can compare the results.
Thank you for stopping by. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below -- my blog notifies me and I will pop back over and answer them as soon as I can. Best of luck!