Side Effects Of Keratin Treatment For Hair

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Side Effects Of Keratin Treatment For Hair

While people have been gung-ho about keratin treatments for unmanageable hair conditions, the buzz amongst the savvy is to proceed with caution because of its side effects due to chemical ingredients.

Side effects of keratin treatment for hair

Image Source: Dinodia

Years back, while visiting your beauty salon you must have heard a lot of chatter about a new hair treatment–keratin or a Brazilian blowout. While it all sounded very exotic, you might have ditched the idea of doing it, thinking it was just some fad. To bring home the reality of the growing buzz around keratin, the hair products section in your supermarket started mushrooming with keratin serums, shampoos, and conditioners. 

Maybe now, your curiosity is overcoming your caution, and you are actually contemplating giving it a go. Well, this is a good time to learn what the keratin treatment is all about, its benefits–and yes its side effects too.

Formaldehyde, an ingredient found in most traditional salon formulas in the keratin hair solution has been a cause for concern. You should note the chemicals involved in the solution and the formaldehyde concentrations in the product being used to minimise any side effects. Though several formaldehyde-free keratin treatments have come up in recent times the jury is still out on them. 

Be alert to alternative names being used by manufacturers for formaldehyde, such as bonded aldehyde, formalin, formic aldehyde, methylene glycol, methylene oxide, morbicid acid etc. or, there could be some preservatives in the product which can give off formaldehyde. Amongst the formaldehyde-free keratin treatments out there, the one with glyoxylic acid is a suitable alternative, but it’s not as effective.

What is the Keratin Treatment?

Your hair, nails and skin comprise a natural structural protein, keratin, which protects them from damage. The elements, the vagaries of the weather, pollution or lifestyle choices can take a toll on your hair, leaving it dull and damaged. A keratin treatment is a great conditioning procedure which involves adding keratin artificially to give strength, shine and body to the hair. The big allure is that not only does it make your hair look good, it also makes it easier to manage. Keratin treatments have a great pull for those with coarse, curly or frizzy, coloured or bleached hair. Stylists also recommend a keratin treatment for straightening or reducing curly or frizzy hair. Try to avoid this procedure if your hair is thin and straight or the texture too fine. 

The Keratin treatment involves using this natural protein, sourced from the feathers, horns, and wool of animals, to which other ingredients are added including formaldehyde or a derivative of the chemical. Your hair is washed and then blow dried to rid it of any moisture residue. The stylist then works the keratin solution into the hair and allows it to sit for about half an hour. After blow drying the solution, it is sealed with a flat iron. What makes the keratin treatment work is not so much the keratin but the artificial add-on, the formaldehyde or its derivative. The results can last for about three to six months. It also depends on the quality of your hair.


  • The treatment is a boon for those with frizzy or curly hair as it can reduce the frizz and curls to give a softer, straighter look 

  • It adds gloss and body to dull hair 

  • It gives new life to damaged hair resulting from the culprits like the elements, hair dye etc which strip away the natural protective layer of keratin from the hair strands. 

  • It strengthens hair by reloading the keratin that your hair shaft has lost

  • It’s great if you don’t want frequent repeats of blow-drying or straightening hair

The Downside

While a keratin treatment can be very exciting, especially if you have various issues about the quality of your hair, one should remember there are some concerns about its potential side effects.

At the outset, what is most concerning is the use of formaldehyde, a chemical which is a known carcinogen and can cause cancer or cause it to speed up. While a one time use of the treatment may not leave its mark, repeat treatments have the potential of this risky side effect. As identified by the Food and Drug Administration Trusted Source (FDA) some of the side effects from formaldehyde and related compounds in keratin treatments can be headache, dizziness, eye irritation, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, a rash, and in a more aggravated situation–chest pains. Obviously, if this occurs, either during or shortly afterwards, one should discontinue the treatment. The long-term aspects of the side effects of the keratin treatment are still unclear; but caution certainly needs to be maintained, as both consumers and stylists have reported these side effects.

It’s best to get your treatment done at a salon under a stylist familiar with the use of the product. Do your homework properly about what the ingredients are in the brand being used, the treatment you want, and ensure the product used matches with your hair type for the best result. 

Disclaimer: The above content is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a qualified physician or doctor. The Company does not vouch for or endorse any of the above content, and disclaims any and all warranties, express or implied, relating to the same.