What is a Brazilian Keratin Treatment? Often abbreviated as BKT, it is a thermal straightening system that promises to result in frizz and curl-free voluminous hair. It utilizes keratin (a protein) to temporarily straighten the hair. Depending on the amount of kink or curl your hair has, it will not necessarily give you 100% pin-straight hair. It does however relax the curl pattern of your hair and the amount of which depends on the formula you use.
There have been some health concerns regarding formulas that contain formaldehyde (which is not outlawed by the FDA, but still considered to be a dangerous chemical), so there have been some formaldehyde free formulas developed. However, from my research these “safer” formulations do not seem to be as effective in straightening the hair. A BKT is sometimes confused with a Brazilian blowout but it should be noted that these are two different processes, although both are aimed at getting straight hair.
How long do BKT’s last? The results of a BKT generally last up to 12 weeks.
What exactly is the process? The hair is first clarified to remove all product. The keratin treatment is then applied, the hair is blow dried then flat ironed (at pretty high temperatures) to “seal” the treatment. You may not wash (or get the hair wet), sweat, wear a ponytail, or dent the hair in any manner for about 72 hours. After that you may proceed to style normally, although some opt for low manipulation such as limited combing.
Where can I have a BKT done? There are “at-home” Brazilian keratin treatment kits that can save you money – however I am a FIRM believer in leaving chemical processes to the professionals. Even licensed hair stylists must undergo special training in order to provide this service, so I would not advise you to do it at home. Once you find a salon that offers the treatment, ask where the stylist trained for the process and how many of their clients have had it done. Since it is relatively new, it is best to go to an experienced professional.
How much does it cost? The cost has come down since the BKT first became popular in the US, and it now ranges from $150-$700. You can also catch a Groupon or LivingSocial deal to save money as well. I would be leary of salons charging less than $250, just be sure to ask about their training and experience.
These are just the facts as I know them. I opted not to include too many opinions on the process, because there are a lot of pros and cons from both satisfied keratin treaters and those who have had bad experiences. The general consensus among satisfied customers is that the BKT results in hair that is considerably straighter than their natural curl pattern, cuts down on styling time, tangles, and frizz, and because it gradually washes away there is no fragile line of demarcation as new, untreated hair grows.
In addition the natural curl pattern is said to return completely so it is not a permanent straightener. As for those who have had bad experiences and have negative views on the process, it is likely because of not doing enough research, BKT is a protein treatment and as such if proper moisture protein balance is not maintained after the treatment, then breakage is likely. I will however say this: be careful about obtaining your research from salon or BKT manufacturer websites – they will of course make the treatment seem like the most wonderful, safe and amazing process ever invented! For some this may be true – however to get unbiased and honest opinions search for bloggers who have actually had the process to see a wide variety of opinions.