The only person who really knows a celebrity’s hair is the celebrity themselves and their hairdresser – but there’s such a suspiciously high proportion of very straight hair on the red carpet that the use of keratin straightening treatments, also known as the Brazilian Blow Dry, is thought to be prolific.
There’s nothing shady or illegal about using keratin straightening treatments, but just like fake tan, hair extensions and cosmetic surgery, it’s often something a woman may like to keep to herself.
But, as many beauty writers are now speculating about the links between keratin treatments and hair loss, could they really be causing untold damage to the hair?
Aniston owns up to damaged hair
The cracks in the keratin story first became public when former Friends star Jennifer Aniston suddenly started sporting a chin-length bob at the end of 2013, which she said was an attempt to regain the health of her hair after keratin straightening treatments. In cutting off the ends – quite dramatically, as her hair had been significantly longer – she hoped to put some vitality back into her locks. “My hair did not react well to it (the keratin treatment),” she told Elle magazine at the time.
More recently both Sienna Miller and Jennifer Lopez (pictured) have had their long, straight hair cut into ‘lobs’ (long bobs) – and speculation is rife that this, too, was something of an emergency measure following hair breakage after keratin straightening treatment. This causes the hair to become brittle and snap off along the shaft, giving the hair an unwelcome frizzy appearance; it can also make the hair look thinner.
The Brazilian Blow Dry originated in Brazil before spreading around the world, but it is especially popular in the US where Formaldehyde, which is sometimes used to strengthen keratin hair-straightening solutions and is highly regulated in Europe, has been seen in some extremely high concentrations. Alarmingly, Formaldehyde has been classed as “probably carcinogenic”, and while certainly not used in all keratin hair-straightening formulations, customers seldom really know.
Talking to Harper’s Bazaar, LA-based celebrity hairstylist David Babaii said that one of the most negative aspects to the treatment is the temperature that the hair has to be heated to in order for the straightening to take effect. “Subjecting a fine or heavily highlighted head of hair to a 450 degree flat iron may not leave your hair feeling as wonderful as these treatments tend to claim,” he said. Subjecting the hair to high temperatures, even just through over-use of heated styling tools, is already known to cause hair loss from styling damage.
Heat can lead to breakage
The process is known as keratin treatment because it is based around liquid keratin, a protein that is used in a number of cosmetic products. While keratin itself is not controversial, there is no getting around the fact that, for the time being at least, high heat is needed to complete the treatment. This, say experts, is what is likely to lead to hair breakage.
“The quest for beautiful hair can all too easily end badly if damaging products are applied to the hair,” says Leonora Doclis, senior trichologist at The Belgravia Centre. “Formaldehyde is a potential trigger for hair loss, and there have certainly been claims that Brazilian Blow Dry-style treatments can lead to serious problems. If your hair is thinning or if you have scalp problems, we would certainly recommend that any hairdressing procedures which involve chemicals and very high heat should be avoided.”
Whilst a good haircut and intensive conditioning treatments can help to deal with minor cases of hair breakage caused by keratin treatments, if the damage is more severe you may want to consult a hair loss specialist. Often a course of treatment combined with appropriate hair growth supporting products can help combat these effects.
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.