I first noticed that my hair looked different than my mom’s at the ripe age of four years old. I had my dad’s tight, raven-black curls instead of my mother’s blondish, straight hair, which made me wince while I combed through my strands each morning. Born in the tropical climate of San Juan, Puerto Rico, my family and I soon made our way over to the somehow even more humid Miami. I loved growing up in the lush wonderland—but my hair didn’t.
Constantly frizzy with tiny baby hairs sticking out like a halo above my head, I admired my pre-K peers’ seemingly-perfect smooth hair that stayed put regardless of the weather. Throughout grade school, I launched a fierce fight against my natural texture, leading me towards getting my first keratin treatment for curly hair as a young teen. This is my experience with keratin treatments—and how they helped me learn to love my natural curls.
What Is a keratin treatment?
A keratin treatment, sometimes referred to as a Brazilian blowout, is a professionally-applied chemical process that straightens hair for up to six months. Notoriously lengthy, a keratin straightening treatment can take several hours (I’ve been known to stick it out for four), and also works to reduce frizz.
Keratin treatments boost the keratin proteins you already have in your hair that may be worn down due to heat styling or other factors. By smoothing hair strands at a cellular level, the hair is immediately left straighter and less frizzy, cutting styling time down to minutes. At the salon, you can expect to have your hair thoroughly washed and for the keratin solution to be applied while your hair is still damp. After an extensive wait time, your hair will be blow-dried and ironed with a straightener to seal in the treatment. While some people prefer to wait a few days to wash the keratin out, some treatments can be washed out the next day.
If you regularly blow-out your hair, a keratin hair treatment is a great option to give you that just-blown-out feel without any work at all (it will make your hair naturally shinier, too). That being said, it’s important to be knowledgeable of the treatment’s nuances before booking your salon appointment. The solution can damage your hair if not applied properly, and it should not be done more than three times a year. I once went up to four in a year, which resulted in split ends, so going for the less-is-more approach is best.
For upkeep, regularly deep conditioning your locks and using keratin-infused products like Kérastase Discipline Keratine Thermique Blow Dry Primer and Biolage Advanced Keratindose Pro-Keratin Renewal Strengthening Spray will work wonders in stretching out time between appointments.
My Journey With Keratin Treatments
In the seventh grade, I got the worst haircut in the history of haircuts. It was an angled, razor cut with full front bangs that started short on the left and grew longer towards the right—plus a straight-across, jaw-length curly bob. Gone were the days of being able to just brush my hair up into a ponytail or bun. My jet-black curls were on full display and more coiled than ever. I spent the better part of middle school maneuvering my hair, figuring out the best gels and hairsprays to beat the frizz. Crunchy and sticky rather than smooth, I fought hard against my ringlets—and truly, with myself, too.
When I learned I could get a keratin treatment for curly hair just two years later, I rushed to the hair salon. In my own Princess of Genovia moment at 14 years old, my first keratin treatment truly felt life changing. Running my fingers through my smooth, soft hair, I couldn’t believe it would stay that way even after a wash. Growing up, I had envied straight-haired cousins, friends, and even my own mom for being able to leave the house with wet hair, not thinking about it frizzing up no matter how humid it was outside. Gone were the days of devoting extra time or energy to my hair. My keratin treatments allowed me to feel free of the restrictions I thought my curly hair placed on me.
I continued to get keratin treatments up for all of high school and my first years of college, but by then, I realized I had formed an unhealthy attachment to keratin straightening treatments. I had never gotten over the insecurities attached to having curly hair, and I had forgotten to accept my natural self in the process. For that reason, I decided to nix my keratin treatments for a year and a half, hoping I could love my hair for what it truly was and embrace my curls as a 22 year old woman.
Stopping keratin treatments wasn’t easy for me, but I soon figured out the best ways to style my curls for volume without frizz, such as using the super-smoothing godsend Kérastase Discipline Curl Idéal Cleansing Conditioner. I even got caramel highlights to enhance the look of my texture, although I never thought I would dare to dye my hair. My honey highlights made my curls pop and eased my transition back to my natural texture. Bringing more light to my face and perfect for that summer, I loved my new hair color, and finally liked what I saw in the mirror.
Why I Still Get Keratin Treatments
After almost two years of stopping my keratin treatments, I learned that I could love and appreciate my curls, even on August’s rainiest days. I let it go as wild as it wanted (with the right products of course) and loved ironing it straight whenever I felt like a change. In the end, I went back to my regular keratin treatments, but I did so knowing that it stopped being about societal pressures. Now, getting a keratin treatment for curly hair is my decision, still bringing me joy every time I feel my locks’ smoothness when leaving the salon.
Interested in trying a keratin treatment for yourself? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.