Posted: Feb 26, 2014 9:00 AM
Keratin got a bad rap after it ruined Jennifer Aniston's hair. What you need to know before you consider getting this chemical treatment.

"'Keratin' has become a catch-all word, but it's actually a specific ingredient that is found in many professional smoothing treatments used by salons," says Steven Camin, owner of Drama Salon in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Camin offers his expertise for the way to make the most of this wonder product.

Keratin works on all types of hair.

"A wonderful quality of keratin smoothing treatments is that they work on an amazing variety of hair textures," says Camin.

Thick and frizzy hair^"Keratin reduces frizz, improves ease of handling and reduces at-home styling time. At home blowouts, for example, don't take as long."

Fine hair with frizz^"On this type of hair that our clients have never, ever been able to handle, the results are spectacular," explains Camin. "The texture is vastly improved — it's as if the client has a new head of hair that can look smooth even when it's not styled at all."

Keratin is "the closest thing to a 'miracle' treatment" that Camin has found.

Keratin is safe for color-treated and highlighted hair.

Yes! "No matter what shape someone's hair is in when they walk through our door, there is almost always a smoothing product that will work with it," says Camin. "And the results should last two to three months."

What potential damage can keratin cause?

If keratin is applied professionally by an experienced stylist, it is an extremely gentle product and even conditions the hair.

"If keratin is applied professionally by an experienced stylist, it is an extremely gentle product and even conditions the hair," says Camin. "The only issue that could arise is if too much flat ironing is done during the process, which could possibly damage the hair shaft. This is usually due not to the product but to a stylist's inexperience."

Find an experienced stylist at a reputable salon.

Camin recommends starting with a consultation. "Ask the stylist how long she has been doing this service and approximately how many she has done," Camin says. "Be aware that salons that offer extremely inexpensive 'smoothing treatments' are often using extremely inexpensive product."

Keratin does not limit your styling options.

"There are no limitations on how one may style hair that has had a keratin smoothing treatment," says Camin. "There will be less curl than before, and that should be considered when planning a particular hairstyle. Otherwise, the sky's the limit!"

The bottom line

Master colorist Kari Hill sums it up very simply.

Pros of keratin

  • Keratin closes the hair cuticle, resulting in less frizzy or textured hair.
  • Keratin acts as a styling aid. Hair requires less heat to style (blow drying or flat ironing), so hair gets less heat trauma and damage.
  • Keratin enables a wash-and-go option with ease.

Cons of keratin

  • Keratin treatments can be expensive.
  • They last only about three months.
  • An inexperienced stylist can damage the hair with the irons during application.

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