Many women with frizzy hair swear by their keratin treatment. Even Meghan Markle used keratin treatments to tame her locks, reportedly. This treatment comes with plenty of benefits, including reduced drying and styling time, a sleek finish, and fewer worries about bad hair days due to humidity or rain. If you have less than smooth hair, you’ve probably heard of the chemical smoothing process, which can last as long as six months depending on how frequently you wash your hair, according to The Cut. Perhaps your stylist recommended one, or you may know a friend who’s had one of the almost-miracle treatments, also known as a Brazilian blowout or smoothing treatment (via InStyle). Sometimes the luxurious keratin service includes liquid gold. 

The variety of different names can be confusing because not all services are created equal. “People use different names for different treatments interchangeably, which is just incorrect,” Meri Kate O’Connor, hairstylist and colorist at Tabb and Sparks salon in Los Angeles, told Marie Claire. It’s important to know what treatment you’re getting before shelling out the money and time it takes to undergo the chemical process. Choosing the wrong product probably won’t end as disastrously as the Gorilla Glue saga, but it is essential to know what you’re paying for. Here are several more considerations before getting the expensive treatment, which normally happens at a salon.

Pros and cons of keratin treatments

Per The Cut, one con for traditional keratin treatments is that it can release formaldehyde, a known carcinogen when heated. However, “many newer versions, like Manhattan hairstylist Arsen Gurgov’s proprietary ‘Rio’ keratin treatment, are formaldehyde-free,” the publication reported.

Other potential downsides are how long it takes to complete the service and the amount of time you have to go without touching your mane. The time commitment for the treatment depends on your hair but you should typically allow from two to four hours. Factors that affect the application time include your hair’s texture, length, and thickness.  If you have curly hair and love it, choose a smoothing treatment, but Marie Claire recommends the full Brazilian blowout if you want it to look blown out perfectly. Expect to keep your hands off your newly shiny locks for at least three days. 

The cost could also be prohibitive, with many keratin treatments starting at $250 and going as high as $500, depending on which product you choose (via Cosmopolitan). In addition to the salon service, you’ll need to ensure you use sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner, washing your hair only when necessary.

Before taking the plunge, know what level of risk you’re willing to accept for smoother locks. Unfortunately, to achieve the type of frizz-free shine offered by keratin treatments, “your hair will be doused in some chemicals that might not be FDA-approved,” as reported by Marie Claire. Even formaldehyde-free products may contain traces of the chemical.

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