This article was originally posted by Tiffany Anderson, our resident Curl Whisperer, on Live Curly, Live Free. Lately, she’s been fielding tons of questions about this straightening technique, and thought it’d be important for me to share this info with you gorgeous gals.
The latest round of questions I’ve been getting is about a treatment called “Liquid Keratin.” Many curly girls are asking me if it is as safe and effective a way of straightening at home as the company claims it is.
Frankly, based on what I’ve heard from others and my own training as a cosmetologist, I think Liquid Keratin is a whole lot of bad news and not a whole lot of anything else. I have absolutely no qualms about sitting here and telling you I believe there is a bunch of misleading information in their marketing and they are not being honest with consumers about this product.
First of all, what is Liquid Keratin?
The company says it is a “…revolutionary patented treatment that infuses curly, frizzy, unmanageable hair with keratin protein that it’s naturally missing in just 30 minutes…unlike salon treatments, Liquid Keratin DOES NOT contain Formaldehyde or harmful chemical ingredients..[it] is a spray in treatment with amazing results of straighter, smoother, stronger and longer hair instantly!”
From the above, which can be found on the company’s web site, I think we can agree consumers are being led to believe this is a safe way to straighten their hair using only a protein infusion treatment. Unfortunately, their marketing is misleading for quite a few reasons, as I have outlined below:
1) Not everyone who has curly hair has keratin protein that is “naturally missing.” On the contrary, coarse-haired curlies manufacture an overabundance of protein “naturally” in their hair on their own. If you put more protein–especially with a treatment like this–on top of hair that is already protein-heavy, you will have a dry, straw-like mess on your hands.
2) Hair is permanently straightened or curled by breaking what are called the “disulfide bonds” in your hair–the bonds that are responsible for the shape of your hair strand. The marketing of this product leads consumers to believe the keratin protein infusion is what is responsible for straightening the hair; however, it is absolutely impossible for protein alone to break disulfide bonds to permanently straighten curly hair. That takes chemicals such as sodium hydroxide, ammonium thioglycolate…or, formaldehyde.
And here’s where it starts to get really interesting.
3) The company bills the product as formaldahyde-free. They literally scream it at you in caps: “DOES NOT contain Formaldehyde or harmful chemical ingredients.” However, if you look at the ingredients on their product label, you will see one near the top called “Biformyl.” And another name for biformyl is oxalaldehyde, which happens to belong to the group of organic compounds called aldehydes…a group to which formaldehyde also belongs.
4) There is protein in this treatment; however, the order of the ingredients on the product ingredient label tells me this is simply a formaldehyde-type straightener with a little protein keratin thrown in so they can legally call it a keratin treatment instead of what it really is…a procedure that is banned in many salons because of the risk of sickness from fume inhalation.
5) Quite a few women with lightened or bleached hair who have actually used this product reported it turned their color a horrible, brassy orange color, which they then needed to have redone. Something a pure protein treatment wouldn’t do.
So, there you have it. This safe little at-home treatment doesn’t seem so safe all of a sudden, does it? And I have to wonder: what do we think might possibly occur if an individual with asthma or other breathing-related health issues is exposed to an aldehyde without their knowledge?
My biggest issue is this: I have a BIG problem with sneaky, unethical marketing. I don’t like it when any product manufacturer tries to pull the wool over the customer’s eyes just so they can make a buck. And I invite any representative from the Liquid Keratin company to address the points above and tell us why they are not being misleading or dishonest in their advertising of this product.
You can contact the Liquid Keratin company at:
Liquid Keratin, Inc.
101 King High Avenue
CANADA M3H 3
0001 – (647) 588-5515
I have used the Keratin treatment and unfortunately did get a sore throat for 10 days, watery eyes and nasal drips for a week. My hair looked great and was easy to manage. The second time I used the Keratin treatment I prepared myself with a face mask and plenty of ventilation at the salon and did not get sick. The problem is my last treatment was 6 months ago and other than my new growth, my hair is straight. I cannot even wear it as soft curls. Now I have to decide if I do Keratin again or go through the hectic transition of natural.
