A keratin treatment is a process that often straightens and smoothes hair. Additionally known as a Brazilian keratin treatment or Brazilian blowout. It requires applying products to the hair, blow-drying it, and finishing with a flat iron.
Keratin is a protein found naturally in the skin, hair, and nails. A keratin treatment adds more keratin to your hair, which can reduce frizz, increase shine, and fortify hair. Keratin treatments can also make hair straighter for those with curly or wavy hair. Keratin is a frizzy hair treatment salon and clinic like Nexus Clinic offers.
However, keratin treatments may also cause undesirable side effects and pose potential safety concerns.
Potential side effects
Keratin used in beauty treatments is typically derived from animal skin, hair, or nails. Although keratin is a naturally occurring protein, these products also contain several other ingredients, including the chemical formaldehyde. Here are the possible keratin treatment side effects.
According to the American Cancer Society, formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. This indicates that it may cause cancer or promote its growth. Formaldehyde may also cause additional adverse health effects.
The Food and Drug Administration warns that formaldehyde and related compounds in keratin treatments may cause:
- Ocular irritation
- Aching throat
- Chest pain
Both consumers who received keratin treatments and stylists who administered them have reported experiencing these side effects.
The effects typically occur during or shortly after a keratin treatment with formaldehyde-containing products. It is still unknown whether formaldehyde-containing keratin treatments have long-term health effects and what those effects might be.
The specific advantages of a keratin treatment depend on your hair type and the products employed.
You can generally anticipate the following advantages from a keratin treatment:
Silky hair. Sunlight, hair dye, and other chemical treatments can strip hair of naturally occurring keratin, leaving porous areas that are more susceptible to breakage and other damage. Keratin treatments “refill” areas where keratin has been lost. The result is a smoother hair shaft, which results in silkier, more lustrous hair.
More straight hair. A keratin treatment can straighten curly or wavy hair, depending on the products employed.
With softer curls. True, a keratin treatment does not necessarily result in pin-straight hair. Certain formulations simply reduce frizz, resulting in softer, more manageable curls or waves.
Stronger hair. Keratin treatments can make hair stronger and less prone to breakage by replenishing lost keratin within the hair shaft. Some individuals may be able to grow their hair longer as the strands are less likely to break.
Having hair that appears to be of greater density. A keratin treatment can make hair appear thicker in addition to strengthening it.
If you decide to get a keratin treatment, be sure to let your aestethic doctor know what you hope to achieve from it. They can modify the products and procedures to help you achieve your goals.
What is the severity of the formaldehyde risk?
As part of the problem with formaldehyde in keratin treatments, products may contain significantly more formaldehyde than advertised.
For instance, a 2014 study of keratin brands sold in South Africa revealed that six out of seven products contained formaldehyde levels between 0.96 and 1.4%, which is five times the recommended safe level of 0.2%.
A 2011 study discovered that formaldehyde levels in four different brands of keratin treatments were significantly higher than advertised.
It is important to note that keratin treatments are typically performed in a salon, where others receive keratin treatments throughout the day.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, exposure to formaldehyde levels between 0.1 and 0.5 parts per million (ppm) can lead to nasal and ocular irritation, neurological effects, and an increased risk of asthma and allergies. At concentrations between 0.6 and 1.9 ppm, people may develop eczema or lung function changes.
In the salon, formaldehyde concentrations ranged from 0.08 to 3.47 ppm during the blow-drying phase of a keratin treatment, according to a 2011 study. During the flat-ironing phase of the treatment, the concentration varied between 0.08 and 1.05 ppm. The upper limit of both ranges exceeds what the majority of individuals can tolerate.
If you only receive a single treatment, you may not experience many effects. However, if you are a stylist who frequently works in a salon, this exposure could have a greater effect on your health.
What about alternatives free of formaldehyde?
In recent years, a variety of formaldehyde-free keratin treatments have emerged, but these may also have labeling issues. Five of the brands that tested positive for formaldehyde in the aforementioned 2012 study were labeled as formaldehyde-free, for instance.
In some instances, the manufacturer may list formaldehyde under a different name, such as:
- bonded aldehyde
- formic aldehyde
- methyl aldehyde
- methylene glycol
- methylene oxide
- morbicid acid
In other cases, the product may contain formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, such as:
- diazolidinyl urea
- imidazolidinyl urea
Formaldehyde contributes to the effectiveness of keratin treatments. Therefore, it is difficult to find a product that is 100 percent formaldehyde-free and effective. If you’re considering a keratin treatment, you should first examine the ingredients of various brands. A stylist who specializes in keratin treatments can also be consulted. They frequently offer consultations to help you determine the safest option.
If you are concerned about the risk of formaldehyde exposure, there are alternatives to keratin treatments that produce similar results.
Using a blow dryer or flat iron to apply heat can temporarily smooth your hair.
You can also maintain your health and vitality by keeping your skin moist (especially if you use heat-styling tools).
Hair treatment shampoo can strip natural hair oils, you should wash your hair as little as possible. Try switching to the “no poo” method as well.
You can also apply natural moisturizing products such as:
- olive oil
- argan oil
- coconut oil
- cocoa butter
- sunflower seed oil
Seeking more advice? Nexus Clinic can help you achieve shiny hair.
Keratin hair and scalp treatment can be an effective method for achieving shinier, smoother hair, but they typically involve the use of formaldehyde, which can cause a variety of side effects.
While some manufacturers advertise formaldehyde-free products, many of these still contain formaldehyde in some form.
It is unknown whether occasional keratin treatments have long-term health effects, but you may want to avoid them if you are particularly sensitive or suffer from asthma or allergies.
Additionally, it is best to avoid keratin treatments if you are pregnant or nursing.
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