Everything You Need to Know Before You Try a Keratin Treatment at Home

Lately, I've been slicking my hair back into a bun and forgetting about it more often than not. When humidity levels get up to over 70% in New York, when I wear my hair down, it usually turns into a mushroom cloud around my head in 10 minutes flat. Frizz isn't a bad thing by any means, but I've begun dreaming of doing something to my hair to make it a bit more equipped for the heat—namely, a keratin treatment

Keratin treatments are known for adding mirror-like shine to hair and rendering it virtually impervious to frizz. If you want your hair to be straighter and smoother, they're a perfect option to consider. They're an option on many salon service menus, but what if you could do a DIY keratin treatment at home? I caught up with Gregory Patterson, celebrity hairstylist and DIY color and styling expert for Sally Beauty, to get the lowdown on everything you need to know about at-home keratin treatments.

What exactly is a keratin treatment, and how does it work?

"A keratin treatment is a chemical procedure done in a salon, or at home, that can make hair look straighter and smoother," says Patterson. "It can last four to six months, adds intense shine, and reduces frizz." In order to get these results, a protein formula is applied to the hair and left to process, then sealed with a blow dryer or flat iron in thin sections. 

"I like to explain a keratin treatment similarly to a gel manicure that is cured and hardened under a curing light," says Patterson. "The product becomes set and cured, and remains that way until it gradually fades off in about four to six months."

How should you prep for an at-home keratin treatment?

First of all, always read the label and follow the instructions to a T for the best results. Patterson says that because keratin treatments are proteins that harden onto hair, you should prepare your hair for treatment by adding more moisture to your hair. Mix in a moisturizing hair mask about two weeks before treatment. Look for hair masks with nourishing ingredients like argan oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, or castor oil to quench strands.

Customer review: "I have fine hair and have always been trepidatious about hydration masks. But I can honestly say this mask is life changing for me. It doesn't leave my hair weighed down or greasy. It smells amazing too!"

How long do DIY keratin treatments last?

If you get a keratin treatment done in a salon, expect it to last four to six months, depending on how often you wash your hair. A DIY keratin treatment will last two to three months. "One big difference is that many salon formulas contain formaldehyde, which can be pretty intense and dangerous to inhale, of course," says Patterson. "Many at-home treatments are safer and formaldehyde-free."

How do you maintain an at-home keratin treatment? 

Patterson says that the best maintenance routine for keratin treatments starts with what you do to your hair in the shower and which products you're regularly using. "Look for shampoos and conditioners that are free from sodium chloride, sulfates, and parabens," he says. "Sulfates and sodium chloride specifically will strip the keratin treatment from your strands and you'll be left with your pre-treated tresses all too soon."

Customer review: "I have never used anything like this shampoo in my life! It’s absolutely amazing, and leaves my hair so clean, soft and shiny. It doesn’t leave your hair frizzy, so it’s extremely easy to straighten your hair. I definitely recommend using this shampoo."

Customer review: "This used with Ion Keratin shampoo definitely cuts down on frizz and keeps my hair soft. So much cheaper than the expensive name brands."

Another major key to prolonging your at-home keratin treatment is shampooing your hair less. Patterson recommends opting for dry shampoos and dry conditioners in lieu of traditional shampoos—especially during the first 72 hours post-application as the keratin treatment sets in. "These products will help absorb any oils or residue, and the dry conditioner will keep your hair soft and shiny between washes," he says. 

Customer review: "I have tried about 10 dry shampoos and this is by far the best. It is not sticky feeling, actually works, and has a light pleasant scent. I use this at night before bed."

Customer review: "I have been using this dry conditioner for a couple of weeks and I am very pleased with my decision. It really helps to make my hair less frizzy and provides moisture while also acting as a heat protectant while styling my hair."

When done correctly, DIY keratin treatments can be a great option for curbing frizz and adding shine to hair. Below, shop some of our favorite at-home options.

The 15 best at-home keratin treatments:

This treatment helps seal in hydration while giving professional-quality results. With coconut and murumuru, it also helps protect and strengthen hair. 

Customer review: "Definitely the best taming system ever! I have a wavy, frizzy hair which grows in all directions and hard to handle, however after using this product my hair is so shiny, super straight and looks healthy. I did the treatment at home and extremely happy with the result!"

This treatment helps reduce frizz and smooth hair while also lasting up to eight weeks. It's infused with vanillin, wheat germ, and argan oil to strengthen while it smooths. 

