Beauty Booty: The Brazilian Keratin Treatment

by Rachel on June 13, 2011

If you know the history of my hair, it should come as no surprise that this is one area of grooming where I’m always looking for the next best thing. But I actually didn’t give the Brazilian Keratin treatment much thought for a long time because I didn’t think it was something black/half-black people could try. But then I discovered it was, in fact, a possibility for my hair, and when I blogged about finding a new stylist, a lot of people raved about it. Still, it was pricey, and just not a priority.

I kept an eye out for a Groupon for the treatment, but didn’t have any luck. But when I needed a relaxer in April, I started to seriously consider doing the Brazilian Keratin treatment instead. Like most women who have only known difficult hair their whole lives, it’s hard to resist the promise that something will finally make life easier. The price was the biggest thing holding me back, but my stylist wasn’t working out of a salon anymore, and said it would cost $200. Considering my relaxer costs $100 every 6 to 8 weeks and this treatment was supposed to last longer and be so much better for my hair, I decided to go for it.

My hair was super overdue for a relaxer so I was dying for the appointment all week. And while I was excited to get it done so I could feel my scalp again, I spent most of the three hours in the chair in a state of major stress.

I’ve been spending hours in the salon since I was eight years old, so I consider myself pretty patient, but it took forever. After washing my hair, applying the Keratin Complex Smoothing Treatment, and sticking me under the hot dryer for 20 minutes, my stylist flat-ironed each and every piece of hair on my head. It was so so so so tedious. But my hair looked really, really smooth and flat when all was said and done. It didn’t look any different than it does when I get a normal relaxer, though, so I figured the proof would come after the first washing. Everyone swore that a life of fear over getting thrown into a pool at a party due to the way my hair looks if I don’t use some sort of heat styling tool on it would come to an end with this treatment. They said their hair was pin-straight after it dried and didn’t need any heat from a flat iron. They said it was life-changing, cutting blow dry and styling time, and making up for years spent planning your life around your hair.

I was dying to wash it to see if it was as wonderful as everyone had said it was. I followed the instructions to not get my hair wet for three days. I wore a shower cap and avoided working out and sex so it wouldn’t get sweaty. My stylist recommended a Paul Mitchell shampoo but I couldn’t find it so I bought a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner for the first washing, per what I read online. And after that first washing it was…thick.

And dry.

The roots weren’t straight or flat. They weren’t curly, but they were still pretty thick and wavy.

My hair was better than it had been before the appointment, but not by much. Following a relaxer, my hair is silky smooth and straight for a few weeks, and then it gets progressively more rats’-nest-esque. At this point, my hair felt like it does a couple weeks before a relaxer, when I know a full-blown rats’ nest is imminent. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t the result I expected from a supposedly life-changing treatment.

I texted my stylist and said it felt thick and dry and she said to try the Paul Mitchell shampoo she had originally recommended. It wasn’t sulfate-free but she said that a lot of people at the salon had complained that the sulfate-free shampoo was drying and to try this instead. So I tracked some down and…same. My hair just didn’t feel right. I couldn’t even run my fingers through it.

I ended up stopping by to see my stylist about a week later and she agreed that it felt way thick and told me to come back in for a touch-up. Unfortunately, she lives on the other side of town, she was pretty booked, and I had a lot going on, so I couldn’t get in to see her for two more weeks. And those two weeks were incredibly frustrating. With each passing day, my roots were growing in thick and curly. Every morning when I woke up, it was standing nearly straight up because my roots were like mini Bump-Its. Every day I tried to tame my hair and every day I felt like I failed. I could barely coax it into a ponytail. It was dry and difficult and I was just so over it.

By the time I finally got back in for my touch-up, a month had passed since the original treatment and I didn’t have much hope. My hair was now doubly worse than it had been when I first went in and I just didn’t think a keratin touch-up was going to cut it at this point. So I told her I just wanted a relaxer.

Within a couple hours, my hair was smooth and flat. I could feel my scalp again! I didn’t get a sex bump at the crown after lying on the couch for two minutes! I felt ridiculous for being so happy, but how your hair looks can really affect how you feel about yourself, you know?

Everyone I’ve talked to has raved about this treatment, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this treatment is life-changing…for white girls who have never had a relaxer. For me, it didn’t even come close to getting my hair straight like a relaxer does. It made it a little more smooth, but not so much that it would cut styling time. (I’m guessing a good drugstore treatment would do about the same.) And the fact that it was so thick and dry after actually added styling time to my routine.

Like I said, I know a lot of people have had great experiences with it, but my hair is like a wayward teen. It’s not going to get in line without at least a trip to Maury, and for me, a relaxer is like boot camp for my hair. Despite the harsher chemicals in it, my hair is manageable and pretty healthy and I’ll be sticking with the old school treatment for now.