With Hair Botox, Keratin Treatment, Brazilian Blowout, Cinderella Treatment and some salons adding Keratin with Softening Hybrids to the mix, you might be confused about which keratin treatment is best for you.
We talk to top hair experts from The Bund, Be Salon, 99 Percent Hair Studio, Evolve Salon, COVO Japanese Hair Salon and LeeKaJa Korean Hair Salon to give you the low down on each so you can make a smart choice.
Whether it's Keratin Treatment, Brazilian Blowout, Hair Botox or Korean Cinderella Treatment, they all come under the umbrella of keratin treatments and they all remove frizz without permanently altering your hair's chemical composition.
Here's how keratin treatments in general work:
How strongly that seal works depents on the treatment chosen.
1. Reduces Frizz
This is the major benefit of all types of keratin treatments and why they are so popular.
2. Adds a Layer of Gloss
With a layer of keratin over your hair, it becomes smoother and more glossy, giving it the polish it badly needs. It also becomes easier to comb. Smooth and manageable - that's a double bonus!
Before and after Keratin Treatment
3. Faster Blow-dry
With the keratin coating, your hair becomes more hydrophobic (literally afraid of water) as well so it dries a lot faster. What used to take 10-15 minutes can now be done in less than 5 minutes.
4. Hair is Straightened
Depending on the strength of the keratin treatment, your hair may become straighter to varying degrees.
All the wonderful effects only last as long as the keratin remains on your hair. If you swim regularly, do chemical treatments after the keratin treatment or use harsh shampoos that strip off the layer of keratin, the results may last for only a few weeks.
On the other hand, if you use the right products and choose the right treatment, that tameable, glossy hair you love can last as long as 7-8 months!
2. Hair Becomes Heavier
Because your hair is coated with a layer of keratin, it will feel heavier. This is actually good if you have fine hair. But if you have healthy hair, this may not be something you want because the added weight can drag your hair down, reducing its volume.
Keratin Treatment by Style NA Korean Salon
The major difference among the types of keratin treatments boils down to the size of the keratin molecules in each treatment.
On one end of the scale is Brazilian Blowout which has larger keratin molecules that are perfect for damaged hair. If you look into the cortex of damaged hair, you'll find many "holes". Humidity or moisture gets into these holes and that's what causes hair to become frizzy. The larger keratin molecules in Brazilian Blowouts are perfect for plugging these gaps to soften and enhance hair texture.
On the other end of the scale is Hair Botox. This uses nano keratin that is 0.000000001 the size of your regular keratin treatment molecule. This is best for healthy hair as the molecules are small enough to penetrate even the tiniest fissures of your hair and fill them with keratin to rebuild any damage. Hair Botox also tends to contain more treatments and protein that are good for hair.
In the middle are Keratin Treatment and Cinderella Treatment which have smaller keratin molecules that cater to different levels of hair damage. Keratin Treatment is suitable for hair that is damaged but not badly enough to require Brazilian Blowout. Go for Cinderella Treatment if your hair is mildly damaged.
Not many stylists in Singapore understand keratin treatments to this level of detail. So pick those who do if you want treatment fine-tuned to your unique hair needs.
The first generation Keratin Treatment and Brazilian Blowout concentrated heavily on straightening the hair. So they ended up including a lot of strong chemicals. This allowed the treatments to take the kinks out of even the most coarse and curly of afros.
One such ingredient is formaldehyde. When used in Brazilian Blowout, formaldehyde creates a lot of fumes. If you inhale them (which, let's face it, is highly possible), they might cause allergic reactions. Prolonged exposure may also increase the risk of cancer. While many brands claim they are formaldehyde-free, they use a formaldehyde derivative called methylene glycol, which still releases formaldehyde when heated. This has led to lawsuits in the US.
Here's a list of brands that use formaldehyde compiled by EWG.
As the demand for formaldehyde-free products increased, manufacturers re-focused their attention on treating hair and making it frizz-free rather than straightening it. This has led to second-generation keratin treatments which are better known as organic plant-based keratin treatments or Hair Botox. Due to the absence of formaldehyde, the straightening effect is not as strong. But it is still effective in reducing frizz for longer periods compared to usual hair treatments.
That said, Hair Botox is not for everyone since it only works best if you have fine, frizzy hair. The keratin can thicken your hair without weighing it down TOO much. If you have coarse and frizzy hair, Hair Botox won't be as effective because the chemical composition isn't strong enough to tame coarse hair.
If you're wondering about Cinderella Treatment, it's a form of Hair Botox that is currently very popular in South Korea. Instead of Rebonding, which creates a kink when your hair grows out, Cinderella Treatment lets your hair return to its original state as the keratin is washed off. With organic ingredients like aloe vera, vitamins, and collagen added to the keratin, Cinderella Treatment will turn you from pumpkin to Princess while nourishing your hair.
Cinderella Treatment by LeeKaJa Korean Salon
Stylists at LeeKaJa Korean Salon have mastered Cinderella Treatment so well that they can even do perms after Cinderella Treatments. It may seem strange to straighten your hair only to perm it, but giving your locks Cinderella Treatment restores damaged hair so your perm will work out better.
