Brazilian Keratin Treatment 411

A Brazilian Keratin hair treatment (BKT), also known as “escova progressiva”, is a considerably costly salon procedure that promises to transform frizzy, dull, dry hair into silky smooth, shiny strands that last for up to 4 months. Sound too good to be true? It is. Unless you like wearing a gas mask at the salon.

Wildly popular in all the blogs and a hot topic in those social networking forums I love to hangout in, everyone seems to be thinking about getting one. Wait! I type. Before you call your stylist to book your salon appointment, make sure you have all the info you need to make your choice. Silky hair is good, but with a Brazilian Keratin Treatment you might be getting more than you planned.

What you and your stylist may not know is that the active ingredient in these BKT “wonder” treatments is formaldehyde, which is a dangerous chemical, especially if you breathe it in. Hence the protective equipment – face masks, gloves, ventilation fans – as a safety precaution when giving or getting a treatment. Is straight hair worth wearing a gas mask? Now THAT’S something to consider.

According to Allure Magazine (we love them!) “some of the most popular BKT treatments contain at least ten times more formaldehyde than the .2 percent considered safe by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. The FDA doesn’t currently regulate cosmetics, but they are investigating the safety of escova progressiva treatments.” Now, I’m no expert, and I have considered a BKT when I originally heard about them, but ten times more formaldehyde really sounds like a bad idea. Very bad. There’s no way that’s good for you.

The best, or I should say worst part about the Allure Magazine expose? I’ll loosely paraphrase here, but the gist is: “Keratin has nothing to do with straightening. Nada. There is nothing in Keratin that will change the structure of the hair, it’s the formaldehyde that makes the treatment work. Keratin is window dressing and provides a good marketing story.” Sounds like a sham to me. And really, who wants that kind of toxic treatment?

I’ll opt for my own straightening treatment – a super smoothing shampoo and conditioner combo, followed by a silky straightening lotion, a great flat iron and a strong thermal protectant. And maybe a trip to Brazil!


Credits: Allure Magazine

For more info, check out this article: Brazilian Keratin Treatment FAQ’s.

26 Responses

  1. […] As firm believers in helping you do your hair homework before undergoing any process that will change your hair dramatically, we surfed around and found this video so you can see what really happens. We are very wary of any chemical treatment that has a potential to be damaging to your delicate strands. Most Brazilian treatments (BKT) contain as much as 2% formaldehyde. Yes formaldehyde, and many treatments can contain higher percentages than that. For more info, read our article Brazilian Keratin Treatment 411. […]

    • Well, I am sure of what your saying, Formaldehyde is awful!!! As a hair stylist myself I think it’s terrible to put clients through it but basically…. it WORKS and you go thru it while the process is done. THATS IT, how much worse is it than smoking, second hand smoke, or even pollution? Everything is bad in excessive amounts, greasy food, cheese, alcoholic drinks, yes too much is bad! But going thru a treatment that can actually make you LOVE the hair you’ve been blesses/cursed with can be a freeing experience for many people, Now as far as us stylist breathing in the toxins, not just from these treatments but all chemical processing perms, relaxers, amonia charged colors… LORD HELP US

  2. […] It is not a relaxer, it’s a chemical treatment (with Formaldehyde with a capital “F”) that straightens your hair. Read more about the dangerous risks of a BKT treatment here. […]

  3. […] tells you about her battle & road to recovery from severe cystic acne. StyleBell uncovers The 411 on Brazilian Keratin Treatments! Beautynomics covers the Sunsilk’s Life Can’t Wait Press Launch in Manila. Bionic […]

  4. As a brazilian I must say some people in my country do this kind of treatment although they know about the dangerous that formaldehyde gives. Some professionals are having trouble in justice because of the death of some clients that make this procedure… When the treatment have no formaldehyde the results aren´t so spectacular however you don´t take risks.

  5. […] StyleBell has got the 411 on Brazilian keratin treatments. […]

  6. […] StyleBell uncovers The 411 on Brazilian Keratin Treatments! […]

  7. […] StyleBell uncovers The 411 on Brazilian Keratin Treatments! […]

  8. […] StyleBell uncovers The 411 on Brazilian Keratin Treatments! […]

  9. […] StyleBell uncovers The 411 on Brazilian Keratin Treatments! […]

  10. […] StyleBell uncovers The 411 on Brazilian Keratin Treatments! […]

  11. The really sad and even more shocking thing is that after the Allure article appeared, more people were drawn to the treatment than ever. People want it even though they know it’s dangerous! How crazy is that?

