Best Keratin Treatments

Updated December 2021
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Buying guide for best keratin treatments

There are few things more frustrating than waking up to a bad hair day. Whether it’s out-of-control frizz, limp hair, fried split ends, or other noticeable breakage, it’s just no fun to leave the house when your hair looks less than stellar. If your hair is rough and damaged enough that you’re suffering more bad hair days than good, a keratin treatment could be just the thing you need to get your locks in shape. Keratin can help smooth, strengthen, and straighten your hair so it’s softer, shinier, thicker, and more manageable.

But there are a lot of keratin treatments on the market, and they’re not all the same.  If you’re shopping for a keratin treatment, you may be wondering which type is right for your hair.

If you’re ready to buy a keratin treatment, check out the product list above for our top recommendations. For general information about keratin treatments, continue reading this shopping guide.

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Keratin strengthens the protein bonds inside the hair follicle, making your strands more resistant to breakage and damage.

What is keratin?

Keratin is a protein that occurs naturally in the hair, skin, and nails.

Hair is comprised mostly of keratin, actually. It’s found in the outer layers of the hair where it serves as a protectant against external damage, and it’s found within the hair follicle where it provides structural strength.

When your hair is damaged, it loses keratin, which makes it more porous and vulnerable to additional damage.

Restoring keratin to your locks can smooth its surface, strengthen it, and make it more elastic, so your hair looks and feels healthier.

Benefits of keratin treatments

  • If your hair is dry, brittle, or otherwise damaged, keratin treatments can help repair its structure by restoring moisture to your locks.

  • Keratin treats your hair from the inside out. It strengthens the protein bonds inside the follicle to make it more resistant to breakage and damage.

  • Because keratin treatments repair and strengthen hair, your locks appear softer and shinier.

  • Keratin helps smooth the outside of your hair, minimizing frizz and flyaways.

  • Depending on the type of treatment you use, keratin can also help straighten curly or wavy hair.

  • Heat styling can do serious damage to your hair, but applying a keratin treatment before blow-drying or flat-ironing can coat your hair and protect it against damage.

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Did you know?
Keratin is found in the outer layers of the hair where it serves as a protectant against external damage. It’s also found within the hair follicle, where it provides strength.

Who needs keratin treatments?

Keratin treatments work especially well on damaged hair. If you color your hair, use bleach, or do a lot of heat styling, you’d likely benefit from a keratin treatment.

Keratin treatments also work well on curly, wavy, and coarse hair that tends to get frizzy and unruly.

However, if you have straight, fine hair, you should be careful about using extremely potent keratin treatments.

Types of keratin treatments

Professional keratin treatment

Salon-quality keratin treatments are extremely potent and are typically used to straighten and smooth the hair. The results usually last four to six months, so you shouldn’t do it more than a few times a year.

You can purchase some professional-grade treatments for use at home, but these treatments may contain dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde. It’s important to check the ingredients list before buying a professional-grade keratin treatment.

Keratin oil treatment

A keratin oil treatment is similar to a leave-in treatment, so it can be applied daily. It helps strengthen and smooth the hair as well as add shine. Because it’s oil-based, it’s extremely moisturizing. Therefore, keratin oil treatments are best left for dry and coarse hair only.

Leave-in keratin treatment

Leave-in keratin treatments are gentler than the professional treatments mentioned above. These treatments are used to smooth, strengthen, and moisturize the hair. In most cases, you can use leave-in keratin treatment products daily. The best time to apply leave-in keratin treatment is when the hair is wet and freshly shampooed.

Deep conditioner keratin treatment

A keratin deep conditioner or hair mask is similar to leave-in treatment in that it’s fairly gentle and meant to restore moisture to strengthen and smooth the hair. However, because it’s so moisturizing, it’s typically used just one or two times per week in place of your regular conditioner.

"Keratin treatments work well on curly, wavy, and coarse hair that tends to get frizzy and unruly."

