Risks Involved in Keratin Treatment by Reward Me

Health Risks of Keratin Hair Treatment & its Side Effects

Keratin hair treatment is a popular hair smoothing process that defrizzes your hair. Learn about the pros and cons of this treatment.


There is a lot of buzz in the media about the beautiful results one can achieve with keratin treatments. The idea of a keratin salon treatment is to make hair smoother, sleeker, straighter and easier to style. Unfortunately the health risks and side effects associated with this kind of treatment are unknown to the consumer. It’s important get the whole picture before going in for a Keratin hair treatment.

Here is the down low on Keratin.

Keratin is a protein that exists naturally in hair. The treatment is initiated with the stylist applying a mixture of keratin and formaldehyde (a strong preservative) to the hair, which fills in the gaps in each hair shaft and then “seals” the mixture into the hair follicles using an extremely hot flat iron. At this high temperature, the liquid formaldehyde converts to gas vapours. Yes, formaldehyde gas—swirling in a hot cloud all around your head. It sounds outrageous, like it ought to be illegal, doesn't it?

Whether inhaled or absorbed through the skin, formaldehyde is linked to a host of health problems including irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and lungs, as well as dizziness.  Even short-term exposure can cause asthma-like symptoms, while long-term exposure can cause permanent central nervous system damage and on-going pulmonary problems.  According to Amy McMichael, MD, Professor of Dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre, “There is good data to support a link between formaldehyde and the development of leukaemia.”

Salon professional tend to recommend repeating the treatment every 8 to 12 weeks which increase the amount these women are exposed to formaldehyde.

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A Threat by any other name

A spotlight was thrown on these health risks by the FDA a few years ago and to counteract this claim, salons began offering “no-formaldehyde” and “low-formaldehyde” treatments. Unfortunately these treatments are problematic too for the reasons listed below:

  • Certain products that claim to be formaldehyde-free were found, when tested by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to contain significant levels of formaldehyde.
  • Other formaldehyde-free hair-smoothing products contain ingredients that turn into formaldehyde when they break down during the heat application portion of the salon treatment! Ingredients that are synonyms for or that break down into formaldehyde include formalin, formic aldehyde, methanol, methylene glycol, methylene oxide, oxomethane and oxymethylene.
  • The truly formaldehyde-free products don’t do much to smooth out the hair shafts, leaving many consumers dissatisfied.
  • The low-formaldehyde products, while not as toxic as the original formulations, still carry health risks.

The ever-present TOXIN

In all honesty, it’s not easy to avoid formaldehyde today. It’s used in a vast array of products, from plywood to carpeting to household cleaners. Clothing and most other textiles (towels, sheets, and curtains) often are treated with formaldehyde to keep them looking fresh during shipping and warehousing. Formaldehyde also is used as an ingredient in many cosmetics, including soaps, lotions, even mascara and eye liner.

OSHA requires that employers take protective precautions for workers who are exposed to formaldehyde at concentrations of 0.1% or higher. Scary comparison: According to the FDA, the original Brazilian Blowout products contained nearly 12% formaldehyde.

But just because your salon uses a product called something other than Brazilian Blowout doesn’t make it safe. Other products that expose you to formaldehyde during treatment include Acai Professional Smoothing Solution, Acai Therapy, Advanced Brazilian Keratin Treatment, Brasil Cacau, Cadiveu, Chocolate Extreme De-Frizzing Treatment, Copomon/Coppola, Express Blow Out, Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy, Marcia Teixeira Advanced Brazilian Keratin Treatment, Marcia Teixeira Extreme De-Frizzing Treatment, Natural Keratin Smoothing Treatment, Professional Brazilian Blowout Solution, Soft Chocolate Gentle Smoothing Treatment and Soft Gentle Smoothing Treatment.

 Bottom line: At this point, there is no effective salon-performed, keratin-based hair-smoothing product that can be considered completely safe, according to Dr. McMichael. If you have been receiving keratin treatments, it’s time to give serious consideration to stopping. Even if you have not noticed any negative effects as yet, it doesn’t mean that you’re immune—cumulative exposure only increases your risk.

To be safe, avoid keratin treatments. An alternative is Wella Professional Silk-Treat Straight service if you seek smooth silky results. With Silk proteins, this services gives you beautiful naturally straight hair like Silk.

Also check out these effective home remedies for hair fall prevention here at Reward Me.

More hair care tips & trend setting hair styling ideas here.

Read more beauty tips here.

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