Let’s start with a little introduction to keratin and why it’s important. “Keratin is the protein in your hair that keeps it strong,” Ali tells me. “When you have a keratin treatment, you are building the strength back into the hair by coating the hair shaft with keratin. A by-product of this process is that it can smooth and straighten your hair.”
As for the nitty-gritty of the actual process, at my appointment Ali starts by washing my hair and drying it to around 80% dry, before coating it with keratin. She lets it process for 15 minutes, blow dries my hair, and then irons it with a straightener to set the keratin. Then she washes and dries my hair, and the process is complete.
Ali explains: “The main result is strong, healthy, and shiny hair. It will relax frizz and curl in your hair. We describe the results as weather proofing your hair against the elements. You may still have to blow dry and straighten your hair in the morning, but it will last, and it won’t frizz and curl in between washes.”
This perfectly describes my experience with the treatment. For everyday wear, I usually let my hair air dry and that’s about it; it still looks like my hair, just more groomed and with less frizz.
It’s important to note that this treatment isn’t necessarily a straightener and won’t deliver the permanently pin straight strands you’d get with traditional straightening formulations. That comes with its advantages, though: because of the more natural finish, it means you’re not committed to the treatment for life. If you choose not to get a top up, you won’t be left with an awkwardly dramatic switch in hair texture midway down your strands.
And you can opt to get the treatment just on particular areas – a particularly curly or frizzy fringe, for example – which is impossible to achieve with traditional straightening treatments. There are also different strengths of keratin available depending on what you’re aiming for; if you have curly hair, for example, the treatment can be formulated so that your beautiful curls are maintained, and that just the frizz is tamed.
Ali says to expect results to last for three to five months: “Keratin does build up so the more often you have the treatment, the longer it will last,” she adds.
The treatment is definitely an investment price-wise, so you’d be wise to take the upmost care to ensure your results last the longest they possibly can. Ali’s top tip? Space out your hair washes. “You can optimise your results through reducing washing frequency,” she advises. “The less you wash your hair, the longer the keratin will last. Keratin will make your hair easier to manage, but the more you wash, swim, heat style, and iron your hair may affect the way the keratin treatment fades. It’s really an individual thing.”
That said, there is zero downtime: unlike other straightening treatments, you don’t have to skip washing your hair for a number of days – nor do you have to avoid pushing your strands back with your sunglasses, which is often verboten to prevent leaving permanent kinks. Ali even joked I could go straight from my appointment for a dip in the ocean if I wanted to (my hair looked amazing, so I unsurprisingly opted not to), but it’s a relief to know you won’t wreck your hair if you get caught in an unexpected rain shower on your way home.
The products you use matter greatly, too: it’s vital to avoid formulations with sulfates, which can strip the keratin from your hair. Ali recommends the Goldwell Kerasilk Control Shampoo and Conditioner, and suggests adding in the Goldwell Kerasilk Control Intensive Smoothing Mask once a week as well.
The answer, happily, is pretty much yes. “The treatment can be performed on almost everyone,” explains Ali. “Almost everyone would benefit from a keratin service as it brings out the best in your hair.” Interestingly, Ali mentions that it’s also a popular option for cancer patients, as hair can grow back differently textured after chemotherapy.
“If your hair is damaged from over colouring, heat styling, or ironing, you will need to address the damage in your hair before having a keratin service,” clarifies Ali. “But other than that, everyone should have this treatment: it’s a game changer!”
My hair just feels and looks better – shinier, softer, less frizzy – with zero heat. The difference compared to before is considerable, but not unrecognisably drastic, which I believe is a drawcard if you’re not mentally prepared – or quite simply desirous – of a major makeover. My hair still looks like itself; it’s a case of my hair but better, if you will.
The Goldwell Kerasilk Control Keratin Treatment is what I’d class as a ‘high maintenance to look low maintenance’ treatment (like brow tints or eyelash lifts) that are an upfront investment in both time and money, but shave valuable time off how long it takes you to get ready every morning. And if I’m honest, I’m not sure I’ll be content with my hair without this treatment ever again.
Story by Tess de Vivie de Régie. Holding shot of Monica Bellucci, 1993.