A breakdown of straightening natural hair with the Brazilian keratin treatment aka Brazilian blowout, the pros and cons plus what to do if you don’t want to try the BKT.
One of the best things about natural hair is versatility; being able to wear so many styles and looks.
Straight natural hair is just one of those looks but this can also be damaging to hair and prevent natural hair from reverting back afterward.
This series will examine all the available options for straightening natural hair, the pros and cons, and the best options for straight natural hair.
Keratin is a fibrous protein that’s an essential component of hair, skin, and nails. It is created via a combination of amino acids.
It forms a protective barrier around the hair shaft helping it to remain strong and elastic.
However, keratin can be lost due to over-processing, over-styling, and other damaging hair practices.
Related Content: Straightening Natural Hair – Japanese Straightening Treatment
Brazilian Keratin Treatment Pros and Cons
What is the Brazilian Keratin Treatment (BKT)?
The aim of a Brazilian keratin treatment is to restore the keratin lost from hair through bad hair care practices.
They are also supposed to eliminate frizz and soften hair. Hair is infused with the treatment, dried, and then flat ironed.
The straight results are semi-permanent and expected to last for three to six months before hair reverts back to its natural state.
Keratin treatments can cost anything from $250 — $500 depending on location and hairstylist.
The crazy cost aside, when this treatment first came on the horizon several years ago, I considered trying it out.
I was terrible at styling my hair and just wanted an easier way to deal with it back then.
However, I looked it up and discovered it contains ingredients that release formaldehyde.
That knowledge was more than enough to turn me off it but that’s not the only problem with this treatment.
Pros of Brazilian Keratin Treatment (BKT)
- Straight Hair – Since the objective of the treatment is straight hair for a few months, this can be achieved with the Brazilian keratin treatment. Straight and smoother hair promotes manageability and makes it easier to style hair,
- Reduces Frizz – the Brazilian keratin treatment significantly reduces frizz, especially for naturally curly and wavy hair.
- Reduces Styling Time – it’s no secret you can style straight hair faster than you can curlier hair because you don’t have to engage as much patience. The Brazilian keratin treatment reduces styling time on natural hair.
- Relaxed Curl Pattern – Brazilian keratin treatment gives curly hair a relaxed texture for a time. If you were considering a permanent relaxer, this treatment is a temporary way to test if you’ll like it.
- Minimal Damage – with straighter hair on the Brazilian keratin treatment, you won’t have to manipulate your hair or use heat appliances quite as much which minimizes the risk of damage.
Cons of Brazilian Keratin Treatment (BKT)
Despite the several benefits of the Brazilian keratin treatment, there are just as many disadvantages.
You need to consider these cons before making a decision to go ahead with the Brazilian keratin treatment.
- Health Concerns – Brazilian keratin treatments contain formaldehyde, which is classified as a carcinogen – a substance that can cause cancer.
- More Health Concerns – formaldehyde causes sore throats, itchy eyes, and nose bleeds, which is why the hairstylist wears a nose mask while applying it.
- Not Formally Banned – since formaldehyde isn’t banned everywhere yet, there are still Brazilian keratin treatments containing this harmful chemical available and there’s no way to be sure of the exact amount contained in the product. I have made suggestions for the best alternatives below.
- Risk of Damage – there has been feedback from several ladies that hair didn’t revert back properly afterward and ended up damaged although this is a risk of any hair straightening method.
- Expensive – Brazilian keratin treatments can be quite expensive. Post-treatment care to keep the hair straight can also add to the overall expense.
- Temporary Results – the results from Brazilian keratin treatments last only 3 – 6 months. Afterward, your hair will revert back to its natural state or you’ll have to undergo the treatment again.
- Maintenance – while you’re wearing a Brazilian blowout, you’ll have to use special shampoos and conditioners to extend the longevity of the treatment.
- Not for Damaged Hair – the Brazilian keratin treatment should be done on excessively dry or damaged hair. If your hair already has a relaxer, you shouldn’t undergo the treatment as well.
- Doesn’t Mask New Growth – Brazilian keratin treatments don’t mask new growth so there will be a vivid difference between the treated hair and your new hair growth.
- Not recommended for pregnant women.
Overall, the cons far outweigh the pros for the Brazilian keratin treatment and I wouldn’t recommend it as a primary hair straightening method.
The controversy has led to the creation of keratin straightening systems that are free of formaldehyde.
However, they cannot achieve the same results and will not last as long since they don’t contain ingredients that can break down the hair structure.
Since what you’re looking for is temporarily straight hair though, there’s no harm in trying these alternatives out.
A few formaldehyde-free smoothing systems with good reviews include:
5 Formaldehyde-Free Alternatives to Brazilian Keratin Treatment
Keratin smoothing treatments are the formaldehyde-free recommended alternative to a Brazilian keratin treatment.
However, it should be noted the results are not the same as a BKT and will not last as long.
Cezanne Classic Keratin Smoothing Solution is a formaldehyde-free smoothing system that delivers results that last as long as 5 months.
The manufacturer claims the treatment, “Reduces your drying and styling time by client-reported 33-50%.” Learn more here.
The INOAR Professional G-Hair Keratin Smoothing System delivers a superior smoothing experience for even the frizziest and curliest of hair.
The smoothing system includes a deep cleansing shampoo, an anti-volume treatment, and a finalizing hair mask. Learn more here.
KCB Professional Smooth System is a 2 step hair smoothing system that provides results for up to 3 months.
Unlike a lot of smoothing systems, this can be applied at home but pay attention to the instructions. Learn more here.
Keragen Brazilian Keratin Smoothing Treatment is formulated to enrich and transform dry and damaged hair.
The entire line included pre and post-treatment options so you’re ensured healthy treatments every step of the way. Learn more here.
Belli Capelli Venice Keratin Hair Treatment is a 1-step application that can be done at home.
Formulated with organic B-tox to achieve the same results as the BKT. Learn more here.
Final Note on Brazilian Keratin Treatment
As a temporary hair straightening system, the Brazilian Keratin Treatment works.
However, the pros and cons need to be carefully weighed and considered to make an informed decision on going ahead with it.
Furthermore, the Brazilian Keratin Treatment isn’t suitable for all hair types.
If you have fine, straight hair, or relaxed hair, applying BKT can cause breakage and lead to severe hair loss.
It’s more suitable for type 3 – 4 hair. And keep in mind, Brazilian keratin treatments and most smoothing treatments should be applied by a professional.
Have you ever tried BKT treatments? What has been your experience with them?
Abi is a curly hair expert, researcher, product tester, and author of the highly-rated Healthy Hair Care Series. She is also the founder of Ade Ori Hair Care, Healthy Natural Hair Products, and Natural Oils for Hair & Beauty. HNHP has strict editorial standards and ensures all the information on Healthy Natural Hair Products is the best for natural hair care. Learn more about our Editorial Policies
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