Why I Choose not to do Keratin Treatments

As a stylist I try to refrain from jumping on the latest trends – especially if they involve a chemical process.  I have learned that it is difficult to assess the pros and cons of a new process without factoring in the effects over time.  I regret now that I may have jumped the gun on endorsing one particular process on this blog in the past – keratin treatments.  I am rescinding that endorsement in light of new facts.

The problem with keratin treatments – no brands excluded – is that they only work to smooth the hair if they contain dimethicone, a non-water soluble silicone found in many hair care products.  Keratin alone will not smooth the hair – I know this because I worked for a distributor of a keratin treatment which shall remain nameless… When complaints were made to OSHA regarding formaldehyde levels in keratin treatments the manufacturer tried playing with the formula and removing different elements like the dimethicone; the problem was, the keratin treatment no longer worked without the silicone component (dimethicone), and back in it went.

Although these treatments seem to be effective in smoothing the hair, over time they build up to such a degree that the hair begins to dry out to the point of becoming brittle.  The situation only gets worse when you use the after care products that are recommended, because of course, they contain loads of dimethicone.  So not only are you coating the hair, you are also coating the scalp, and thus begins the worst case of dandruff imaginable, and lo and behold, the hair begins to fall out from the scalp because the follicles can no longer nourish and support the hair.

As an aside, many of the hair care treatments on the market are also loaded with dimethicone – in a lot of conditioners it is the third ingredient after water and alcohol.  Prolonged use of these products will cause the same problems including loss of hair, trouble combing or brushing the hair, massive loss of hair when combing or brushing, a greasy look particularly at the roots, and dandruff.  The hair will start to smell bad after a while because all of the oils from your scalp get trapped. and since it’s not water-soluble, you can’t wash it out.

There is a solution, however.  There are in-salon treatments that can begin to remove all of this build-up, and restore the scalp to its optimal balance, allowing your hair to recover.  For more information about these treatments please follow the link to another post: Keratin Treatment Disasters.

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18 Comments

  1. Jen
    Posted March 20, 2013 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    Please tell me what I need to do to get the keratin out of my hair and stop the hair loss/dandruff that is occurring just as your article said it would. Would it help to use a shampoo with sulfates? Anything helps! Thank you!

    • cdaza
      Posted March 21, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      You need a chelation treatment for the hair and scalp such as Malibu Wellness Undoo Goo Shampoo followed by Crystal Gel Actives. Best done in salon as it works best when you apply heat for 45 minutes. Repeat weekly as necessary until you remove the build-up. You can buy these products online. Search Malibu Wellness products. Hope this helps! Best of luck.

  2. Katie
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Hi, my natural hair is thick and curly. 6 months ago I got a keratin treatment and it has really damaged my hair. Parts of my fringe have become so brittle and broken off, and other parts of my hair have become super dry and have also broken off. Also parts have become very stringy and oily, if I don’t wash it every day, it’s like an oil slick. Any advice on how to get my hair back to normal would be awesome. Would you recommend a chelating shampoo? I need a solution that will help my hair long term. Thankyou in advance for any tips or tricks! Katie

    • cdaza
      Posted June 26, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Hi Katie, I would suggest a chelating treatment such as Malibu Wellness Crystal Gel Actives. You can use the Undo Goo shampoo, or Neutragena’s Anti-Residue shampoo once a week. It’s important to stop using any products you may have gotten with the keratin treatment because they continually deposit silicone onto the hair and scalp and that is what you want to remove. It’s causing your hair to dry out and trapping the oils from your scalp creating the “oil-slick” you’re referring to. For maintenance I suggest you try Simply Organic or Phyto shampoos and conditioners. Please feel free to contact me again if you need more information on where to buy any of these products. Thank you for your inquiry. Best of luck to you!

  3. Christina davis
    Posted August 8, 2013 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Hi , I’m having an issue with a client, I have been doing keratin on her hair for three years. In the last year all of a sudden she has had issues with the white dandruff and mushy ends only on her bang area which is highlited. She also has that feel like it’s over processed but I did the keratin by the book. There are other parts of her hair that feel dry. What can I do to correct this ? Can she use a clarifying kelating shampoo and moisture conditioner ? How long will it take for her hair to be back to normal ?

    • cdaza
      Posted August 12, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

      Hi Christina, The reason the hair feels dry and over-processed is because keratin treatments contain dimethicone, which is non-water soluble silicone. After a while, this coats the hair in what is essentially plastic, and that blocks the moisture and protein from entering the hair. This leaves the hair feeling dry. It also coats the scalp and causes dandruff because the scalp is attempting to rid itself of this unnatural coating. The best remedy that I have found is Malibu Wellness Treatment’s Crystal Gel Actives. It is a chelating agent (Vitamin C essentially) that removes the coating from the hair and scalp. Follow the directions and do the 45 min treatment under the dryer in salon. She can follow up at home with Malibu Wellness’ Un-doo Goo Shampoo and Hard Water Actives weekly. Her bang area with mushy ends probably needs protein if it is bleached. The best product that I know of is called Revamp and is available for purchase from http://www.organicsalonsystems.com. It’s great for use when highlighting if you need to stop the action of the bleach (for example, when some of the foils have processed to the desired lightness and there are others that still need more processing time). Use this spray instead of water and it will stop the action of the bleach without swelling the hair – using water to wipe the lightener from the hair will cause swelling. The bonus is that it also helps the hair to re-harden and will prevent mushiness. If you have any other questions, please let me know. I am happy to try to help! The amount of time it takes for her hair to return to normal will depend on the amount of build-up she has and how often she does the chelating treatments. Good luck! Carolina

  4. Kay
    Posted October 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Does this apply to the simply smooth keratin treatment as well? I have gotten the treatment two times last year and it was fine but this year I am experiencing buildup.

