Brazilian Keratin Hair Treatment - Your Questions Answered


By Patrice Grell Yursik on Dec 10th 2009
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When my mother recently told me that I should "look into that Brazilian keratin treatment," I knew there was a phenomenon I was unaware of in my happy, little natural-hair bubble. My sistas who love straight hair have known about this for a while, and now keratin treatments are insanely popular.

To learn more about the procedure, I reached out to an expert whohas been offering the Brazilian hair treatment for four years, and she has been a hairdresser for 25. She gladly answered my questions, and I hope, in turn, to answer yours.

Please keep in mind that English is not Martha's first language. But together, with patience, we were able to sort out all the issues regarding this hot hair treatment!
Why do people seek out keratin treatments in the first place?

"One of the things that bothers most of my clients is the frizz. Here in Miami, the humidity can be very high. This treatment eliminates the frizz. I believe this product makes a huge difference in the texture of hair. It leaves the hair in perfect condition," says Martha.

When Martha first learned about the treatment, there was some concern about the ingredients used. I'm talking about the F word, here.

"When Brazilian treatments began, we thought it sounded like a wonderful treatment for hair, but we were worried about the formaldehyde. So we stopped to investigate before offering the treatments. We aren't supposed to use it anymore, because now we are conscious of the side effects. However, formaldehyde is used in many products. It's even in nail polish! But we never realized the amount we're supposed to use. In this case, the FDA approved 1 percentage. Most of the products used in the market have less than 1 percent. But most of the companies don't use the word formaldehyde. We call it methylene glycol."

I wanted to find out more about the actual process of Brazilian keratin straightening. It turns out, this is the kind of method that really is best done by a professional.
"We use the blow-dryer and flat iron to seal the product. The temperature has to be 450 degrees - has to be very high. It transforms the methylene glycol into formaldehyde. But the percentage is so low that this does no damage to the hair. This particular treatment is amazing. The results are wonderful. I don't know any customer who is unhappy with the treatment. Many other times, we use other chemicals -- highlights, color -- that makes the hair very frizzy, but the Brazilian treatment is external and internal. It doesn't matter if the hair is overprocessed, it will always look much better. It stays in the hair for four or five months. If you have curly hair, it loosens the texture and makes the hair easier to straighten. It's an anti-frizz treatment more than a straightener," says Martha.

Martha has done every kind of hair-straightening treatment, and she far prefers the results of Brazilian keratin, especially when compared to traditional cream-based hair relaxers.

"I like that you can reverse a Brazilian treatment. In three months, your hair releases the treatment. Whereas when you use the other relaxer, you cannot change that. You have to cut the hair because the ends are still processed with it. And the Brazilian treatment doesn't interfere with the other chemicals. However, if someone's using relaxer, and they make a decision to change and use the keratin, their ends are already straight. They will look very nice. But the roots or new growth will look more shiny and pretty. You will notice the difference.

Martha warned consumers to be concerned about the quality of the product. "It's very important that they recommend a shampoo after the treatment. You have to recommend a sulfur-free shampoo. I never realized that so many products and shampoos use sulfur. Why would they do that? It is bad for the hair!"
You should also be careful of who does your treatment. This ain't a DIY kind of thing.

"I really believe that its better if a professional does it. You can't do this well yourself, especially at the back of your hair. And the flat iron has to be very hot. We have to use it continuously. Hair is like a very nice silky blouse, we have to take very special care of it."
I agree with that analogy!


So what does Martha recommend for anyone seeking this straightening treatment?

Step one:
"First the consultation is very important. The company we use here -- the name is Re5 hair keratin treatment -- we have three varieties. One for hair with a lot of frizz, one is for virgin hair and one is for processed hair. The strength depends on the kind of hair you have."

Step two:
"We have a special clarifying shampoo to eliminate the residue of chemicals -- all chlorine. We shampoo the hair a few times, then blow-dry it. But not 100 percent dry. Fine or normal or chemically treated hair needs to be 80 to 90 percent blow-dried, but still a little moist. More dry than wet. No brushing, no conditioner, nothing. The hair has to be ready to receive the cream."

Step three:
"Then we apply the cream, the keratin treatment. Then we blow-dry. The smell can be strong. We try to do it in an open area and clients can wear a mask if they are sensitive to strong smells. I blow-dry the hair to let the product evaporate at a medium temperature. Then we flat iron the hair -- a very small amount at a time. This is a time-consuming part. With short hair, it takes two hours. We have to use a very thin, small amount of hair at a time. The longest it's taken has been five hours. If it's long hair, the steps need to be very slow. Sometimes the treatment is prolonged if the people want to get color or highlights -- they can do that prior to the keratin treatment."
"I don't find anything against the product. If someone wants to do it, first look for a professional -- don't try to save money because this can cost more in the long run! Find a salon that has a great reputation, that uses reputable products and follow the instructions of the products to the letter. The only problem I can see is that people can become addicted to this treatment because it makes the hair look so wonderful," she gushed.
So there you have it, from a stylist who currently specializes in the treatment. Did this answer your questions? Have you had this treatment? Would you? Please share your thoughts with me!