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Keratin is a protein that is naturally found in the human body. Our nails and hair are made of keratin and it can also be found in some of our internal organs. It is also produced in many other animal species and can be derived from feathers, horns, wool, etc. 

Since our hair mostly consists of this protein, many products and hair treatments now include keratin as an ingredient in hopes that the texture and quality of the hair would improve by using them. Many of these treatments have shown positive results and, therefore, have become extremely common now. 

While keratin is a naturally-occurring protein, the hair treatment offered in salons includes many other chemicals, making it a chemical procedure. It is always best to discuss the benefits and side effects of the treatment with your trusted hairstylist before proceeding with it. 

There are a few different types of keratin treatments - the common factor among all of them is that they contain keratin, many of the other chemicals change. The results, procedure and duration may also depend on the specific type of keratin treatment used. 

The procedure usually starts with a shampoo. Your hair is then partially blow-dried, followed by the keratin product being applied. Your hair will then be straightened using a hair straightener which can take upwards of an hour, depending on the length and density of your hair. This is followed by another hair wash, serum application and finally a blow-dry.

Keratin treatments sometimes go by the name of a Brazilian blowout as well. They can safely be done on coloured hair but can sometimes cause a slight change in the colour.

Read more: Dry hair symptoms, causes, treatment and care

  1. Benefits of keratin treatment
  2. Side effects of keratin treatment
  3. At home keratin treatment

There are was a time not so long ago when only two types of hair treatments existed: one to straighten and one to curl your hair. Now, every parlour you visit has an entirely new range of treatments - or so it seems. Picking one of them can be a challenge. If you’re thinking of opting for keratin, these are the benefits you should be aware of:

  • It strengthens and straightens hair: During keratin treatment, the protein present in the product bonds wherever required or wherever the naturally present keratin protein is lacking. Loss of keratin in your hair can occur due to excess heat treatments, environmental factors and age.
  • It adds shine to your hair: Exposure to pollution and dirt can make your hair dull. Keratin treatment can help combat this by adding shine to your hair that doesn’t get washed away quickly.
  • It reduces frizziness: Some of the chemicals present in the keratin treatment help in making the texture of your hair smoother and more manageable. Smoother hair gets tangled less often. The result: reduced hair breakage.
  • The hair looks styled naturally: Keratin treatment eliminates the need for styling your hair daily. Your hair will naturally fall into place and you won't feel the need to use heat applicators like hair straighteners and curling iron as much. This will not only save you time but also promote better hair health. 

Read more: How to reduce hair breakage

Any chemical treatment for hair would have some side-effects. Make sure that the benefits outweigh the side-effects for your hair before you sign up. Also, speak to your hairstylist about what exactly you want for your hair - in case there is another, more appropriate treatment for those particular results, they will be able to suggest those to you.  

  • It could cause some hair breakage: The product applied to your hair results in stronger hair but the straightening process can cause hair breakage if the heat is too strong or the procedure is not done by a professional.
  • Your hair will emit formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a gas that will be formed once the chemicals present in most keratin treatment products come in contact with heat via the hair straightener. This gas is known to be extremely harmful, and exposure to it can lead to eye, skin or throat irritation, watery eyes, difficulty breathing and nausea.
  • Temporary smell and styling limitations: There are a few immediate limitations: after the treatment, your hair may still smell a little bad as a result of all the chemicals applied. You won’t be able to wash it off as you’re advised not to wash your hair for a few days after the treatment. You also can’t tie your hair back in a ponytail or a bun for a few days as this may affect the results of the treatment. Post-treatment, you should use sulphate-free hair products for lasting results.
  • It isn’t permanent: Keratin treatment won’t last as long as treatments like rebonding. You will start to notice the effects fading away in about three to four months.
  • It is expensive: Salon keratin treatment should ideally be performed by a trained professional in a good salon. This can cost about Rs 5,000-8,000 on average, varying based on hair length.

Read more: Hair growth treatment and tips

A salon keratin treatment can be customised to your hair type and hair goals. But when doing a treatment at home, that won’t be the case. It is best to get the treatment done at a good salon to avoid any bad results - especially if you aren’t well-versed in the process of such treatments. 

There are still other keratin-based products that you can use at home. Many of these promise to, over time, give you the same results a salon keratin treatment would.  

You’ll find many keratin treatment kits being sold online as well as in some beauty stores. Many of these include a label that says "professional use only". Some of them may be formaldehyde-free - these would be safer to use at home than the others. 

There are other products that mention keratin without the "professional use" label. These are milder but continued use can produce great results. You can choose from a variety or consult a dermatologist or a trusted hairstylist to recommend one for your hair type. Just like skincare, what may work for a friend or colleague may not work for you. Even with the same hair type, your keratin experience could be very different from others.

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