Customer review: "This is the only product I can use that will allow me to go without a wash every single day. Keeps my hair perfect and I def do not use as directed. I pass on the shampoo and simply use the 2nd part, put some in my hands, pass through my roots, dry as normally would, straighten or curl as normal and bam, works great!"

While not quite a traditional keratin treatment, this mask helps clinically reverse hair damage. It has a peptide technology that helps repair bonds for stronger, smoother, and shinier hair. 

Customer review: "Bought before getting my hair bleached, and I’m so glad I did. After my highlight appointment my hair felt like straw. This did the trick after two uses to make my hair feel back to normal! A must have for the bleach babes!"

If you have extremely damaged hair, this is the treatment for you. With keratin, collagen, and elastin, it's like a protein shake for your hair. 

Customer review: "I straighten, blow dry and abuse my hair constantly (almost daily). This product REALLY changed the texture and gave back shine to my hair. The mask is also great and the fragrance is great and lasts a all day."

Both argan and coconut oils are mixed in with proteins and amino acids for a deeply nourishing treatment that smooths hair. This treatment comes with a clarifying pre-wash to bring up hair's pH levels. 

Customer review: "My hair is manageable, not frizzy, and I saved so much not having to go to the salon. This is a perfect alternative, and great for the hot summer months to prevent frizzing."

With hydrolyzed collagen and keratin, this deep conditioner helps smooth and revive hair in a pinch. You'll end up with stronger, frizz-free strands. 

Customer review: "My hair needs this hair conditioner mask and the smell is so divine! I love that it's thick but no heavy. Soak for a few hours on dry hair. Rinsed out well and doesn't leave hair heavy or with a residue."

This treatment promises to help rebuild and strengthen hair while also cutting blow-drying time. A priming shampoo gets hair ready for treatment. 

Customer review: "I really loved that I was able do this at home by myself. I'm so happy with the results. I have naturally curly hair and it's gets frizzy. My hair feels smooth and so much easier to manage––and my curls are still full when I wear it natural. I'll be using this again for sure."

This is a cuticle-sealing serum, which helps keep hair soft without adding extra weight. Put it on towel-dried hair for best results. 

Customer review: "This is the only product that helps my fine hair grow. I used to have a lot of breakage and my hair is the longest it’s been in my adult life after 18 months of use. It’s pricy, but lasts a long time. Highly recommend."

This three-step program has everything you need for smoother hair. It also helps improve scalp health. 

Customer review: "This hair treatment product has worked wonders for my hair. Its nourishing formula has significantly improved the overall health and condition of my locks. I've noticed a remarkable difference in terms of increased shine, reduced frizz, and improved manageability. I highly recommend this product for anyone seeking a nourishing treatment to revive and transform their hair."

Infused with Keratix, this treatment gradually releases proteins into the hair over time so it lasts and lasts. It's also activated by heat, so it's easy to use. 

Customer review: "My greying hair is getting frizzier with age. I can’t afford salon keratin treatments. This works wonders for my hair. I can sleep on my styled hair and don’t have to do much in the morning to make it presentable. I’m super happy."

Smooth this onto hair before you blow-dry for a faster dry time and less frizz. 

Customer review: "I've tried several different products for my frizzy hair and none of them compare to this cream. It leaves my hair soft, shiny and frizz free and bonus... it smells great!"

This spray is supposed to act as a "mini keratin treatment" for hair. It works by blocking humidity to keep strands smooth. 

Customer review: "I have curly, dry frizzy hair which I like to wear straight. This product is amazing to keep the frizz away, makes my hair soft and shiny and healthy looking. You do have to put lot of product in as per instructions, but it really works. I have been using this product for over. 4 years."

Unlike other keratin treatments, this acts as a weekly smoothing treatment for hair. Keratin works in tandem with marine botanicals and vitamins to improve overall hair health. 

Customer review: "Love this product! It keeps my hair fresh. After using it, I have a healthy fresh glow that stays smooth. I use it once a week as a deep conditioning treatment. Works well."

People swear by It's a 10 products, and for good reason. This leave in softens hair while adding tons of shine and strength. 

Customer review: "This product has helped my hair come back to healthy and shinier than ever! The blow outs are way better because of this 10 product. I love it so much!!."

Use this serum on freshly washed and conditioned hair that's still wet. It helps keep hair smooth and shiny. 

Customer review: "I have been using it for two years, and it is the best product to apply when I dry my hair, I use it from medium to ends, or I apply it after straightening my hair! I like it because it is light when applied, and it provides shine, softness and blows my hair very manageable."

This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.