Ballpark estimate: $150 to $500+
Most women will go to great lengths to get smooth, shiny hair. But if you’re born with wavy or curly hair (or worse yet, frizzy!) then you may be spending a sizable chunk of your paycheck on weekly blow-outs and at-home straightening tools (not to even mention the hefty time it’s taking) to try to get that polished look. And you’ve probably got an impressive collection of styling creams, serums and gels cluttering up your bathroom. If this sounds like your reality, it may be time to consider investing in a keratin treatment, which is also known as a Brazilian treatment, or a Brazilian blow out.
For people with curly, wavy, frizzy, or otherwise difficult-to-manage hair, keratin could cut down on your styling time significantly and may minimize your need for all those beauty products and extra salon services. (It’s also safe for color-treated hair.) This means that in return for the treatment expense, you could actually save money in the end. The only catch is that it lasts for just a few months, depending on the type of keratin you get, how well it’s applied by your stylist, the condition and type of hair you have, and how well you maintain it. As a result, some people repeat keratin every two to three months or so, while others may decide to have it done even more frequently to maintain the highest results.
What to Expect
The process of getting a keratin treatment can be time intensive. It generally involves having a special solution containing keratin protein onto your dry hair. The hair must then be dried and the stylist will seal the keratin right into your hair with a very hot flat iron, thus sealing the hair’s cuticle and achieving a smooth, straight effect you would have difficulty achieving on your own. The longer and thicker your hair, the longer the process will take to straighten and get the results. Generally, you can assume it will take two to three hours from start to finish for the keratin treatment process. You won’t be able to have it curled or add any styling tools (beyond the flat iron process) for the first few days, since this could compromise the treatment effects. You also won’t be able to wash your hair or use any hair products or accessories for the first few days. You won’t even be able to clip back a strand or pull it into a ponytail without risking ruining the effects.
One benefit you can expect in return for this initial inconvenience is that keratin can reduce the time it takes to blow dry your hair by about 50 percent. In addition, it can make it quicker and easier to straighten your hair or also to add in shiny curls.
In order to help your keratin treatment last, you’ll need to purchase salon-quality shampoos and conditioners that are specially formulated to work with keratin -infused hair. Other products can strip the keratin from your strands and the treatment won’t last very long in that event.
Other drawbacks to keratin include the fact that it requires putting heat and chemicals on your hair, and for very fine or fragile strands, or when your hair stylist is not well versed in this treatment, this can raise the potential for damage.
In addition, keratin treatments contain formaldehyde, which can be dangerous to your health and also to the health of your hair dresser. Some of the risks include cancers from frequent exposure and lung issues. As a result of these dangers, many salons today are using solutions that are lower in formaldehyde than those solutions available in the past. (Some keratins call themselves “formaldehyde-free, but this can be misleading because at least a little amount of formaldehyde is needed in order to get the results.) But lower amounts of this carcinogen will be better, so be sure to ask your stylist what he or she is using and what it contains.
Where to Find
You can get a keratin treatment at most full-service salons. If you already have a regular stylist, your best bet is to rely on this person to perform your keratin treatment. This is always wise because this expert will be familiar with your hair condition, texture, and maintenance needs and will know exactly what will be best for the health of your hair and your lifestyle. If you prefer to try a new salon, you can do a search online for reputable places in your area or look at ads for salons in your newspaper that offer this service. You can also ask your colleagues and friends for recommendations. Just be sure if you are using a new stylist that you arrange a consultation first to talk about your hair type, your budget, and your goals and make sure that this will be a good fit for you over all. For any new salons you are trying, it’s also a good idea to check with the Better Business Bureau to be sure no complaints have been filed against them.
What it Costs
The cost of a keratin treatment depends on a variety of variables, including the type of hair or texture you have, how long your hair is, and how exclusive a salon you select, as well as what region you live in. Some salons will require you have a consultation first to assess your hair and will give you a quote based on what will be involved to give you the results you desire. Other salons will offer a set price for this service. Lower priced salons may offer better deals than spas and exclusive or well-known salons, but when it comes to keratin, keep in mind that a bargain may not be worth it in the end because if the stylist is not very experienced in this treatment, you may be dissatisfied with the results and could also be putting your hair condition at risk. Also note that in big cities, you will probably pay more for a keratin treatment then you will in small towns, but keep in mind this is not always the case since there is also more competition for business in big cities and this may help drive the price down a little.
In general, the price for a keratin treatment can start at about $150 for a no-frills salon or an introductory special at a new salon that is looking to build up a client base. But more often, you can expect to pay between $250 and $400 for a keratin treatment. If you opt for a trendy high-end salon, exclusive spa, or resort setting, the price can be as high as $500 and up.
In addition to the cost for the keratin treatments, you will also need to buy shampoo and conditioner made for keratin-treated hair. The cost for each of these can be between $25 and $50 for a bottle, depending on the size.
A Cost and Time-Saving Option
If you want the results you can expect from a keratin treatment but wish you could achieve this a lower cost and in less time, then Keratin Express may be appealing. This is a modified keratin treatment that takes about half the time of an original keratin treatment and as such, costs about half the price. You can expect to pay between $75 and $250. The results also last for about half as long, but for many women, this is a great way to try the approach and see if you like it.