    • cdaza
      Posted November 14, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      It does apply to this brand as well. As stated in the article, there are no brands that can be excluded because keratin doesn’t work without dimethicone.

  5. Sarah Beth
    Posted October 12, 2013 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for writing this. I have had keratin done four times but it wasn’t until my most recent treatment (two weeks ago) that I experienced anything you have described. I was ecstatic the first few days as I was given a shampoo and conditioner that were the same brand as my treatment and it really seemed as though they were working amazingly. But then I noticed my hair was getting greasy by the roots extremely quickly which is not normal for me at all. I had to start washing my hair everyday (I wash my hair every other day normally) and then over the past three days I have developed terrible dandruff. Its been absolutely horrible. I have never even had dandruff before. I am totally shocked to learn what keratin actually does after reading this. I feel sorry I have treated my poor hair so badly. Lol. I want to scrub my hair till its all gone!!!! I am about to go to bed and I rubbed in some coconut oil onto my dandruff area. Hopefully this helps a little until I can get my hands on something to get this crap out of my hair.

  6. B
    Posted November 13, 2013 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    I’m a hair stylist and I have thick course wavy/curly hair. Everyone has been all about the keratin treatments lately so I figured ‘why not?’. I let my co worker put one on me and OH MY GOODNESS! If I were a client and was paying hundreds of dollars for this I would be livid. My hair is now flat to my head, pin straight, will not hold curl or volume. I’m chelating like a mad woman and it’s coming out pretty fast. A tip for those of you also suffering, mix in a little backing soda with a clarifying or chelating shampoo just a dab into your palm and wash your hair good with it. The baking soda will help to dissolve the dimethicone. My hair feels like it has a slightly sticky film on it and is not in the least bit soft. I don’t have any questions for you I just wanted to express my personal experience and dislike of the keratin treatments. 🙂 Also I think it’s horrible that so many hair stylists are marketing these treatments as ‘good for your hair’ ‘makes your hair healthy’. Nothing that requires harsh chemicals or high heat is ‘good’ for your hair period.

    • cdaza
      Posted November 14, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      Thank you for sharing your experience, B. Also, thank you for the tip about the baking soda – added to a clarifying shampoo, it works very well to help remove the build-up, as you stated. Vinegar can also help make it feel softer, although it does leave a bit of a scent behind.

  7. Adrienne
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    I have really thick curly hair that I can’t stand. I’ve had a smoothing tx before (Pravana, about 1 1/2 years ago) and parts of my hair reacted to it like it was a relaxer. I had to get 4 inches cut to bring back my natural curls. My question is are there any products that can help me wear my straight long-term besides the keratin treatments. I prefer natural products but any willing to try anything to stop using the Curly Girl method. I love my hair but I hate taking care of it. Please help! Thanks!

    • cdaza
      Posted November 18, 2013 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

      Hi Adrienne, Thank you for your inquiry. Anything you do to change your hair long-term is going to involve a chemical process which will require cutting it in order for the curl to return. However, if you “can’t stand” the curls, you may consider having it straightened with a perm. Not quite as harsh as a relaxer, a straightening perm utilizes perm solution (exactly the same as the solution used to create a permanent wave), but instead of wrapping the hair around rods, the hair is combed until the natural bend in your hair has relaxed. Organic Curl Systems makes a perm that is gentle, but will get the job done. (It is a professional-only product that requires a licensed cosmetologist place the order). This method of straightening is preferable to a keratin treatment in that you are not depositing silicone onto the hair shaft and scalp. Please be aware though, that you are breaking and re-forming the salt bonds in the hair by using a perm solution, and this is permanent. It will also require maintenance as it grows out. I hope this helps. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  8. Shannon
    Posted April 28, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    I had the keratin treatment done 15 months ago and my hair is still falling from the root. It just falls out all day effortlessly. There is no breakage and comes from the root only. From day one my hair went from coarse and thick to sickly thin and I have lost atleast 60 percent of my hair. The hair texture changed instantly. The dermatologists only say that scalp is fine and that it is probably Telogen Effluvium. I think they all basically say TE when they do not know what the diagnosis can be. I have been searching everywhere and would appreciate answers and to hear from others who have been dealing with the same problem.

  9. Monica
    Posted June 1, 2014 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    Hey there! Are these cautions referring to keratin treatments done with formaldehyde, or glycolic keratin treatments? Or does this apply to both? Thank you so much for your time! ~ M

    • cdaza
      Posted June 12, 2014 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      Refers to any that contain dimethicone, or heavy silicones, and I don’t know of any that don’t.

  10. tara
    Posted June 12, 2014 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    Ok..so..I’m sold..I’m done.with keratin…. I see that baking soda was mentioned….this is another process that some say is bad for your hair…. What’s the real answer? I want a natural cleanser and conditioner….that works…here’s a blog that breaks down the baking soda and vinegar thing… So confused now…. http://blog.kanelstrand.com/2014/01/baking-soda-destroyed-my-hair.html?m=1 You may use these HTML tags and attributes 

    • cdaza
      Posted June 12, 2014 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

      Baking soda is not recommended due to its extreme alkalinity. I recommend Phyto Botanical Hair Care products. They are gentle on the hair and do not contain harsh detergents that create imbalances. I have never found a completely perfect solution, but Phyto comes close. Beware these “natural” remedies and recipes for shampoos and do it yourself lotions, shampoos, deodorants, etc. There is a reason why chemists are employed when making personal care products. For more on restoring your hair please see my blog post: Keratin Treatment Disasters.

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