I had the Korean permanent treatment for years, then i cut it all off, it was way too expensive and your hair stays straight so the curly new grown hair looked horrible (3c-ish). my hair grows very quick and is SO MUCH! i might try this, knowing that its temporary.But as a curl definer not a straighter.
When i was 13 my mom set me under the dryer with a chemical straighter for an hour and my hair didn't even fall off then, so…i'm not worried trying out stuff. Love Marion.
I have used this product before….I have 4a/b/c hair…and I can tell you that the product does revert back after 30-60 days….the smell of the product is more like an aphogee protein treatment..and I did not have any adverse reactions…I can honestly say that my hair was in better shape and more manageable after the treatment than before…
Well said Tee! While I agree with Tiffany's point about advertising a product falsely, I disagree witn her overall review, because it's obvious she has not had any keratin treatment and is writing from an obvious biased viewpoint.
She had made these claims about liquid keratin having a form of formaldehyde. Not aldehydes are dangerous. Cinnamon, cilantro, and kumquats (which is used in Chanel No. 5) are among some of the foods we eat that have contain aldehydes in them. These aldehydes give these foods their distinctive scents. Also, she lists no citatations to her claims. With these points in mind, Tiffany's write up looks like she has not really researched for this article, except to obtain the address to the company that makes the Liquid Keratin brand to write and complain. Just saying.
There sure are a lot of knee-jerk reactions here. Some from ladies who think using heat alone to straighten hair is o.k., when we know that regular use of heat fries the hair. Or that a chemical relaxer isn't as bad because a mask isn't needed to relax the hair in comparison to needing one for the Brazilian Blowout. Natural gas is naturally odorless, which is why a scent is added in, so if there's a gas leek, we'd know to get the heck out, otherwise we'd die, because we couldn't smell it. So why would a product that can burn a hole through a soda can but has no smell can be considered "safer" than keratin treatments? That doesn't make sense.
The makers of Liquid Keratin do not claim their product makes curly hair straight, they do say that used on natural AA hair will soften the curls and eliminate frizz, not straighten them. A Google search of reviews made by black naturals who have used this product confirms this. BTW, Liquid Keratin is temporary. The product washes out after 30 days.
Don't be so quick to judge what people use on their hair. Whether a sista chooses to use a relaxer, straighten her hair with heat or pay $500 for a Brazilian Treatment is her decision, if you don't agree, keep it to yourself. Worry about your own d*mn head and quit trying to be the Guardian of Black Hair.
BTW, yes, I have had a keratin treatment 3 years ago when I still used chemicals to straighten my hair. I liked how it made my newgrowth softer. Now that I'm transitioning to natural, I plan on trying Liquid Keratin to make my transition easier (I'm 5 months post-relaxer.) BTW, my name is Dedra if anyone wants to reply to my comment. Apologies for the long ass comment!
all of these products are lies! i have fine, curly hair that is frizzy without product. i thought i would have wash and wear hair with these product, but now have half curly, frizzy, orange, broken hair. i wish i had done nothing and learn to love my curls. ladies, DON't DO IT!!!!
Great information, but bottom line – Can you offer any advice on an alternative to this product. I would love to stop getting a relaxer, but my hair is so very thick and tightly coiled, it is just not practical for me to just stop relaxing and go natural, especially because I sweat alot from working out and from other daily activites. Is there an true transition product?
Hoda from the Today Show had her hair done with Rujevnol and posted a youtube on it. It looks beautiful. Copolla has a $30.00 bottle of Keratin Infusion Replenisher that supposedly gives similar results to the more expensive treatment. This treatment last 6 weeks. Some salons do this, as it is not the harsher treatment and is a conditioner or replenisher. That one can buy at beauty stores, the other one with the formaldyhyde you have to be licensed to get. I think these new treatments will only get better with time. Oprah's hairdresser has his Keratin shampoo and conditiner line out as of this month.
Supraveni Chemicals manufactures plenty of chemical products like sodium sulphate, sulphuric acid, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, barium sulphate & sodium hydroxide, for more details visit http://www.supravenichemicals.com/
i’d love this but as a student definately couldn’t afford it. take an hour with a hairdryer or a half hour with the hair straightners to get my hair looking any way decent!
i just got it done the other day and since then i have been feeling really really sick to my stomach, i've had a terrible head ache and i've been feeling dizzy. My sister says I'm just being a baby. what do you guys think?
