Everything You Need to Know About Keratin

Keratin is one of the most durable proteins in nature and the main ingredient in the outer layer of hair. When applied to hair via products or a longer-lasting treatment, keratin smoothes, straightens and eliminates frizz.
Your hair type will determine which keratin formula and concentration will deliver the desired sleekness. For example: anyone after frizzles locks can benefit from products that contain keratin but the keratin treatments are best left to coarse and curly hair types. Read on for more info.

Keratin Treatment FAQs

What is it?

A keratin treatment is a temporary straightening process that transforms frizzy, unruly hair into straight, shiny, healthy hair. Using a high-temp flat iron, the keratin treatment is infused into hair, sealing the cuticle and repairing damage. Hair is stronger, smoother and more manageable.

Is it permanent?

Nope. Keratin treatments are temporary, but results last about six weeks. (The more often you wash, the more quickly hair returns to normal.)

Will it work for my hair?

Keratin treatments are best for thick, curly, frizzy or coarse hair. Because it actually repairs hair, keratin treatments are also good for damaged or chemically treated hair (colored, permed, relaxed, highlighted or bleached). Keratin treatments are not intended for fine, straight or thin hair. (Though, this hair type can enjoy the benefits of keratin by using keratin products rather than undergoing the treatment.)

Does it damage hair?

No. Sealing keratin into cuticles can actually repair and strengthen hair.

Keratin Treatment Overview


  • Shine. Softness. Smooth, frizz-free strands that are unfazed by humidity.
  • Moisture and damage repair.
  • Dramatically decreased drying and styling time.
  • Sealed color.
  • No grow out. With regular shampooing, hair slowly returns to its pretreatment state.


  • Wash hair less frequently to maintain the look longer. For maximum longevity, use a shampoo that doesn’t contain Sodium Chloride. A product with UV protection is important too.
  • Exposure to chlorine, salt water or excessive sun exposure will shorten the lifespan of the treatment.
  • Hair can be cut immediately after the treatment.
  • Hair can be colored before or two weeks afterward. (Coloring hair prior to the treatment seals in the color, helping to prevent fading.)

Follow-up Treatments

  • Repeat Keratin Treatments will be applied throughout hair the same way as the first treatment.


  • Success can be skill and tool dependent.
  • Scalp and hair sometimes don’t feel as clean as prior to the treatment.
  • At-home application requires proper tools and precautions.

Shop Keratin Treatments »

Keratin Treatments & Colored or Chemically Treated Hair

Celebrity hairstylist Sally Hershberger of Sally Hershberger salons in New York and L.A. says Keratin can only improve treated hair. The treatment moisturizes and adds to existing chemical treatments already present. It also helps to seal color into hair. The best time to get a keratin treatment is prior to a hair color service, or 10 days after a color treatment. Keratin treatments are also extremely beneficial for hair that has had thermal reconditioning or sodium hydroxide relaxers.


What is Formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is one of the most abundant organic substances in the universe. It is composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and found in things like car exhaust, smoke and smog. Simply: Formaldehyde is a common air pollutant that can be toxic, allergenic and carcinogenic – especially when exposure is high or frequent. Symptoms of reaction range from watery eyes to headaches or difficulty breathing. Many keratin treatments contain formaldehyde or a similar compound that becomes formaldehyde when heated. The Cosmetic Ingredients Review Expert Panel recommends no more than 0.2 percent and many manufacturers adhere to this standard, but some keratin products contain much more. (The FDA doesn’t regulate keratin treatments and doesn’t list formaldehyde as a restricted ingredient.)

What will formaldehyde do to my hair?

Keratin treatments combine high heat, formaldehyde and keratin to break bonds in the hair, which temporarily changes its shape. Then, keratin bonds to hair’s rough edges, coating the cuticle, straightening it and creating smoothness and shine. The process is not damaging. As well as straightening, it repairs hair, improves strength and adds shine.

Formaldehyde-free treatments

For a truly formaldehyde-free treatment, look for products that don’t contain any “hyde” family ingredients.

Other Straightening Treatments

Japanese Straightening vs. Keratin Treatments

  • Japanese straightening thermally and chemically restructures hair bonds, whereas Keratin reconditions hair. (The change is permanent.)
  • Japanese straightening makes hair extremely straight and flat. Keratin treatments allow hair’s natural texture to emerge, especially as they slowly wash out.
  • While the keratin treatment washes out over time. Japanese straightening grows out, which requires upkeep. As a result, Keratin doesn’t last as long as Japanese Straightening, but it also doesn’t involve a grow-out phase.
  • Both Japanese and Keratin treatment applications use high-heat flat irons to close the product into the hair cuticle.

Brazilian Blowouts vs. Keratin Treatments

  • Brazilian Blowouts are “lighter” than keratin treatments. You might consider them a blowout with a bonus.
  • Hair will be frizz-free but less straight.
  • While Keratin treatments have a 3-day no washing period, Brazilian blowouts can be washed immediately.
  • Brazilian blowouts do not contain formaldehyde.

What do I need to do it at home?

  • Keratin Treatment: This product is essential to the keratin treatment process. It will be infused into the cuticle – smoothing, straightening and strengthening your hair. Shop Keratin Treatments »
  • High-temperature Flat Iron: Most treatments require a flat iron that heats up to 400 degrees or higher. The high temperature is necessary for proper application and it’s also helpful for maintaining your treatment. Shop Keratin Treatment Flat Irons »
  • Fine Tooth Comb: You’ll use this when distributing the treatment and to assist with precise flat ironing.
  • Sodium Chloride Free Shampoo: Sodium Chloride (salt) will fade your keratin treatment. Avoid products that contain the ingredient to enjoy longer-lasting straightness. Shop Sodium Chloride Free Shampoos »


More Ways to Enjoy Keratin

Your hair doesn’t have to be entirely unruly to deserve the benefits that Keratin delivers. Shampoos, conditioners and styling products can help you combat frizz and enjoy healthier, more manageable hair every day.