There are even a few salons such as Ann's Studio that have introduced a new form of keratin treatment that genuinely gives off ZERO fumes.
Rinse-off QOD Keratin at _Ann's Studio @ The Adelphi_
They are able to do this by rinsing off the smoothening chemical before ironing the hair to minimise fumes. The trade-off is that the hair isn't super straight, making this suitable and more long-lasting only if your hair is not too coarse.
Due to the slight differences in chemical composition among the various keratin treatments, the process of each treatment can differ as well. Depending on the brand and stylist, keratin treatments with higher keratin and formaldehyde contents tend to take a longer time - 4-6 hours.
In a typical keratin treatment, this is what you can expect:
Step 1: Hair thoroughly washed
Good salons tend to use sulfate-free shampoo (without conditioner) to really cleanse the hair of dirt and product build-up. This is important because any residual product build-up or dirt makes it more difficult for the keratin to bind around the hair, causing the effects to be less long-lasting.
Goldwell Keratin Shampoo used during Keratin Treatment
Step 2: Keratin applied
Back at the seat, the stylist will divide your hair into sections to make it easier to ensure that the keratin is evenly applied onto every strand of hair.
Application of Keratin Treatment at Evolve Salon
Step 3: Seal keratin with heat
With the keratin applied, the stylist will iron your hair to make sure that the keratin is properly sealed.
Although the step looks simple, how natural the eventual keratin treatment will look depends largely on how consistent the ironing is. Some stylists are very systematic, ironing 5 times on every section of the hair while others will iron it once or twice on the left and 5 times on the right. This uneven handling will affect how uniformly straight your hair turns out.
Sealing the Keratin Treatment with Heat at Evolve Salon
During the sealing process, some stylists like Annie are even able to create C-curl ends so there is a nice bounce to the ends of your hair and you won't need rebonding or perming. How great is that?
Recently, several salons have introduced rinse-off nanokeratin treatments. Such keratin treatments require your hair to be rinsed before ironing. It takes a little longer but there are ZERO fumes during the ironing process!
Rinse-off QOD Keratin at _Ann's Studio @ The Adelphi_
Instead of washing your hair and applying keratin immediately, some stylists choose to apply a softening cream after the rinse. This breaks the bonds within the hair so that when it's ironed later, the frizz is removed and your hair becomes straighter. Sham from Be Salon believes this is a better method as it helps the keratin treatment last longer and is more effective for reducing frizz in stubborn curls.
Checking for hair strength during Keratin Treatment at Be Salon
This, however, is not an easy method to master because softening cream and keratin are not usually used in the same process. It takes skill to estimate just how much the hair needs to be softened before washing off the cream to make way for the keratin.
There have been horrible mix-ups where softening cream and keratin have been applied TOGETHER instead of one after another. The two are incompatible and the result is hair so "fried" that a second Rebonding ends up melting the hair. Yikes!
So select your stylist carefully. Read reviews so you end up with stylists like Sham who won't hurt your hair.
Honestly, there is no one best treatment. It depends on your hair type and what you want to achieve.
If your hair is coarse, curly, or damaged, go for traditional keratin treatments as they are concentrated enough and have molecules big enough to keep even the most wayward hair in check.
Keratin Treatment by Flamingo Hair Studio
If your hair is fine and frizzy but not very damaged, you can consider Hair Botox which contains just the right amount of treatment to strengthen your hair while binding a layer of small-sized keratin molecules around it to make it frizz-free. This is perfect if you want to get rid of your frizz without reducing your volume. The down side is that it doesn't last that long. But much of it also depends on your hair type. Our writer Agent C found that the effect lasted for more than 8 months for her. So yes, it depends quite a bit on how well your hair takes to the treatment and how you care for it after that.
Hair Botox at Chez Vous Hair Salon
Rinse-off QOD Keratin at _Ann's Studio @ The Adelphi_
If you're keen to perm your hair to achieve a C or S Curl after Hair Botox, seriously consider Korean Cinderella Treatment. The Koreans are, after all, the Queens of perm! They created the Korean equivalent of Hair Botox to combine all their other hair treatments. Consider this a Korean upgrade.
Did we mention that keratin treatments can be done on men as well? As long as your hair type is suitable for the treatment, anyone can do keratin treatments!
Keratin Treatment at Kenaris Salon
Other than the presence of formaldehyde, there is one more danger you should know about. This is a secret all hairstylists in the industry know but few ever talk to their customers about. As you know by now, Hair Botox or Rinse Off Keratin Treatment tend to be less effective at taming coarse hair. Yet, they are the keratin treatments most commonly found in Singapore hair salons.
To offer these popular treatments and make them more effective, some unethical stylists actually add Rebonding cream to the keratin to improve the straightening effect. Yes, it does make your hair straighter but the result of adding these incompatible chemicals is hair that becomes overly damaged. If you do a perm or Rebonding after that, your hair will very likely be "fried". That's why the good salons and stylists tend to be very careful when Rebonding or perming hair that has gone through a keratin treatment. Some will even refuse to Rebond or perm your hair if you have had keratin treatments elsewhere. They're not being difficult. They're being safe.
So don't be too happy the next time your hair remains too straight months after a keratin treatment. It may spell trouble for future perming or Rebonding.
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