Is a Keratin Treatment Good or Bad for Hair?

The body naturally produces a protein known as keratin—this is what our hair and nails are made of. As the hair industry has progressed, keratin treatments have been developed that can make the hair smoother, reducing frizz and making the hair appear straighter for as long as 6 months depending on at-home care. This process can take up to several hours, so if you or your client is debating on whether or not a keratin treatment is right for them, here are some pros and cons for the decision-making process.    

Keratin Treatment Pros

Smoother, shinier hair. Keratin smooths over the cuticle, which can reduce frizz and give hair a glossy look. The keratin also bonds the hair, temporarily reducing the look of split ends.  

Manageable hair. If your client’s hair is frizzy or thick, a keratin treatment can smooth down the cuticle to make it more manageable and reduce the amount of heat applied to the hair. Since the cuticle is smoothed down, the client won’t need to use heat appliances as much as before, thus less heat damage to the hair.  

Potentially long lasting. Keratin treatment aftercare is key to the longevity of the service. Aftercare instructions to not wash the hair too often (2–3 times per week is recommended, and less is ideal) can make the treatment last up to 6 months.  

Can be used on color-treated hair. If your client has color-treated hair, keratin treatment aftercare is key. Again, the products they use at home and how often they wash their hair is going to be important to the longevity and integrity of their keratin-treated hair.  

Keratin Treatment Cons 

Cost. A keratin treatment can be a costly service depending on which kind and how often the service is done. A single treatment can range anywhere from $250 to $500, not including tip. It is suggested that the treatment not be done more than 3–4 times a year, as it can start to damage the hair if done too often. To give your clients the best benefits of a keratin treatment, summer is usually the preferable time to get it done, especially in humid climates to reduce frizz.  

Chemicals. Some keratin treatments contain formaldehyde, which can be dangerous and cause respiratory issues if inhaled. Not all treatments contain formaldehyde, but it has been an actively popular ingredient in many formulas due to the straightening and bonding benefits it has on the hair. Note that some formulas that do not contain formaldehyde may not be as effective in straightening the hair.  

Maintenance. Keratin treatment maintenance can be a struggle for some clients. If they are avid swimmers, they will want to avoid getting their hair wet in the pool—chlorine can break down the bonding agents in a keratin treatment.  A swimmer’s cap is always recommended when swimming in a pool with chlorine.  

Post-treatment investment in hair products. Shampoos and conditioners that do not contain sodium chloride and sulfates are recommended, so clients may need to invest more money in their at-home routine post keratin treatment. Also, you should recommend avoiding salt-based sprays or creams. 

Not for everyone. If you have a client who is pregnant or a client who has damaged, ultrafine, or brittle hair, a keratin treatment will further compromise the integrity of the hair.  


To recap: If both you and your client are debating whether a keratin treatment is right, have an in-depth consultation. The above keratin treatment pros and cons are great talking points with to determine your client’s lifestyle, what they are looking to get out of the treatment, and what they expect from aftercare.  

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