It's truly shocking that I haven't always been a keratin treatment devotee. I have a lot of hair. It's thick, long, naturally wavy (2B S-curls, to be specific), and, for the past two years, bleach blonde—a high-maintenance decision that is laughably at odds with my aggressively low-key approach to haircare. Most of the time, my hair is poofy, dry, and shapeless; a mess that no amount of Shu Uemura Essence Absolue ($69) can rescue. But, on the occasional good hair day, I'm rewarded with an enviable pile of soft, beachy, defined, curly waves—a texture I refuse to let any chemical-heavy straightening treatment take away. After all, those good hair days are good.
My stance on keratin was officially changed during a touch-up appointment at L.A.'s Mèche salon. My color guru and friend Matt Rez suggested that I try out a natural keratin treatment called Cezanne. Rez assured me that the treatment would allow me to maintain my beloved natural waves, sans frizz and effort. The best part? Unlike traditional keratin, Cezanne would let me shower right after the process. I leaped at the chance of getting next-to-perfect hair without having to sacrifice any of my laziness.
Meet the Expert
What is Cezanne Keratin Hair Treatment
The Cezanne keratin treatment semi-permanent hair treatment that smooths and adds shine to frizzy hair. Mèche colorist Tania Whittier, who has embraced the Cezanne treatment as her specialty, says that she first learned about the natural keratin alternative the same way many of her clients do: while seeking out a formaldehyde-free substitute to traditional smoothing treatments. Formaldehyde is incredibly effective at penetrating deep into the hair cuticle and providing optimal smoothness, but it's also a known carcinogen. Cezanne treatments give you the benefits of typical keratin treatments, without the drawbacks.
While safety should be the top priority, efficacy is important too. Whittier says that Cezanne is the first of its kind to deliver the five-star, frizz-free results her clients are seeking. "Formaldehyde treatments are done by pushing the keratin into the cuticle with heat, and the formaldehyde acts as its finishing product," she says. "It gives the illusion of shine, but over time, the hair becomes dry because it's too harsh on the hair, especially fragile hair. Cezanne uses lemon and crab apple extracts to gently open the cuticle of the hair to allow the keratin to enter the cortex."
Benefits of Cezanne Keratin Hair Treatment
- Customizable depending on desired results
- Can wash hair immediately post-treatment
- Natural ingredients
Cezanne treatments "restore bonds that are broken from thermal services, but using a low PH, and is comprised of natural healing ingredients such as Aloe Vera, Vitamin C, E, B3, B5, and B6, and lemon, apple, and green tea extracts," says hair and beauty expert Savannah St. Jean. The other thing that makes Cezanne unique, and the factor that ultimately convinced me to take the plunge, is that it's truly customizable to a targeted texture.
How to Prepare for Cezanne Keratin Treatment
"The beauty of this treatment is that no preparation is needed!" says St. Jean. "Simply show up to your scheduled appointment with your trained Cezanne Hair Treatment Stylist, and be prepared to walk out with maintenance-free smooth hair!" You can choose to wash your hair beforehand, if you prefer, or wait until after the treatment has been completed.
What to Expect During a Cezanne Keratin Treatment
"Expect to be in your stylist's chair for approximately three hours. It could be shorter or longer depending on your hair thickness, length, and texture," says St. Jean. "During this time, the treatment will be applied to your hair, then it will be left to process, rinsed, blow-dried, and flat ironed." After the treatment is applied and blow-dried, a flat iron is used to seal the keratin. If I wanted to go really straight and sleek, Whittier would just pass over my strands several times with the flat iron and use more heat. But, I love my waves, so I requested that we maintain as much of my natural bend as possible, while eliminating all frizz and dryness.
All in all, the treatment took less than two hours from start to finish—barely a blip compared to the time I'm used to spending at the salon. I walked out with hair that was stick-straight but oh so smooth. Whittier promised that as soon as I washed my hair—which I was allowed to do immediately—it would air-dry to a softer, smoother version of my original texture. Impatient, I dunked my head in the sink as soon as I got home. Shocked—and overjoyed—I marveled as my waves began to reappear bouncier, softer, and shinier than ever before.
Cezanne Keratin Treatment vs. Regular Keratin Treatment
These two types of treatments are extremely similar as far as results go, with the Cezanne option being a bit healthier for you and your hair over time. "I have found amazing results from Cezanne! The quality of smoothing received has been extremely comparable to any other keratin smoothing treatment I’ve used, but has the benefit of a more natural ingredients list than others," says St. Jean.
Potential Side Effects
Side effects of a Cezanne treatment are minimal to non-existent. You can wash your hair, swim, etc. right away, and the treatment won't weaken the hair follicle over time the way similar options might. Keep in mind that "if you seek a ton of volume, this may not be the service for you," notes St. Jean. "With the smoothness it produces, your hair will inevitably lose volume. This service does need to be completed every two to three months to maintain the desired look, so there is a little bit of maintenance you need to prepare for."
Price will vary depending on your hair, location, and how high-end the salon you attend happens to be, but Cezanne treatments and regular keratin treatments should cost about the same. At Mèche, both services will run you $450. At Savannah Rae Beauty, smoothing treatments start at $250 and go up from there.
The Final Takeaway
My main priority with the natural treatment was to repair my breakage from bleach and eliminate my frizz. To be transparent, my texture definitely lost some of its bend, especially in the weeks immediately following the treatment. My 2B waves fell into a more tousled, 2A structure. But it still looked like my hair, and the wash-and-go ease of it all made the treatment completely worthwhile. After around two months (Cezanne can last up to four), my original texture slowly started to return, while the frizz that typically accompanies it stayed far, far away. The next time my new, soft, healthy hair and I were back in Rez's chair, he says, "This was such a good decision for you." I couldn't agree more.
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Formaldehyde. Updated January 17, 2020.