"Hair Botox" Is a Thing (but It's Not What You're Thinking)

person holding hair in a ponytail

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If you're familiar with Botox, a treatment in which botulinum toxin is injected into muscles to relax them for wrinkle-free skin, then the name "hair botox" might cause you to raise a brow (that is, if you don't currently have Botox in your forehead preventing you from doing so). Without muscles to relax or wrinkles to remedy, why would your hair need Botox? If you take into account the way injectables smooth skin, "hair botox" is the perfect nickname for a deep-conditioning hair treatment—which is exactly what it is.

"Despite having 'Botox' in its name, there actually is no Botox (botulinum toxins) involved," explains cosmetic dermatologist Michele Green, MD. "Hair botox is a deep conditioning treatment that repairs the damaged and broken hair fibers, which can be a result of stress and heat on our strands." To learn all about this hair service, and deep-conditioning treatments, in general, we turned to Green as well as trichologist and co-founder of Fourteenjay Salon, David Adams, and hairstylist and artistic director of Paul Labrecque Salon and Skincare Spa, Paul Labrecque. Keep reading for all the benefits of hair botox.

Meet the Expert

Hair Botox

Hair botox is a deep conditioning hair treatment designed to repair the damaged and broken hair fibers, using ingredients such as caviar oil, antioxidants, vitamin B5, vitamin E, and collagen complex.

Hair Botox

Type of ingredient: A deep-conditioning hair treatment

Main benefits: Repairs damaged hair, adds moisture and shine, softens, and smoothes.

Who should use it: Green says, in general, hair botox is considered safe to use for any hair type.

How often can you use it: According to Green, a hair botox deep conditioning treatment can last three to four months.

Works well with: Scalp treatments. Adams stresses the importance of maintaining a healthy scalp through scalp treatments every two weeks to once a month in order to have all-around healthy hair. Green adds, "The health of the hair follicle plays a major role in the health of the hair, so when you have a clean, well-functioning scalp, you will in turn have healthy strong, shiny hair that grows."

Don't use with: Because hair botox is a concentrate that contains many ingredients rather than a single ingredient, there's nothing in particular.

Benefits of Hair Botox

Not to be confused with a keratin treatment, which is a chemical treatment that smoothes hair and gets rid of frizz, hair botox is a non-chemical, deep-conditioning treatment that allows your hair to feel smoother and more hydrated. Green explains that many keratin treatments include the chemical formaldehyde, which is used to lock and freeze hair strands into a straight position, while hair botox feeds your hair natural ingredients. Because there is no set list of ingredients that are required to be included in a treatment for it to be called "hair botox," and the components often change depending on the brand of the product, it's hard to say exactly how the hair might benefit from one. With that said, Green and Labrecque point out a few things commonly found in a hair botox treatment: caviar oil, antioxidants, B5, vitamin E, and collagen complex. Here's how those ingredients can potentially benefit the hair:

  • Fights free radicals: Caviar oil contains vitamins, which are important for fighting free-radical damage. As Adams explains it, free radicals are in the environment, and the body produces a natural antioxidant that fights the free radicals. But as the body ages, its defense mechanism gets less, and the free radicals start to attack the hair, which causes oxidative stress in aging hair (meaning it degrades or ages the hair). Hair botox contains antioxidants, B5, vitamin E—all of which fight the free radicals.
  • Repairs damaged hair: Collagen, one of the ingredients in hair botox, is protein, and Adams explains that protein is crucial for hair that’s dry, broken, brittle, or damaged through chemical processes and heat styling. Eating a well-balanced diet with protein would be most effective, but protein can also be applied to the strands through treatments and shampoo.
  • Adds moisture: Hair needs moisture and hydration to stay healthy and breakage-free, and deep-conditioning treatments, like hair botox, are key for moisturizing strands and improving elasticity.
  • Restores softness and shine: If your hair is looking dull, feeling rough, and in need of nourishing oils, Green says this deep-conditioning treatment can help restore softness, and add shine.
  • Smoothes strands: Green adds that hair botox can transform even the most damaged head of hair into smooth, fuller strands with generally less frizz, thanks to oils that help seal the cuticle.

Hair Type Considerations

Green says unlike keratin treatments, which are best for thick, curly hair that's prone to frizz, hair botox is considered safe to use for any hair type and is particularly effective when addressing common hair concerns, like split ends, thinning hair, lack of volume, damaged hair, and dullness. Labrecque adds that while keratin treatments will actually straighten hair and remove frizz, hair botox is more so designed for those with healthier, thicker hair.

When speaking about deep-conditioning treatments more generally, Adams says everyone could use one. "Everybody needs a hair treatment, and every hair needs protein or moisture," Adams explains. "I have yet to meet the person who has perfect conditioned hair, whether they have natural hair or color-treated hair or chemically treated hair—everybody needs to look after the condition of their hair."

How to Use Hair Botox

Although hair botox is offered as an in-salon service, the deep-conditioning treatment can also be applied at home, depending on the product. As Green explains it, after washing and completely drying your hair, the deep-conditioning formula is then applied (either by yourself or by a hairstylist) to the length of the strands. After 30 minutes (or the amount of time specified on the product), the hair is rinsed and styled to reveal shinier, softer, and smoother strands.

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