I have not tried this product, yet, but like some I gave it a thought and that's how i can to this post. I am a little confused, i hear a lot of good reviews about it and a lot of bad reviews about, but than I see all these girls running on the street with great looking straight hair, how do they do it? Can someone tell me? Do they all, suddenly have great hair? I highlight my hair and I read that it will damage the highlights is that really true? Did someone actually really experience that?
THANK YOU FOR THIS POST I am allergic to sodium hydroxide/lye so I am unable to get relaxers and I was minutes away from purchasing the the liquid keratin from ulta for $ 69 because I researched blogs on it and I heard great feed back on this product but now that I have read your blog your have saved me a trip to the doctor because lye, sodium hydroxide and formaldehyde's are all extremely toxic to the human system if there was ever a plan to poison blacks people they would just have to put it in a relaxer it is hard to do press and curls but I will stick with it I do not use the hot comb I go to a Dominican salon and have them blow dry roller set and flat iron it last a week and its $30 a week but does any one have any solutions on what to do for the edges of my hair they are really coarse
Thank you so much for posting this…. It seems that educated sisters are being igorned about this latest craze.
We know that marketing techniques are designed to promise us the world……..
Japanese Straightening was the big thing 5 years ago…So in 5 years – I am sure we will see something else that makes a grand promise….
Never will I ever put this crap in my hair!
Just a note…My research on the BK treatment states that it is not permanent, nor does it pull your hair bone straight (that’s where the iron out comes in.) With a normal shampoo cycle the product will eventually wash away. The thing I don’t get is, some of us have chosen at one point or another to put relaxers in our hair, which burns and leaves scabs in our scalp and around your hair line. We’ve experienced breakage and dried out, lifeless hair from that alone. Yet the BK treatment (formaldehyde free) claims to give lifeless, damaged hair body and movement without frizz, has so quickly become something considered evil. Funny that some of the people who have actually had this done, give rave reviews over it. Personally my goals, are to remain chemically free. However, I would never past judement against someone making an educated decision about whats good or not good for their type of hair. If the BK treatment is a bad wrap, then let us not forget the pressing comb, cold waves, relaxers, permanent dyes, and lyes, texturizes, flat irons, curling irons, blow dryers, and anything else that breaks down the bonds of your hair are all in the same family! We must also realize that what some hair can tolerate others cannot. And what works for some will not work for others. I was a slave to a perm for years, knowing full well the damage it could do, but did that stop me. . .no, not until I was ready to stop. To each his own, when information is given about a popular product or treatment, it is ment simply to inform. And I don’t know one thing on the market that get’s a 100% approval rating. Somebody will always have a difference of opinion. That’s what makes us unique. My name is Tee if anyone would like to respond. Thank you.
Interesting. Thanks for posting. I almost considered getting the treatment done just to see how my hair would look. For some reason about an hour ago the idea didn’t sit well with me. One might as well get a relaxer instead of getting that treatment done I suppose. At least with a relaxer you don’t have to wear a mask to protect yourself from the fumes or worry about being irritated by strong fumes. I know the blog that people are referring to. She did say that she wanted to give it a try which she was free to do so. I don’t knock her for doing it.
great info as alway, nikki!
Want some honest truth about keratin hair straightener?
I’m an ex-pat living in Brazil. I also used to run a salon supply company.
The formaldehyde issue is a serious one, but I can tell you that Brazilian hair companies haven’t been allowed to use Formaldehyde for more than two years and thier Keratin straightening treatments really do work.
Look out for names like Zene Escova Progress and Escova Intelligente, they are safe, they don’t f**k up ya hair and they are incredibly easy to use at home.
Other than that, I love your blog girl, was it easy to set up? I want one!
I agree that the treatment seems pretty absurd. To risk my health by breathing in formaldehyde (or any other aldehydes, for that matter!) is just ridiculous to me.
I too, was very disappointed when the owner of another well-known natural hair care blog decided to undergo the BKT. Her hair was SO gorgeous with the curls, and without them, it’s just…meh. But I digress.