  12. […] For more information on Brazilian Keratin Treatments, see our article: Brazilian Keratin Treatments 411. […]

  13. People people people. With all the advancements in curly haircare why bother with Brazillian Keratin or Japanse straighteners where you are going to get damage under the best of circumstances and if the operator makes a mistake look out. And if you want to straighten your hair blow dryers and flat irons have come a long way u just get with you pay for, but the real secret is in the products to keep it from kinking back up too fast. And if you don’t have the money to keep up the chemical straighteners it grows out to curly roots and straight ends not a cute look. Because it can only straighten what outside the scalp so u have to keep up those root just like with color. Hair grows from the scalp out in my business people ask me all the time and its amazing how many people don’t grasp the concept.

  14. I did some research myself as I wanted to do it and found a better alternative with a product called, Keratin Hair Complex Therapy by Coppola.It has no Formaldehyde.
    I’m a hairstylist in NYC and decided to call the company to get more info and they refered me to their Director of Education in NYC, Henri Borday who works out of the Riccardo Magggiore Salon on 57th Street.(
    I spoke with him and then made an appointment. Have to say – I LOVE MY HAIR. There is absolutely no frizz to my curls when I wear it natural and if I want to blow dry, it ony takes me half the time now. I never have a “Bad Hair Day” now, even in humid weather.

    • Lisa — Thanks for the reccomendation. I went to see Henri and I am one happy woman. I love what he did to my hair.
      Only problem was tracking him down as he no longer works at the salon you mentioned. They were nice enough though to let me know he relocated to

      Mizu Salon
      505 Park Ave.
      NY, NY 10022
      Tel. 212-688-6498

    • Lisa, thanks so much your commets really helped!
      I have been reading so much on the Kertain treatment and the worry that it is linked to with Cancer which is putting me off it. But it does sound like a dream come true, I have curly hair which is long and takes me forever to style I do colour my roots (cover grey hair) do you think it would still work? And when you wash it and leave it to dry natually do you really feel the difference? So the treatment by Coppola for sure doesn’t have any “formaldehyde’?

  15. I really think people should consider an alternative and not to risk their lives in the treament. thanks for the information.

  16. I should be grateful if you mentioned it’s price.
    Thank you

  17. I have thin, fine, color treated hair, I have a hard time finding products for my hair that won’t weigh my hair down or oily looking, I wash, blow dry and flat iron it about 5 days a week. I was watching the Home Shopping Club and seen Keratine 30 day hair treatment and I didn’t know about the Formaldehyde. Can you please help me and tell me what kind of shampooe, conditioner and hair product before I flat iron. Thanks

  18. Hi ,, I REALLY need to know whether is harmful or not to go through the keratin treatment more often than usually since the last time was acctually from 3 weeks only and am really satisfied with the results and been thinking to repeat it again on the 17th of june but i need to know whether its dangerous that it might lead to hair loss or anything harmful to my body or hair !!!!
    Regards, Jasmine

  19. Keratin is the protein that makes up your hair and nails. When you get a perm, there are disulfide bridges that are chemically broken and then reformed while your hair is twisted into curls. Then the bonds are chemically reformed while the hair is in the curled position, changing the shape of the hair.

    I’m not sure what chemicals are used in perms – but they are major chemicals.

    This is like a straightening perm. I’m going to look around for more info, but it seems this works in about the same fashion – chemically breaking bonds within the hair shaft then using heat to reform the bonds and straightening the hair (with the repeated strokes of the flat iron).

    (I have a degree in chem.)


  21. I’ve had it done many times! And I love it! It does make your eyes burn but the result is curl/frizz free hair and no need to use the hairdryer for so long like before. I was having wrist problems of using the hairdryer for so long, trying to make my unmanageable hair looks tidy… now I only take 5 minutes blow drying and I don’t need to pull it! Saving my time and my wrist!

  22. So…as a beauty professional, here’s my 2 cents…formaldehyde? Well, for a starters, all your nail polish, it’s got it! With the exception of Zoya brand polish that advertises being a formaldehyde free product; yup that’s it. What about your lipstick? Mm-hmm there too! What about the other toxins women will put in their bodies? You can’t tell me that getting your hair straightened every 4-6 months is any better than injecting a neurotoxin containing botulism aka BOTOX at roughly the same frequency is any better? Coppola brand BKT and Global Formaldehyde-Free contain a few % points under what is considered “safe.” At least my clients aren’t burning their hair off with scorching irons anymore after they’ve had this treatment. Less splint ends too. I believe in it and that’s my 2 cents.


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