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Keratin Hair Treatment Dangers

Scores of women are being lured to try out keratin hair treatments. However, there's a hitch here. Keratin hair treatments contain formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen.
Priya Johnson
Keratin hair treatments contain formaldehyde, which is nothing but a carcinogen. Research reveals that even the so-called formaldehyde-free keratin formulas contain large amounts of formaldehyde.
The perfect solution for unruly curls seemed to be the Brazilian keratin treatment.
However, what's all the uproar about it being deleterious? Several experts believe that a chemical called formaldehyde is being added to these straightening formulas to bring about the straightening effect. Formaldehyde is a chemical with several long and short-term effects.
An article published in Allure Magazine states that "some of the most popular BKT treatments contained at least ten times more formaldehyde than the 0.2 percent considered safe by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel." Ten times higher formaldehyde than the safety benchmark is something to be concerned about!
Dangers of Keratin Hair Treatment
  • We must remember that although the name is keratin hair treatment, the keratin in the formula only changes the structure of the hair. It is the formaldehyde in the formula that provides the straightening effect. Moreover, keratin hair straightening treatments without formaldehyde last only until the next hair wash, which clearly indicates that it's the formaldehyde that brings about the straightening effect.
  • Formaldehyde is a chemical known to cause cancer. The FDA does not prohibit the use of formaldehyde in the use of cosmetics, thus, cosmetic companies have no restriction in this area. But, on the other hand, the FDA has not approved this keratin hair treatment.
  • Formaldehyde is a dangerous substance that kills anything it comes in contact with. Then, imagine what effect chronic use of keratin hair straightening formulas can do to the body. However, the FDA is working on the safety of these hair treatments and have also recently identified formaldehyde as a carcinogen.
  • Formaldehyde is a carcinogen, but the controversy is about how much formaldehyde exposure conduces to cancer. 
This is not known. Keratin treatment specialists defend their stand by saying that the amount of formaldehyde in keratin is minimal and not high enough to spearhead cancer. "International Agency for Research on Cancer and as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen."
  • When keratin solution with formaldehyde is applied to the hair, it releases noxious fumes which are deleterious to not only the person getting this treatment done, but also to those in the vicinity. Eye and lung irritation, nosebleeds, rashes, dizziness, vomiting, etc. are among the other keratin hair treatment side effects caused due to formaldehyde exposure.
  • Stylists at the salon are coming in contact with these noxious fumes every time they carry out the keratin hair treatment for their clients. This affects the stylists health as much as it affects the client getting this treatment.
How does One protect Oneself?
Don't be fooled by the labels: 'formaldehyde free'. This is because even if the hair straightening product does not contain formaldehyde directly, there may be compounds that may turn into formaldehyde.
Most formaldehyde free hair straightening products contain methylene glycol, which forms formaldehyde on heat application. The best option to protect oneself, is by not opting for this treatment at all.
But, if you still want to go ahead with this treatment, then to reduce the dangers to some extent, ask for a mask while getting the treatment done. People who have wisely opted against this treatment, should check if the salon one visits offers this treatment or not.
Even if you are not getting this treatment done, you may still be in danger of formaldehyde exposure if somebody at the salon is getting the treatment done. Thus, switch to another salon if your salon is offering this treatment. For salon stylists, it's better to look for another job; a salon that doesn't offer these treatments.
And if a job change is impossible, at least make sure the salon has good ventilation and provides masks during the course of treatment.
What About Brazilian Blowout?
The Brazilian blowout hair straightening treatment touts of bonding amino acids into the hair, rather than keratin. Unlike the keratin hair treatment, one need not struggle through four days without washing or tying one's hair. When tests were conducted as a response to complaints made by salon stylists, formaldehyde content of 6.3 to 10% was found.
Thus, this hair straightening treatment is also no exception. Moreover, some clients who've got this treatment done are also complaining of hair loss and damaged roots. In fact, the manufacturers of Brazilian blowout line of salon products are battling lawsuits.
Then again there's the new Brazilian Blowout zero, which claims zero formaldehyde emissions. The formula lacks methylene glycol and its manufacturers claim it is safe unlike their previous products. However, what in this new formula is responsible for hair straightening?
If formaldehyde is removed, something needs to replace it. It's all very dicey! You never know how manufacturers would actually jeopardize people's lives for monetary profits.
Keratin Hair Treatments
Frequent styling, hair straightening, heating and coloring of hair reduces keratin quality of the hair. Keratin is an extremely strong protein forming a major part of the hair, which gets lost from the hair due to frequent abuse. Keratin smoothing treatment is a chemical procedure in which frizzy hair is transformed into smooth silky hair after just a single treatment (two hour session) and works well up to 3-6 months. After the treatment, women leave the salon with the spectacular, silky-smooth hair they always dreamed of!
Scientists found a way in which keratin, extracted from animal wool can be transformed into a mixture that acts like liquid hair. This keratin solution is applied onto the person's hair and is allowed to infuse with the hair by application of heat.
A flat iron is heated to a temperature of over 400 degrees Fahrenheit and then passed over the keratin applied hair. This will ensure locking or sealing of keratin in the hair follicles. The hair becomes shiny and smooth after the lost keratin has been replaced.
Available at a cost ranging from $150 to $800 or more, this keratin treatment has been available at salons across the US since the past few years, although this concept originated in Brazil.
After learning about keratin hair treatment dangers, it's obvious that the cost of achieving shiny, voluminous, silk smooth hair is very high. The probability of contracting cancer because of a beauty treatment seems ridiculous. Living with curls or frizzy hair is not that big a problem to live with, that one should go in for treatments that open the door for cancer. Ultimately, the decision is yours! Take it wisely!