Brazilian or Keratin Treatment - Education About Hair Straightening

A couple of years ago I became very interested in a so called Brazilian or Keratin Treatment (just to name a few well known products: Brazilian Blowout - Acai Professional Smoothing Solution, Professional Brazilian Blowout Solution; Cadiveu - Brasil Cacau, Acai Therapy; Copomon/Coppola - Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy, Natural Keratin Smoothing Treatment, Natural Keratin Smoothing Treatment Blonde, Express Blow Out; Marcia Teixeira - Brazilian Keratin Treatment, Advanced Brazilian Keratin Treatment, Chocolate Extreme De-Frizzing Treatment, Soft Gentle Smoothing Treatment, Soft Chocolate Gentle Smoothing Treatment; and others less known companies), which all became extremely popular. I visited a salon and watched a stylist to apply this keratin treatment. I was very interested in how the hair would turn out. The whole application process was quite time consuming . And there was another issue - the fumes. But for many ladies it was worth it.

I am very curious person and as soon as I got home I started "googling". I wanted to know everything about all types of keratin treatments, manufacturers, which one is the best one on the market, and what makes these products so successful besides that look of gorgeous silky hair = what is the secret ingredient(s).

My research turned into an obsession. I probably spent entire month or so on typing many key words into a search engine and reading what Google would "spit" out onto my screen. At first I was finding only raves - many "ooohhhs" and "aaaahhhhs". But as I would read hundreds of posts I would come across a complain here and there, which made me became very interested in learning more, especially about chemical ingredients. I am not a chemist and do not understand chemistry much, but as I was sifting through web pages I came across Wikipedia's info on a chemical called formaldehyde used in these products. After my research I could not believe how high percentage of  hairdressers was uneducated, naive and manipulated into promoting a deadly product, so the companies can make huge profit. The ones that will get hurt are the ones that apply it, or wear it - not the people in the offices sitting in the cushy seats, forking in all the money of uninformed innocent people.

When I studied in my cosmetology school, our classes included few hours of science. There we learned a little about biology (skin problems, lice and other little creatures, structure of hair etc.) In chemistry we touched just basics - how the perms and straighteners, colors, bleaches what they contain and how they work. No one would tell us in detail how these chemical compounds react and what they do when they bond. We would practically learn "this is what they do (they color, they straighten, they curl), they are dangerous if used improperly, and some people can get allergy reactions or serious health problems so be careful using them."
Since I have become mom and stayed home with my child I haven't attended many classes given by different companies, ie. a manufacturer of keratin treatment type of hair straightening. But since I love to learn, this is what I learned on my own:

  • A liquid keratin solution is applied to a clean (washed and dry) hair
  • Then hairdresser applies the chemical with a spray bottle
  • Hair is dried agai
  • With a very hot iron the hair is smoothed
  • Hair cannot get washed with certain types of shampoos
So far so good. (And I believe that the 5 bullets of info above is the ONLY info majority of hairdressers know). After more than a month of searching and weeks of thinking about this issue I came to a conclusion what probably happens (and I will write it in simple English so any reader can understand it)
  • Hair needs to be washed and clean so the chemical adheres to it (I think it is deposited only on the surface)
  • Hair needs to be dry, so it doesn't dilute the chemical solution
  • After application of a keratin treatment solution the hair needs to be dried again so it can be smoothed with a hot iron in the short period of time and with less fumes
  • There are different types of solutions - the very first ones had different strengths of formaldehyde, the new types have little or do not have any formaldehyde Per se, but they contain a type of chemical that can be formaldehyde's "cousin" =  they belong to "aldehyde" family under different names
  • Manufacturers put on their labels  "formaldehyde free", which is true, but don't tell the user that it contains different type of chemicals which with use of heat will turn into FORMALDEHYDE
  • The dried solution (on hair) probably "hardens" with the use of heat thus making hair straight and shiny (vs. the old fashioned straighteners which will change bonds on the "chain" inside the hair thus making hair straight)
  • A keratin treatment lasts only 2-4 months
My thinking:
  • What happens if the hair straightened with a keratin treatment is exposed to sun and high heat again, such as a blow dryer or a flat iron? We know that formaldehyde gets released with the use of heat. So, I think that formaldehyde slowly releases as it "sits" on hair over time and when exposed to heat elements
  • Why a keratin treatment is not permanent? It probably "breaks off" or "peels off" with friction (since it is probably like a hard "shell" that sits on the hair shaft, keeping the hair straight) <= this is my deduction - need to check with a scientist who is knowledgeable about "formaldehyde and heat on hair" (anyone knows such a scientist - feel free to comment)
  • IF I am right and it does "peel off" then while washing, blow drying, styling hair, or even just touching it, ladies with their straight silky hair are probably inhaling and digesting formaldehyde all the time
Every one should know:
Other good websites with more in-depth info on keratin treatment/ formaldehyde products I just came acros on www (world wide web):
There are a lot of site you can read about keratin treatment iessue, but I just had o write my thoughts on this, to make my readers aware or informed, if they haven't realized yet.

This post should be taken as a first step for a discussion with your hairdresser and/or colorist about your ideas, desires or problems with your hair. Under no circumstances, you should act upon this post ONLY. I strongly advice you to have your hair done by a skilled and reputable hairdresser/colorist in your area.