Shop Keratin Shampoos »
Shop Keratin Conditioners »
Shop Keratin Styling Products »


  1. Su mckinney says

    Could you tell me the best shampoo for color treated , fine frizzy hair?
    Can can you use Keratin on colored hair?
    Please advise via email.

    • Natalie@Folica says

      Hi Su-
      We recently launched a new brand to our site called Illumai, that I believe will deliver the results you are looking for. Check out the reasons why you must try it out here: (http://www.folica.com/hair-101/hair-care/7-reasons-why-you-have-to-try-illumai/). I recommend trying the 3 step system – shampoo, conditioner and primer mist – that work together to deliver shine, volume, and manageability.

      To answer your question regarding keratin treatments, the answer is yes – keratin can be used on colored treated hair. Not only will it moisturize your hair, but it will also help to seal color into hair. Be sure to wait at least 10 days after you color hair to schedule a keratin appointment!

  2. Lily says

    I’ve tried keratin treatment and it worked for my frizzy hair. It had an amazing affect.

  3. Carly Thomason says

    I have naturally slightly frizzy and slightly wavy hair. Will keratin still be effective even though my hair is pretty easily straightened with a flat iron

    • Natalie@Folica says

      Hi Carly-
      If you typically style your hair straight, a keratin hair-straightening treatment could shorten your blow-dry time by up to 50%. It doesn’t sound like you have unruly hair to begin with, but it will still be effective in reducing frizz, strengthening the hair shaft and making your hair more resilient.

  4. Ashley says

    My hair is relaxed so it’s already super straight but it tends to get really frizzy when it’s humid. I’ve also been trying to combat hair breakage, is a keratin treatment right for me?

    • Natalie@Folica says

      Keratin treatments offer multiple benefits – It will help to prevent frizz, fly-aways and leave hair smooth, but they work best on thick, curly, frizzy or coarse hair. If your hair is already super straight, fine or thin, then this might not be the best treatment for you. A chemical treatment isn’t the only way to rid your frizz!

  5. Candice says

    I recently got a Brazilian blowout. About 3 weeks ago. I use a keratin Mist almost everyday. How often should I do a deep conditioner treatment that has keratin? I know too much is bad

  6. MALAHAT says

    My hair are fizzy n curly but are thin. Do you suggest keratin treatment..will it make my hair flat.

  7. Good day

    I just had a Brazilian Blowout and would like to know if it is ok for me to use a conditioner that has Sodium Hydroxide and Centrimonium Chloride as an ingredient? Or would that also strip my hair of the Brazilian blowout treatment?

    Thank you for your help.

    • Natalie@Folica says

      It’s best to use natural ingredients so that your hair is not stripped of the treatment.

  8. Tabitha says

    Can relaxed hair use keratin shampoo and conditioners. I would assume it will benefit it

    • Natalie@Folica says

      Yes – just make sure that your shampoo is sulfate free, so it does not strip the relaxer from your hair.

  9. Mona fouda says

    From what is the company of Keratin took the elements (keratin) to make keratin treatment for hair?

  10. Hi
    I was wondering if I can use the keratin shampoo n conditioner without the keratin treatment
    I have a long thick hair and don’t want to go in for the treatment can just the shampoo and conditioner work for me??

    • Natalie@Folica says

      Of course, Keratin shampoo just guarantees that no harsh chemicals are used to ensure that hair is not stripped of the treatment.

  11. Raul M says

    I’m a guy and I got the keratin treatment, I’m just wandering if I can wet my hair to go out or use gel or any type of styling products to get the look.

    • Natalie@Folica says

      Hi Raul- It’s best to wait about 72 hours before you wet your hair or use any type of hair product.

  12. Natalie says

    Are there any other products besides sodium chloride free shampoos, such as leave in conditioners, other conditioners or natural hair care oils or creams that should not be used with the keratin treatment?

  13. Crystal Ramirez says

    Is it safe to straighten my hair after using a product that contains keratin?

    • Natalie@Folica says

      Hi Crystal – Yes, it is safe to straighten your hair. Be sure you use a heat protectant to maintain the health of your hair!

  14. georgia says


    Is it possible to aply keratine treatment at damaged edges only? I have dameged edges (about 7cm) and I am looking for a way to avoid haircut!

    • Natalie@Folica says

      Hi Georgia – This depends on the salon that you go to and if this is a service they offer.

    • Natalie@Folica says

      This might not be the best idea – as it will have less of an effect. Wait it out.

  15. What happens if you don’t wash your hair within the recommended 72hr window? Can hair become damaged or over processed?

    • Natalie@Folica says

      No – Hair will not become damaged. Feel free to wait it out a bit longer for lasting results.

  16. vin says

    Hi I recently got my ash brown color and my hair look very dry…I usually do keratin in every 4/5 months…is it suggested to keratin after hair color as some friends told me that keratin will spoil ma color and make it look orange is it true!?!

    • Natalie@Folica says

      For best results always do the coloring before Keratin treatment.

  17. Sonya says

    Can Keratin smoothing treatments formaldehyde free be applied to hair with henna in it.

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