The phrase “game changer” gets thrown around a bit too much these days, but we’d say it applies to Keratin hair-smoothing treatments. They’re right up there with formal flats and yoga-pants-as-acceptable-dinner-attire as far as we’re concerned. Hey, it’s a beautiful thing when confidence can be purchased with a few hundred bucks (OK, $200 to $600; it varies by salon) and an afternoon spent sitting. And it gets better: Many of the newer silkifying formulas are far less toxic than their formaldehyde-fueled foremothers (Brazilian blowout? Buh-bye). And yet, as you begin to research which one to get, you’ll be faced with so many options, it’ll make your head spin. Here, the pros and cons of the mane contenders (sorry) to help you have a dramatically smoother summer.
From Kerasilk to Cezanne, Here’s What to Know About Every Single Hair Smoothing Treatment
Pros: A formula with silk as a primary ingredient? Color us intrigued. This treatment is totally customizable and buildable (by your stylist) so it works well on all hair types, including thick, coarse curls. And, rather than flatten locks into pin-straight strands à la Japanese thermal reconditioning, it lets you retain your natural waves and bounce. So you still get bend—just way less pouf. The treatment is brushed onto sections of hair, left on for 15 minutes, then blow-dried, flatironed, rinsed out and styled. Bonus? Unlike with other Keratin treatments, hair can be washed the instant you get home.
Cons: It’s supposed to last up to five months, according to the company, but some testers saw frizz return after just two. One reviewer was also alarmed by initial dryness post-treatment, but delighted with her results post-shampoo.
Pros: The solution is combed through sections of shampooed, towel-dried hair, where it sits for anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes (depending on your texture) before being rinsed out. If your hair is ultra-coarse, you may also need to sit under a hot bubble-drier for 15 minutes. Hair is then rinsed, shampooed, conditioned, blown out and flatironed in the salon. You’re free to shampoo and style the same day at home with no restrictions, so there’s zero need to sleep with oily flat, odd-smelling strands.
Cons: If you have colored hair, it may lighten your locks by several shades. So be prepared to spend time and money color correcting. Smoothness lasts just three months max.
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Supersilk Smoothing System
Pros: The manufacturers invite you to “swim, surf or sit on the beach and enjoy frizz-free silky tresses.” We’d accept walking through a swampy subway station, then sitting in our questionably air-conditioned cubicle with amazing hair, so, uh, sold. The ten-step process may sound daunting, but this particular treatment actually stands out for its low-maintenance application. The solution is spritzed onto hair sections, rather than painted on like traditional hair color, so there’s way less gloppy mess. Once hair is saturated, you sit in a showercap for as little as 20 minutes, depending on your texture. Next, hair is conditioned, blown out and flatironed—twice.
Cons: You are encouraged not to wash your hair at home for at least 24 hours. A bummer since tresses may retain a slight odor for up to three weeks (!). One reviewer also felt tingling when it was applied near her scalp.
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Cezanne Classic Treatment
Pros: First hair is washed with the brand’s purifying shampoo, then blown out (no conditioner to see here, folks). Next, your stylist massages the solution into your hair with her fingers before combing it through several times. You then sit for a mere 30 minutes sans shower cap or heat lamp (score!). Hair is then lightly rinsed, blown out, flatironed and you’re on your way. Wash your hair, swim, hit the gym, throw it up in a pony without restrictions. Live your best life with major shine while still retaining your natural waves and bounce.
Cons: While the vast majority of reviews are raves, the issue of odor does keep cropping up. One unhappy customer called the scent “terrible.” A fan we spoke to says: “My hair smells like Cheetos for months after, but it is totally worth it.” Is it though?
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Pros: If Sarah Jessica Parker swears by this plant-based formula, what more can we say? Perhaps that you can shampoo and color your hair immediately after application? And that the company went to great pains, enlisting two scientific laboratories, to verify its distinction as formaldehyde-free. It also claims to protect hair from environmental pollutants and UV rays.
Cons: Writes one fan: “The process does last for hours, so bring a book and prepare to have your hair rinsed, dried and flatironed over and over again.” Clear your schedule for at least four hours to be safe.
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