Do Keratin Hair Treatments Actually Do Anything? A Cosmetologist Weighs In

If you're frustrated with spending so much time straightening or blowdrying your hair to achieve your hair goals, hair treatments can be major time savers. One of the popular treatments many go for is all about silky smooth hair: keratin hair treatments. These treatments use a chemical formula to give your hair more shine and tame frizz. Depending on a few factors, you can have luscious hair for half the year before needing a redo.

Keratin hair treatments seem like miracle hair treatments, but they also come with some divisiveness over their effectiveness and safety. Anna Peterson, seasoned beauty and wellness professional and the creator of Salon Route, exclusively tells Glam, "Keratin treatments work by infusing the hair shaft with a liquid keratin protein, which is then sealed in with heat. The result is smoother, shinier hair with a reduction in frizz. This works wonders for those with frizzy, unmanageable hair or those who desire a sleek, straight hair texture."

While the science regarding how keratin hair treatments straighten your hair is there, Peterson points out that it's not meant to be a long-term solution. "However, the effects are temporary, usually lasting up to a few months. It's important to note that these treatments don't repair your hair. Instead, they essentially put a coat over the hair strands, giving the illusion of smoother, healthier hair." While silky, smooth hair is appealing, there's more to consider before booking a keratin treatment.

The truth about keratin treatments

Although adding keratin back into your hair to lock it into place seems like a foolproof way of getting frizz-free hair, it's not more than a short-term solution for your hair. "The popularity of keratin treatments is based on a kernel of truth — our hair is primarily made up of this protein. So, theoretically, adding more of it seems like a beneficial approach," Anna Peterson exclusively tells Glam.

This process is straightforward but is only a temporary solution. "It's important to note that these treatments don't repair your hair," explains Peterson. "Instead, they essentially put a coat over the hair strands, giving the illusion of smoother, healthier hair." So, while you will immediately get smooth hair, it's not a long-term solution for unruly hair.

Once the chemicals wear off, the process will dissipate, and you'll need to head back once more. While the immediate appearance of silky hair is appealing, there's more to consider before shelling out for a keratin treatment. Since most hair treatment results will differ depending on how well you care for your hair, especially in the first few days after treatment, your keratin hair treatments could last less time than you may expect.

What to know before a keratin treatment

Besides its short lifespan, the keratin hair treatment comes with a slew of controversies surrounding the chemicals used. "Another caveat is that keratin treatments often include chemicals like formaldehyde, which can pose health risks," Anna Peterson exclusively tells Glam. "So, while keratin treatments can provide a visual boost, they do not inherently improve the health or strength of the hair and come with their own set of considerations."

To add to the divisiveness, the chemicals used in keratin hair treatment can be dangerous with over and frequent use. According to the Cleveland Clinic, formaldehyde is in many of the products we use daily. However, it's strongly advised to avoid the chemical in large quantities, especially when it's going into your body. 

While there are keratin treatments that don't contain formaldehyde, they're significantly less effective than their chemical-infused counterpart. Thankfully there are plenty of ways to get that silky, smooth hair without a chemical hair treatment. Peterson recommends, "For truly healthy hair, focus on good nutrition, regular hydration, and minimal heat and chemical treatment." In the long term, these lifestyle changes can slowly change your hair structure and give you healthy and great-looking hair.