What is a Keratin Treatment on African American Hair and What Can it Do For You?
Keratin treatments have emerged as a beacon of hope for black women seeking smoother, straighter locks. Maybe you’ve heard some of the purported benefits - but what is a keratin treatment on African American hair, exactly? More importantly, is it the right choice for you?
While the appeal of these treatments is undeniable, there is more to the story than meets the eye. Just as we did in our breakdown of African American hair transplants, we want you to be fully aware of the good, the bad, and the ugly of a keratin treatment for African American hair.
So, you’ll also discover a few safer alternatives to consider. That being said, should you decide to give this treatment a try, we’ll also help you choose the best keratin for African American hair and walk you through using it safely.
What is a Keratin Treatment For African American Hair?
First things first - what is a keratin treatment for African American hair?
Defining Keratin Treatment
A keratin treatment is a popular hair straightening and smoothing procedure that has taken the beauty world by storm, especially among African American communities where the quest for manageable, frizz-free hair is a common goal.
Keratin is a protein naturally found in hair, nails, and skin. It is applied to the hair shaft during the treatment to create a protective layer that aims to add shine, reduce frizz, and make hair easier to style.
How It Works: The Science Behind Keratin Treatments
Keratin begins to fill in the porosity of the hair shaft upon application, resulting in smoother strands. The hair's cuticle, which may be rough or lifted due to damage, is sealed during the process.
Heat is then applied, usually in the form of a flat iron, to lock in the keratin and straighten the hair. This process alters the hair's natural structure, temporarily making curly or wavy hair appear straighter and smoother.
This treatment is particularly beneficial for African American hair. Why, though - how is black hair different from white hair in this regard?
It tends to be more prone to dryness and damage due to its unique structure. The treatment helps in replenishing the lost protein, making the hair more resilient against breakage and environmental damage.
However, it's crucial to understand that while keratin treatments can provide outstanding results, they are not a permanent solution and require maintenance and proper aftercare to preserve the achieved look. That being said, let’s get right into the debate - is keratin good for African American hair?
Is Keratin Good For African American Hair?
You’ll find arguments for and against keratin treatment for African American hair, which will leave you more perplexed than before. So, let’s tune out the noise and just focus on the facts to help you determine if this treatment is worth it or not.
The Benefits of Keratin Treatment For African American Hair
Keratin treatments can be particularly advantageous for African American hair, which is often more susceptible to frizz and can be tougher to manage due to its unique texture.
Keratin application leads to smoother, shinier, and less frizzy hair, making it easier to comb, style, and maintain on a daily basis. This is something we talk a bit more extensively about in our guides on how to detangle matted African American hair and how to keep African American hair from frizzing in humidity.
Moreover, for those transitioning from chemically relaxed to natural hair, a keratin treatment can serve as a less damaging alternative to permanent straightening options. It offers a way to manage diverse textures during the transition period, providing a smoother look while preserving natural curls.
Side Effects to Be Aware Of
It’s important to look at both sides of the coin and determine if the upside outweighs the potential side effects associated with keratin treatments.
One of the main ingredients in many keratin treatments is formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing chemicals, which can cause adverse health effects when inhaled including irritation of the eyes, skin, and respiratory system. Prolonged exposure has been linked to more serious health concerns.
Additionally, the heat required to activate the treatment can be intense. There is a risk of hair damage and breakage when not done correctly. It’s crucial to ensure that the treatment is performed by a trained professional to mitigate these risks (We’ll still discuss how to perform a keratin treatment at home for African American hair but do advise you to hire a professional for the task).
While many celebrate the straightening effect, others may find that their natural curl pattern is altered, even after the treatment has worn off. This is something to consider, especially for those who are fond of their natural texture.
This is a good point in our conversation to let you know that you can get many of the same effects of a keratin treatment on African American hair without the sketchy chemicals or risk of damage.
We have guides on how to make African American hair curly without heat, how to dye African American hair without damaging it, how to straighten African American hair without damaging it, and more to help you avoid damaged hair as a black woman.
Which Keratin Treatment is Best For African American Hair?
If you decide you want to try keratin for African American hair, finding the best keratin for African American hair is the obvious starting point.
So, which keratin treatment is best for African American hair? Let’s first discuss ingredients and certifications to look for before sharing a few potential candidates.
Key Ingredients to Look For (and What to Avoid)
First and foremost, ensure that the product is formaldehyde-free to avoid potential health risks. We also advise you to steer clear of sulfates and parabens. Instead, opt for natural ingredients like:
- Botanical Extracts: Ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile, and green tea can soothe the scalp and strengthen the hair.
- Natural Oils: Oils such as argan, coconut, and olive provide hydration, add shine, and help to repair damaged hair.
- Amino Acids: These are the building blocks of protein, which is vital for hair strength and resilience. Look for treatments that include a variety of amino acids.
So, What is the Best Keratin For African American Hair?
While we don’t endorse any product other than the best hair growth products for black women here on our website, we do want to mention three products we’ve seen making the rounds as the best keratin for African American hair specifically:
- Chi Enviro Smoothing Treatment: Tailored for all African American hair types. Rather than straightening, it aims to prolong the duration of your style between washes, battle humidity, and strengthen hair. It smells great and many report feeling their hair strengthen over time. The results can last up to 12 weeks.
