If you want to quit your flatiron and experiment longterm with a straighter look on your natural waves or curls, a keratin treatment is a good place to start. Often referred to as a “Brazilian Blowout,” (it’s just the name of a brand that popularized the treatment), the service “definitely changes the texture of the hair, and is mostly used to get rid of frizzy hair or make curly hair straight, or both,” explains Rob Peetoom Master Stylist, Linda de Zeeuw.
Although she has natural curls, Meghan Markle is reportedly a fan of the beauty service. Her former London-based hair stylist Theonie Kakoulli at Nicky Clarke said she does keratin treatments to maintain her currently preferred straight and silky look. “Meghan came to see me at least twice for keratin treatments,” Kakoulli told PEOPLE. “It’s great for people with naturally curly hair like Meghan, it takes the frizz out and makes it more manageable—she said it made a real difference.”
Read on for answers to other questions we’re sure you’re asking about the popular treatment.
Keratin is a chemical treatment.
Formaldehyde is required to get the hair straight. While the chemical has a bad rap (it is a carcinogen that could possibly cause respiratory problems if exposure is frequent), “we always make sure that when you get the treatment, you’re sitting close to a door, or in a well-ventilated room,” de Zeeuw says. It is also suggested to wear protective glasses for sensitive eyes, which might start welling.
It’s not necessarily bad for your hair.
de Zeeuw notes that those with chemically damaged hair are a good candidate for a keratin treatment. “It helps make hair stronger because keratin is a natural ingredient of human hair,” she says, adding that clients with color treated hair tend to be good candidates because “you lose keratin if you lift off your color with bleach, highlights, or a balayage.”
If your hair is so damaged you have split ends, though, the treatment won’t work as well. You’re better off getting a trim first. “You can repair the hair that is still intact, but split ends that are actually broken, you cannot repair them with a keratin treatment,” she explains.
Results can last for up to three months.
“You will see the curls or the little frizzes appear a little bit after 10 weeks,” de Zeeuw explains. When you start noticing your texture reappearing is when it’s time to book your next appointment. The good news is that your hair will get straighter over time the more you “train” your hair to keep results longer by doing back to back keratin treatments.
A keratin treatment takes around two hours start to finish.
Here’s how the process works: First, you’ll get a really good, clarifying shampoo to get any product or buildup that may be on your hair completely out. “We want to strip the hair as clean as possible with the shampoo,” de Zeeuw says. Then, section by section the keratin product, which disrupts your natural curl pattern and causes it to straighten, is applied and combed through, then blow-dried.
After you’re dried, your hair gets straightened with heat. “The straightening part is actually the part where the keratin locks into the hair,” she says, adding that she would adjust heat and number of times she passes each section depending on what look her client wants: higher heat and seven to 10 iron passes for stick-straight; lower heat and three to five times to keep some wave.
After your hair is straightened, you rinse your hair one more time but don’t shampoo it, then another locking product is applied to ensure it stays for the full three months. The whole process takes about two hours.
Wait two days after a keratin treatment to wash you hair.
“It is very important that you use a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner,” de Zeeuw says. “Sulfate is the ingredient that gives you foam, but it can take the keratin out of your hair a little faster.” If you have dyed hair, the color may also fade so you may need to return to the salon for a color touch-up/toner after the 48 hours.
As far as heat styling goes, once those 48 hours are up, you can fix your hair as usual—it will just air dry straighter, which could be a significant time saver.
Price depends on the amount and length of hair.
de Zeeuw says location can also determine cost (in big cities like New York, it will always be more expensive). “We charge $350 and up,” she says. “If you have a lot and very long hair, we could add $100-150 onto that treatment.” Since results last for as long as three months it may be worth more than paying for blowouts every week.