In any event, I would never do this treatment. Aside from the formaldehyde, with all of the heat that’s used to set the treatment, you’re almost GUARANTEED to suffer from heat damage. I doubt that anyone’s curls would return 100% after the treatment washes out.
The best we can all do is always respect the decisions others make 🙂 We can give our opinion…the good Lord knows, my clients are used to hearing me run my mouth about anything and everything, lol…but, at the end of the day, they are grown women and my role is to support them no matter what they choose to do 🙂
Maria – I am so glad to hear that. Putting this stuff on a grown woman is enough to give me heart palpitations, let alone thinking about someone’s baby.
Thank you for this post! We need to make informed decisions for ourselves and its always great to see the pros and cons of any new product in the market.
As far as other blogs, people shouldn’t be judgmental and start a natural nazi crusade against people with relaxed hair… then turn around and do a BKT treatment and tell others not to judge her. Just my 2 cents.
Tiffany, you rock! Hope you know you saved an 8 yr old kid from getting this (my niece).
Nikki, the information you provide is informative and priceless.
I learned on different internet site the procedure used in acquiring a Brazilian Keratin treatment, the words I use to depict this process is atrocious, chilling and despairing. Can you form a mental image of a heating tool at 430+ degrees passing through your curls 5 times?
Someone may opt to accomplish a certain look by whatever methods they choose, all the same, they should keep in mind the dangerous side effects.
In my opinion, the price alone should be grounds to visit a Psychologist for “treatment”
Thanks for the information!
On a side note, the owner of the natural blog to which Anon referenced, did not take issue with everyone who disagreed with her choice to use the keratin treatment. I thought she politely stressed that it was her choice to do what she wanted with her hair and report as much on her blog. As grown women, we are left to our own devices and have a responsibility to make informed decisions based upon the information that is available. Nothing more…nothing less.
Regarding the comment that aldehydes are not inherently bad–as far as this particular aldehyde goes:
Oxaldehyde (aka glyoxal):
“… forms a green vapour which has a pungent smell” [Organic Chemistry, Beyer/Walter/Lloyd, 1997).
“… the reactivity of glyoxal is comparable with that of formaldehyde (Directory of Microbicides for the Protection of Materials, Springer Netherlands Publishing, 2004).
“Glyoxal 40% has a moderate toxicity by the oral route, a low toxicity by the dermal route and a moderate toxicity by inhalation…causes slight to definite skin irritations depending on the exposure duration…mainly used as a chemical intermediate and also for a small part as an active ingredient in disinfectant products in preparation with other components (formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, quaternary ammonium).” (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Screening Information Data Set, UNEP Publication: www.chem.unep.ch/irptc/sids/OECDSIDS/107222.pdf )
Personally, this is not stuff I want in my hair. Nor would I ever put it into my clients’ hair.
I have a friend from Brazil and she was very close to convincing me to get this in my hair she said it would soften my curl pattern but not straighten my hair. She said it was differnt than what we do here in american to straighten our hair. I saw the process on you tube and it did look like it was permanant. Thanks for the info has made me feel good about my decision.
Thank you for this information Nikki!
The owner of another natural blog (whose name I shall not mention)got some expensive coppola keratin treatment and has been so defensive about it – calling anyone who disagrees with it (including myself because I actually told her I did) a “natural nazi”.
I’m not against straigtening hair with heat at all but how can anyone justify paying about $500 (repeatedly every year), risking heat and chemical damage just to temporarily straighten their hair?!! Am I the only one who thinks these treatments are so absurd?
very good information and analysis of this treatment
“My biggest issue is this: I have a BIG problem with sneaky, unethical marketing. I don’t like it when any product manufacturer tries to pull the wool over the customer’s eyes just so they can make a buck.”
I COULD NOT AGREE MORE. This is so frustrating to me because I can hear the heartbreak that often happens when women go searching for hope in a bottle. And IMHO black women in particular are susceptible because most of us have NO CLUE how our hair works and the black hair care industry likes it that way because it means they can make more money off folks’ ignorance.
There are a couple of YT videos showing women having the Brazilian keratin treatment done. I can’t decide which is more horrifying: the treatment itself or all the comments from women desperate to get it.
aldehydes are not inherently bad