- Brazilian Blowout: This product accommodates all hair textures too, promising to soften curls and waves without completely eliminating them. This is one of the pioneers in the U.S. keratin treatment scene, and there’s a reason it’s still mentioned today. It is renowned for its consistent results and longevity, sometimes lasting up to six months in cooler climates.
- Keratin Complex: Keratin Complex offers options to suit different preferences. The original express formula, in particular, is known for its simplicity and mild approach. It provides humidity resistance like other treatments but is comparatively lighter, resulting in defined curls and enhanced styling.
Now, the best way to feel confident getting a keratin treatment is to leave it to your stylist. Don’t attempt to do this yourself if you don’t have a background in cosmetology or hair care.
That being said, if you are simply interested in how the process works, we’ll talk about how to do a keratin treatment on African American hair below.
How to Do a Keratin Treatment on African American Hair: Step-by-Step Guide
Ready to learn how to do a keratin treatment on African American hair? We’ve broken the process down into three simple steps below.
Your hair should be in optimal condition prior to a keratin treatment to ensure the best results. Start by thoroughly washing your hair with a clarifying shampoo to remove any build-up and open up the hair cuticles.
Do not use a conditioner as this can hinder the absorption of the keratin. Ensure your hair is completely dry before moving on to the next step, as the treatment works best on dry hair.
Actually Applying the Treatment
There are five steps to applying your keratin treatment on black hair:
- Section the Hair: Divide your hair into manageable sections, depending on its thickness and length. This ensures an even application.
- Apply the Treatment: Wear gloves to protect your hands and use a brush to apply the keratin treatment section by section, starting from the roots and working your way down to the ends. Be thorough but avoid using too much product.
- Ensure Even Distribution: Comb through each section with a fine-toothed comb to ensure the product is evenly distributed.
- Leave it to Process: Allow the treatment to sit in your hair for the time specified in the product’s instructions. This is usually around 30 minutes but can vary.
- Rinse and Dry: Rinse your hair thoroughly with warm water. Do not use shampoo. Then, blow-dry your hair completely.
Post-Treatment Care and What to Expect
Even with your keratin treatment now applied to your hair, the job is far from finished. In fact, this is where the real work begins:
- Flat Ironing: Once your hair is dry, use a flat iron on small sections to seal in the treatment. The heat activates the keratin.
- Wait Before Washing: Wait at least 48 hours before washing your hair again to allow the treatment to set. Our guide on how often should black people wash their hair is worth reading for more information.
- Use Sulfate-Free Products: When you do wash your hair, use sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner to maintain the treatment’s effects and prolong its longevity.
- Enjoy the Results: Your hair should now be smoother, shinier, and easier to manage. The effects typically last around 2-3 months, depending on your hair type and maintenance routine.
Alternatives to Keratin Treatments for African American Hair
Before we bring this guide to using keratin on African American hair to a close, we want to circle back to a point we touched on earlier: there are other ways to make your hair do what you want it do without heat or sketchy chemicals!
So, here are a few alternatives to keratin treatments for African American hair you may consider.
Heat-Free Styling Techniques
Twist outs and braid outs are both stellar options for achieving defined curls without the need for heat. You encourage a natural curl pattern that’s both stunning and heat-damage free by allowing your hair to set in twists or braids.
Similarly, you can consider using a flexi-rod and perma rot sets. These tools can help create a variety of curl sizes and are a fantastic way to style hair without direct heat.
Natural Oils and Butters
As you’ll learn in our black hair guide, we always recommend using natural oils in your black hair care routine. Here are a few of our favorites that may help you achieve a similar result to keratin on African American hair:
- Shea Butter: This natural goodness is revered for its moisturizing properties. In our guide on how to moisturize dry brittle African American hair, you’ll discover that shea butter seals in moisture while adding a healthy sheen.
- Coconut Oil: This oil is a powerhouse for hair, aiding in moisture retention and providing essential fatty acids for hair health.
- Castor Oil: This is a favorite in the African American hair community for promoting African American hair growth and thickness.
Homemade treatments using ingredients like eggs, mayonnaise, or Greek yogurt can provide a protein boost to strengthen hair strands with a lower risk of damage.
Holistic Hair Care Practices
At the end of the day, many of your hair goals can be achieved through a simple, holistic hair care routine.
Whether it’s how to regrow edges of African American hair or how to regrow bald patches in African American hair, or even a dry flaky scalp African American hair you’re struggling with, these tips will help you unlock healthier, more workable hair:
- Scalp Massages: Regular scalp massages can stimulate blood flow, encouraging hair growth and overall scalp health.
- Proper Detangling: Using wide-tooth combs and detangling products can prevent breakage and ensure your hair stays strong and healthy.
- Moisture Balance: Maintaining a balance between protein and moisture is key for African American hair, ensuring it stays resilient without becoming overly brittle.
Final Wrapping Up Our Guide to Keratin Treatment on African American Hair
While a keratin treatment on African American hair may offer a sleek finish, it comes with considerations that you will have to weigh yourself. We've navigated through the essentials, from understanding the treatment and its effects to spotlighting the best products tailored for your unique hair texture.
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