Find the Best Salon Hair Straightening Treatment for You

Goodbye curls, frizz and waves, hello smooth, straight locks (7 Photos)

Ingrid Schmidt on Jan 11, 2011 at 4:20PM

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Keratin Treatments

Luxelab Salon, Santa Monica

a Ingrid Schmidt on Jan 11, 2011 at 4:22PM

Also known as: Brazilian Blowout, Keratin Complex and Global Keratin, three major companies that make the salon product.

Good for: Any type of hair, including bleached, highlighted and damaged.

Not good for: Hair that is curly, if your ultimate goal is straight; or hair frequently exposed to salt water. "Salt is the enemy of the keratin coating, so if you're a surfer or avid ocean swimmer, this may not be right for you," says David Abrams, co-owner of Luxelab salon in Los Angeles.

How it'll look: Wavy hair will appear naturally straight; straight hair will defrizz; and curly hair will have minimal frizz and a relaxed wave. "Keratin treatments don't actually straighten hair; they just relax about seventy percent of the curl," says Abrams. All hair will look smoother, shinier, straighter and healthier. The finish may vary slightly, according to the brand used.

How they do it: These treatments don't alter the basic chemical nature of the hair; rather, they apply a surface coating of keratin to the hair that gradually washes out over time. Aldehydes in some solutions, when heated to about 450 degrees with a blow dryer/flat iron process to seal the keratin into the hair, are said to emit trace amounts of formaldehyde gas (a carcinogen). Abrams and celebrity hairstylist Kim Kimble both noted a buzz about the development of new aldehyde and aldehyde derivative-free formulas that have not yet been released.

How long it takes: 2 to 3 hours for keratin treatments; 1 to 1.5 hours for Brazilian Blowout and Keratin Complex Express Blow Out. Also, you must wait three days after keratin treatments (or eight hours after the express service) before washing your hair. If you get a Brazilian Blowout, you can shampoo immediately after the treatment.

How long it lasts: 3 to 4 months for keratin treatments and 1.5 months for the express service.

What you'll pay: From $100 for Keratin Complex Express Blow Out; from $250 for regular keratin treatments. Costs can vary greatly, depending on salon and location.

• It's suitable for the widest spectrum of hair types and it is the only treatment that can be used safely on damaged and bleached/highlighted hair, since the process is said to actually strengthen and condition hair.

• Hair maintains some volume, so it looks natural and it can still be styled with a curling iron or blow-dryer..

• It gradually fades from the hair as you wash out the keratin, so your natural waves will come back, if you decide the look's not for you. There is no telltale line of demarcation as hair grows, so it’s not necessary to rush back to the salon for expensive touch-ups -- a great solution for women who want to ease away from Japanese straightening or relaxers. The new express treatment "is a baby step version that lets you try it with even less commitment," says Sonya Dove, a creative director for Wella at Doves Studio in Santa Monica.

• The potential toxicity of formaldehyde gas. As a precaution, Luxelab installed an industrial ventilation system that cleans ninety-nine percent of air-borne particles. Some salons offer masks for clients and stylists. Many are waiting for the outcome of the FDA's investigation and for companies to develop new alternative products.

• It gradually fades from the hair as you wash out the keratin, so your natural waves will come back. Try other options like Japanese straightening and hair relaxers if you want a longer-lasting, permanent effect.

• Hair will not look poker straight, if that's your goal.

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