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Can Keratin Treatment Damage Your Hair?

You’ve probably heard of a keratin treatment and may have even had one yourself. This method promises to deliver silky, shiny hair that’s totally free of frizz. For most of us, that sounds pretty delightful. So why do some women experience hair damage after a keratin treatment? Will you experience hair fall after a keratin treatment?

A keratin treatment, also commonly known as a Brazilian blow-out though there are some differences, is a semi-permanent treatment that straightens the hair to smooth it. However, adding too much keratin to the hair with the wrong chemicals can damage the structural integrity of the hair. But first, what exactly is keratin?

What Is Keratin?


Keratin is the structural protein that makes up our hair and skin cells. It reinforces the hair, protecting it against damage and preventing breakage. At your beauty supply store, you may see products that say they have keratin, which can fix the structure of hair. 

Because it is naturally occurring in the body, keratin is constantly produced, and its production cannot be altered. It can, however, be depleted faster than it is replenished from overstyling.

You’ve probably witnessed this firsthand after a lot of heat styling from straighteners and hair dryers. Without the proper amount of keratin in the hair, it becomes more prone to breakage, leading to dry, frizzy hair that becomes far too porous.

Can Keratin Treatment Damage Hair?

Yes, the keratin treatment can damage your hair if it is not done correctly by a professional.

Why Do Keratin Treatment?

As a treatment, keratin is added directly onto the hair alongside other chemicals that work in concert to seal the hair, making it shiny and smooth. The best treatments should contain glyoxylic acid, which is much safer than formaldehyde, a known carcinogen that was formerly the main ingredient of keratin treatments in years past. 

Once the treatment is applied at the salon, the hair is then blow-dried and sealed at high temperatures with a flat iron. It works on nearly all hair types and should last anywhere from 3 to 6 months. Not only do keratin treatments smooth hair but they also keep freshly colored hair more vibrant. It is also less intensive on the hair than other methods, like relaxers.

So, if all of this can be so great for your hair, how can keratin treatments damage hair?

How Can Keratin Treatment Damage Hair?

The Ingredients

Keratin Treatments - Ingredients

Nowadays, most treatments don’t contain formaldehyde, an odorless gas that is known to be carcinogenic. While many hair treatments boast of being formaldehyde-free, other ingredients commonly used today, like formalin, methanal, and methylene glycol, do become carcinogenic when mixed with water during the treatment process. 

In fact, some salons refuse to do keratin treatments because it can be cancer-causing for their customers as well as for themselves, as they have to breathe it all day.

The Heat

Keratin Treatments - Heat

Here is where trouble arises for certain hair types. A keratin treatment cannot be done without lots of heat to seal it to the hair. If your locks are extra damaged or super fine, this treatment can cause way more harm than good. As for curly hair, a good keratin treatment will not flatten curls but rather leave them shiny and bouncy. 


Keratin Treatments - Wet Your Hair

Sometimes, however, the damage isn’t done during the treatment but happens once you get home. In the days after getting your hair treated, it’s important not to touch it too much. Though it may be tempting, do not touch your hair too much or tie it back.

Additionally, do not get your hair wet, as you risk flooding the hair with too much water and removing much of the newly applied keratin. 

Also, before you go to your appointment, make sure to have a thorough consultation with your stylist to go over any ingredients and to give yourself time to do solid research on any questionable additions.

Yes, keratin treatments can damage hair. While keratin can wreak havoc on your locks, you can still learn how to repair keratin-damaged hair. Nothing is irreversible.

How to Fix Keratin-Damaged Hair

How to Fix Keratin Damage

Don’t be alarmed if a Keratin treatment has left your hair brittle and damaged, or if your curls have been drastically straightened to the point where they fall limp. It is certainly stressful, but there are solutions to fix your hair. 

All hair must strike a delicate balance between protein and moisture levels. Too much or too little of either can create a dry or brittle situation. If you find that too much of your hair is breaking off after a keratin treatment, restoring the levels of moisture in your hair should be your next step. Intensive hydration in the form of deep conditioners and hydrating masks should be used on your hair every week.

There are also products out there that specifically target the damage done by a keratin treatment. A keratin healing oil like L’ANZA will gently condition your hair while sealing breakage. 

It is critical that you stop using any heat on your hair if you notice extensive damage. This will only further ruin your hair. If you must blow dry your hair or diffuse your curls to retain the curl shape, do so on the lowest setting, preferably cool. 

Wearing hair styles that guard against damage is another great option. Half-up styles leave some hair down in the back while tidying up damaged portions so that they stay out of your face and away from any environmental stressors that can cause further damage.

Finally, don’t feel like you need to cut all of the damage off at once. Of course, this is a quick fix, but many of us aren’t willing to part with most of our hair at the drop of a hat. Rather, continually trim your hair, taking off damaged portions as they appear. 

While so much can go wrong with a Keratin treatment, don’t forget that solutions remain to promote repair. Pay special attention to how you care for your hair after the treatment, check ingredients, know your hair type, and focus on the balance between protein and moisture on your hair. Yes, Keratin treatment can damage hair, but it doesn’t have to damage yours.