Other ingredients

While keratin is the key component in keratin treatments, many products use other ingredients to boost their moisturizing, smoothing, and strengthening properties.

  • Look for keratin treatments with natural oils, such as argan, olive, macadamia nut, or coconut oil. These oils help hydrate the hair, provide shine, and strengthen the locks.

  • Heavier moisturizing agents such as mango, shea, and coconut butters can also be found in some keratin treatments. These ingredients create a protective barrier over the hair to limit future damage.

  • Humectants and emollients like vegetable glycerin and honey are sometimes used to attract and bind moisture to hair for even more hydration.

  • Natural ingredients like aloe vera may also be used to help promote healthy hair growth.

When it comes to professional keratin treatments, look for products that are formaldehyde-free or only contain a small amount of formaldehyde to avoid possible health risks.

Are keratin treatments easy to use?

Most keratin treatments are fairly easy to use.

  • Leave-in and oil treatments can usually be applied to wet or dry hair and simply massaged into the strands until the treatment is evenly distributed and fully absorbed.

  • Deep-conditioning keratin treatments should be applied to wet hair and massaged throughout for even distribution. They usually need to sit on the hair for five to 15 minutes, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Professional keratin treatments are the most difficult to apply. They usually require two to three hours, and applying the product to yourself can be a challenge. It’s recommended that you blow-dry or flat-iron your hair after the treatment has dried, which takes additional time.

How soon will you see results from a keratin treatment?

Professional keratin treatments show instant results, but it may take up to a month of habitual application to see results from leave-in, deep-conditioning, and oil keratin treatments.

Leave-in and oil treatments should be applied daily, while deep-conditioning treatments can be used weekly.

With a professional keratin treatment, the results usually last four to six months, so you only need to apply it about twice a year. You could feasibly prolong the results by using other keratin treatments in the interim.

Keratin treatment prices

Keratin treatments vary in price based on the type of treatment and ingredients used. You can expect to pay anywhere from $8 to $100 for a good keratin treatment.

  • For a professional-grade keratin treatment, you’ll usually pay between $30 and $100.

  • For a leave-in keratin treatment, you’ll usually pay between $8 and $25.

  • For a keratin deep conditioner, you’ll usually pay between $10 and $30.

  • For a keratin oil treatment, you’ll usually pay between $10 and $45.

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When your hair loses keratin, it becomes more porous, making it more prone to damage.

Keratin treatment tips

  • Want to make your good results last longer? Using a keratin-fortified shampoo and conditioner can help prolong the results of a keratin treatment.

  • To get the best results, focus keratin treatments on the tips and ends of your hair, where the most damage is likely to be.

  • The proper amount of keratin treatment product for your hair depends on how long your locks are. Short hair usually only needs one to two drops, while longer hair may need three to four drops.

  • You can apply most keratin treatments daily or weekly. The results from professional or salon-grade treatments usually last four to six months, so you should only use those a couple of times a year.

  • At-home keratin treatments have a lower potency on their own, but you can also use them to lengthen the results of a professional salon treatment.

  • If you’re using a professional keratin treatment with formaldehyde, wear protective eyewear and a respiratory mask to protect yourself.

  • If you’re using a keratin deep conditioner or mask, it helps to put on a shower cap or cover your head with plastic wrap. Doing so can generate heat that will help the keratin penetrate your hair more effectively.

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Regular use of keratin treatment products can help your hair look smoother, thicker, and more youthful.


Q. Are keratin treatments dangerous?

A. Some professional-grade keratin treatments contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Exposure to it can cause watery, burning eyes, an itchy throat, and even nosebleeds. If you have asthma, bronchitis, or another respiratory issue, it’s best to avoid salon-quality keratin treatments.

Q. How often can you use a keratin treatment?

A. It depends on the type of keratin treatment in question. Leave-in and oil treatments can usually be used daily, while deep-conditioning treatments are typically advised for weekly use. Professional or salon-quality treatments are so potent that they should typically only be used every four to six months. Always consult the manufacturer’s instructions to determine proper usage.

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