I did it.

Just as I anticipated, along came a Groupon offer for “Brazilian straightening with collagen care for short, mid-length or long hair from CHF 79.90” and due to my resolve as explained in my post from August, I purchased it without any further hesitation. Of course, I fell into the “long hair” category which came with a CHF 159.90 price tag, but considering my regular stylist told me it would cost CHF 600 for my type of hair, it seemed reasonable.

The treatment.

When I told the stylist how excited I was to try a keratin treatment, she promptly corrected me to let me know that this was a collagen-based solution (although her statement may have been informative rather than corrective, a subtlety lost in translation of her French spoken with a heavy regional accent). I really have no idea the difference between all these straightening treatments. When I lived in New York, lots of women I knew were getting their hair straightened through a Japanese process that did seem overly arduous. I also heard about a controversy surrounding the Brazilian treatments, mainly due to the dangers posed by the accompanying chemical fumes. I thought that the new keratin treatments were supposed to be not only safer, but actually good for you hair. The Groupon description stated “Straightening products with keratin, made with argan oil and collagen”, so I figured I was in the safe category.

It seems to me—and I am no expert—the keratin treatment is the Brazilian hair straightening process. I found a useful article on Yahoo! that explains the difference between the Brazilian and Japanese treatments. The short of it is:

The keratin hair straightening treatment involves applying a keratin solution directly onto dry hair, and then flat-ironing the hair using a flat iron to infuse the keratin into the hair cuticle…

Japanese straightening treatments … involve chemically relaxing the hair using a calcium-based hydroxide solution, or a lye based solution. … The Japanese hair straightening treatment does change the structure of the hair and can cause damage to weak strands…

While keratin itself can be restorative for your hair, according to a WebMD article on the subject, the solution can hold a danger associated with formaldehyde in the product, which is a carcinogen. The amount of formaldehyde supposedly varies from brand and salon and one would hope that most salons use a safe level, but who’s to know. Now where does collagen come in to all of this. From what I gather, both keratin and collagen are proteins naturally produced by the body, but for different functions. While keratin does the straightening part of the process, products that combine collagen can help strengthen your hair (eHow: Collagen & Keratin Hair Treatment).

The process.

Very simple. My hair was washed, and a product was applied to the wet hair using a really cool applicator comb (I need to get one). After about 45 minutes, the product was washed out and a second product was applied. After another 45 minutes and another rinsing, my hair was blown dry and then straighten with an iron.

The result.

After the hot iron, my hair was pin straight. I never saw anything like it on me. I have very long, think, curly, dark brown hair, so it kind of resembled Demi Moore’s style, but it was so flat that it actually seemed much wispier, as if my hair were as thin as Gwyneth Paltrow’s. I won’t lie, I felt pretty self-conscious and immediately missed my luscious locks. You cannot pin your hair (or even tuck it behind your ears) or wash it while the treatment is setting for three to four days, so I felt very vulnerable and just kind of wanted to hide. I could tell by my husband’s look when I walked in the door that he felt a similar shock. I was aware of a chemical adore, but it was light and really did not bother me. Each day that passed, my hair seemed to regain a bit of lift. But of course, the real test would come after washing it.

On day four I washed my hair. I had yet to find a sulfate-free shampoo as recommended but it was time (although eventually I did find L'Oreal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Color Care System Moisture ShampooL’Oreal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Color Care Shampoo at my local pharmacy, for a very reasonable price). I did expect my hair to air-dry Demi-style, but alas, this did not happen. In fact, allowing it to air-dry returned my hair to it’s Shirley Temple-style curls. Despite my initial disappointment, I did realize that there was less frizz. And after the following washing, when I whipped out the hair dryer, I realized that I could tame my locks in a fraction of the time I needed before. What took a good 40 minutes for barely dry, still ready to frizz hair went to less than 10 minutes for it doesn’t have to be dry and it still won’t frizz. To be fair, that was the promise.

I like it. It’s not Demi anymore, it’s still my wavy or curly hair depending on how I style it. It is just that the frizz is gone. If you read my previous post about my commitment-phobia (which manifests itself it many realms of my life other than hairstyles), I was not 100% behind the idea of completely changing my hair. Would I do it again? Not for the full price, it just is not that life-changing to justify the cost. Plus, I’ve gotten used to dealing with my hair and I’ve found lot’s of products that help me tame it. The best is Aveda Brilliant Anti-Humectant Pomade Aveda Brilliant Anti-Humectant Pomade. Use just a tiny bit on wet hair before styling and it’s like a moisture barrier to prevent frizz. I also use Kerastase Nutritive Oleo-Relax SerumKerastase Nutritive Oleo-Relax Serum to tame dry frizz. I thought both products were overly pricey, but when you consider how long they last (since you need only a dab of both) versus the cost of the full straightening treatment, it’s a bargain. I’d even prefer a DIY version if a good one exists, like Sephora’s KeratinPerfect 30-Day Brazilian Hair Smoothing System Essentials Collection.

For now, I’m satisfied with what I have. Since “beach waves” and generally less-styled hair is more fashionable, my desire for straight hair has really diminished. It’s always really been about the frizz anyway. Let’s just see how long the “frizz-free” results last.

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