For some of us, searching for different ways to get smoother, more manageable strands can feel like the never-ending journey. For a while, keratin treatments were a popular solution to frizzy hair—and lately, we couldn’t help but notice that they seem to be trending again. Joey Honeymar, a frizz expert and colorist at Nine Zero One salon in Los Angeles, confirms that it isn’t just our imaginations: Keratin treatments are making a comeback.
So, I decided to visit Honeymar at Nine Zero One to receive a keratin treatment myself.
“People got really scared of them for a while because they were too aggressive, and there were too many reports about the chemicals in them,” shares Honeymar. “They had a bad rap.” Cue the not-so-distant memories of exhaust fans blowing on burning eyes and scary accounts of toxic chemicals (like formaldehyde) being used in the formulas.
“Since then, a lot of brands have come out with better quality treatments with lower levels of chemicals,” he explained, as he sectioned my shampooed hair and applied Goldwell’s Kerasilk Smoothing Treatment evenly throughout (which I’m happy to report didn’t cause any irritation or burning eyes).
Some keratin treatments can cause your color to fade, so it’s recommended that you schedule your color appointment after a keratin treatment, not before. I found that my hair got lighter, which I happened to like. He then blew my hair dry and flat-ironed it straight by taking small sections at a time. “The biggest mistake stylists make when doing keratin treatments is using the same temperature of 450 degrees [for all hair types],” he says. Honeymar prefers to keep two irons out and set one lower to 350 degrees for hair that's been highlighted or damaged through lightening.
Unlike other keratin treatments I've done in the past, this one didn’t require the product to “cure” in my hair for two days. Immediately after he styled my hair straight, he washed it again and blew it out. From start to finish, it took about an hour and a half. Afterward, my hair was silky to the touch. It looked so beautiful and healthy that later that day, I got stopped in the street and asked where I got my “haircut.” I also posted to Instagram stories (as one does) and got so many DMs about how shiny my hair looked.
Of course, like with any treatment, a keratin treatment isn’t one size fits all. Ahead, Honeymar shares tips on what to know before your first keratin treatment, and more questions to ask your stylist to make sure you’re going in armed with the knowledge you need.
Byrdie: What is keratin?
Joey Honeymar: Keratin is a protein that makes up the main structure of your hair and skin. A keratin treatment is a chemical process used to smooth hair.
Byrdie: Are keratin treatments safe?
JH: When it’s done properly, it’s safe. However, it is not all-natural.
Byrdie: Who is a good candidate for a keratin treatment?
JH: Clients with thick, curly and frizzy hair who want to minimize volume, tame curl, and cut down on blow-dry time.
Byrdie: Who shouldn’t get a keratin treatment?
JH: People with compromised hair, pregnant women, and people who are prone to allergic reactions from chemical processes, such as hair dye and color. Always get a consultation first and do your own research. Be your own advocate and find stylists who are using the best brands.
Byrdie: What questions should you ask during your consultation?
JH: Ask if the keratin treatment will cause any damage to your hair. If the answer is yes, then it’s not the treatment for you. If your hair is previously compromised, a keratin treatment can cause damage. For example, if your hair has been lifted too light with lightener and you have breakage, it [could make that] breakage worse.
Byrdie: How long does a keratin treatment last?
JH: Depending on the client’s hair, keratin can last anywhere from three to six months. I recommend having the treatment done no more than twice a year.
Byrdie: Does a keratin treatment affect new hair growth?
JH: Your hair grows back in its natural state. However, previously treated hair may remain smoother and straighter than the re-growth.
Byrdie: Are there different kinds of keratin treatments?
JH: There are different brands of keratin treatments, but the overall effect is similar, if not the same.
My go-to brands include: Goldwell Kerasilk Smoothing Treatment, Lasio, Cezanne Perfect Finish Keratin Smoothing Treatment, and Global Keratin GK.
Byrdie: What’s the difference between a keratin treatment and a Brazilian blowout?
JH: You're going to get more longevity out of a keratin treatment. While both of these treatments smooth hair, a keratin treatment will be stronger on the hair and last longer. Keratin is recommended for thick, overly curly/voluminous hair.
Byrdie: What’s a normal price range for a keratin treatment?
JH: Depending on the salon, a keratin treatment can cost anywhere from $250 to $500. If you're going to somebody who is well-trained and knowledgeable in a reputable product, that's more than a fair starting price. Anything below that could be questionable.
Byrdie: How should you care for your hair after a keratin treatment?
JH: First, some keratin treatments will "cure" on the hair anywhere between 24 to 48 hours after a service is completed in the salon.
After a treatment, I recommend a sulfate-free shampoo and follow with a conditioner. For hair that’s particularly dry, swap in a hydrating hair mask.
Next up: Discover how exactly keratin treatments work to smooth your hair.