Do Keratin Treatments Work on African American Hair?

Keratin treatments are one of popular hair-smoothing options to choose from, especially if you’re looking for alternatives to ironing or pressing. These are also known by some different names. For instance, it is much familiar called Brazilian keratin treatments (BKT). But do these treatments work on African American hair, too? Are they safe?

African American hair is more sensitive

Hair of black women (including for African American women) has unique structures. Typically, it contains less water and grows more slowly. But this can vary, too – especially the texture.

Since their hair contains less water, it can be very dry and easier to break. African American women may be about 2-3 times as likely of white women or other races to have hair breakage. So, it’s not only about very kinky, coarse texture!

And many times, hairstyle practices are to blame to worsen the problem. In fact, hair loss problem in black women is also quite common to be associated with their hairstyle practices. See also common causes of hair loss in black women in this section!

So, choosing the right hair treatments can be much more important if you are a black woman. How about keratin treatment? Does it work – is it safe, too?

What actually is keratin treatment?

This hair treatment is not DIY option, and you need to go to a salon to take it! The result is also dependent on the skill of your stylist. In fact, it is really about putting your hair in the hands of a professional.

The use of this treatment is quite controversial, especially about the claim of whether or not it is safe. While salons and manufacturers of products for keratin treatment say that it’s good and safe for hair, some experts and professional stylists may suggest otherwise.

What is it for?

It’s not always bad to have frizzy, curly hair. But in fact it is not always acceptable, too.

And if you are sick of frizz and curls, keratin treatment can be one of alternative choices to help straighten the coils of your hair. And this is not only about to look great and shinny, but can also be helpful to make your hair easier to comb. You can save about 40-60 percent of your blow-dry time (time-saving tresses).

Yap, it’s not permanent. But at least, it usually lasts about 2 or even maybe 3 months – this can be quite enough to kick frizzy hair in the humid days of summer.

Overall, it could be a good fit if you are looking for hair treatment to straighten your frizz but not permanently alter the texture of your hair!

How does it work?

Again, it is not a DIY option – you need a professional stylist to get the best result. In essence, the treatment uses a keratin hair-straightening product that leaves your hair frizz-free. It is directly applied to hair, and then your stylist will use heat of a flat iron in order to help seal it in!

How long does the treatment take? This is usually dependent on the length of your hair. In general, it can take about 90 minutes on average.

After the treatment, the result is quite durable. It usually will not change even though you walk out in light /moist rain.

But the solution also needs time to work. Therefore, it’s usually recommended to avoid washing hair for 3-4 days after treatment. And to keep the result last longer, the use of sodium-sulfate-free shampoo is recommended when you need to wash and shampoo your hair after the don’t-wash waiting period!

Does it work on African American hair, too?

Keratin treatment what we’re talking about was actually discovered for the first time in Brazil by a mortician, that’s why many times it’s also called Brazilian keratin treatment.

And today, it has become the term of choice for hair-straightening process with different names. These include Global keratin complex, Brazilian keratin treatment, Brazilian hair straightening, Brazilian blowout, La-Brasiliana treatment, and Coppola.

It can be used by women of different races with wavy, curly, or kinky hair who want to expect straight and shiny hair. But since it also carries health risks, there are some precautions you need to know before taking it!

Formaldehyde is the key of why keratin treatment can straighten hair. But unfortunately, it is harmful chemical (it is toxic).

The long-term health risks to formaldehyde are more troubling. One of them could be the increased risk of cancer. Even EPA (the Environmental Protection Agency) has classified this chemical as a suspected human carcinogen.

In general, the main health concern from this treatment is focused to salon workers or anyone who get long exposure to formaldehyde. But this doesn’t mean that the risk for people who get the treatment can be ignored! In fact, it also has been scientifically confirmed that it carries the risk of short-term, immediate irritation of the skin, upper part of respiratory system, and eyes.

Are there any formaldehyde-free keratin treatments?

Nowadays, many companies and salon claim that their keratin hair-straightening products are free of formaldehyde. But just because they say it’s formaldehyde-free, this actually doesn’t mean it is!

Technically, the treatment may not contain formaldehyde. But it contains particular ingredients that can release formaldehyde if heated or/and mixed with water! Some of these ingredients include formalin, methylene glycol, methanediol, and methanol.

So it’s unlikely for keratin treatments could strengthen hair for weeks and months with formaldehyde-free. Forget about the words of safe amino acids, keratin, or proprietary conditioners (it’s just a marketing buzzword) – none of these ingredients ‘without formaldehyde’ can provide frizz-free hair through multiple shampoos!

Since keratin treatments with formaldehyde have health risks that may outweigh the benefit, some new treatments are offered for alternatives. Yap, there are some alternative choices to replace the use of formaldehyde.

These include Trissola Solo, Cezanne Perfect Finish, Goldwell Kerasilk, and supersilk smoothing treatment. They are 100 % free of formaldehyde. But the drawback, the result lasts in a few weeks (typically not longer than 2 months). And they also don’t dramatically straighten the frizzy hair as well as what you find with formaldehyde.

Precautions checklists

If you do believe that you can get more benefits from keratin treatment, do it as safe as possible! The following are other tips, facts, and precautions checklists you need to read before taking the treatment:


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