What is the difference between Keratin and Smoothing?

In the realm of hair care, the quest for sleek, smooth, and manageable locks has led to the development of various treatments and procedures.

Among these, Keratin treatments and smoothing procedures stand out as popular choices for individuals seeking to tame frizz, reduce volume, and achieve smoother hair texture.


While both are aimed at similar outcomes, there are distinct differences between the two approaches.

In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the nuances of Keratin treatments and smoothing procedures, exploring their methodologies, ingredients, effects, and considerations.

Understanding Keratin Treatments:

Keratin treatments have gained widespread popularity for their ability to transform unruly, frizzy hair into sleek, shiny locks.

At the core of Keratin treatments is the protein keratin itself, which is a key structural component of hair, skin, and nails.

These treatments typically involve the application of a keratin-rich formula to the hair, which is then sealed in using heat from a flat iron.

The process begins with the cleansing of the hair to remove any residue and open the hair cuticles, allowing the keratin solution to penetrate deeply.

The keratin formula is then applied section by section, ensuring thorough coverage.

Once applied, the hair is dried and straightened with a flat iron, effectively sealing the keratin into the hair shaft.

The heat helps to bond the keratin molecules to the hair, resulting in smoother, more manageable locks.

Key Differentiators of Keratin Treatments:

Keratin as the Hero Ingredient:

The primary ingredient in Keratin treatments is, unsurprisingly, keratin itself.

This protein works to replenish lost keratin in the hair, strengthening its structure and smoothing the cuticle.

Additionally, keratin helps to restore elasticity and shine, resulting in healthier-looking hair.

Temporary vs. Semi-Permanent Results:

While Keratin treatments can deliver impressive results in terms of smoothness and manageability, the effects are not permanent.

Depending on factors such as hair type, texture, and maintenance routine, the results typically last anywhere from four to six months.

Over time, as the treated hair grows out and is replaced by new growth, the effects gradually diminish.

Compatibility with Chemically-Treated Hair:

Keratin treatments are generally considered safe for use on chemically-treated hair, including colored, highlighted, or relaxed hair.

In fact, these treatments can help to improve the condition of chemically-damaged hair by restoring lost keratin and strengthening the hair shaft.

Understanding Smoothing Procedures:

Smoothing procedures, also known as hair smoothing treatments or Brazilian blowouts, share a common goal with Keratin treatments: to eliminate frizz, reduce volume, and create smoother, more manageable hair.

However, the methodologies and ingredients used in smoothing procedures differ from those of Keratin treatments, leading to distinct outcomes.

Unlike Keratin treatments, which focus primarily on replenishing keratin in the hair, smoothing procedures typically involve the use of chemical formulations to alter the structure of the hair.

These formulations often contain ingredients such as formaldehyde or its derivatives, which work to break the bonds in the hair, allowing it to be reshaped and smoothed.

The process of a smoothing procedure typically begins with the application of a clarifying shampoo to remove any buildup and open the hair cuticles.

Next, the smoothing solution is applied to the hair, saturating each strand from root to tip.

The hair is then dried and flat-ironed to seal in the smoothing solution and create a sleek, straight finish.

Finally, a neutralizing or sealing product is applied to lock in the results and ensure long-lasting smoothness.

Key Differentiators of Smoothing Procedures:

Chemical Formulations:

Unlike Keratin treatments, which rely primarily on keratin-rich formulas, smoothing procedures often utilize chemical formulations containing ingredients such as formaldehyde or its derivatives.

These chemicals work by altering the structure of the hair, breaking and reforming bonds to create a smoother, sleeker texture.

Immediate Results:

One of the key differences between smoothing procedures and Keratin treatments is the immediacy of the results.

While Keratin treatments may require a waiting period before the full effects are apparent, smoothing procedures typically deliver instant results, leaving the hair noticeably smoother and more manageable immediately after treatment.

Potential Health and Safety Concerns:

The use of formaldehyde or its derivatives in smoothing procedures has raised concerns regarding the potential health risks associated with these treatments.

Formaldehyde is classified as a carcinogen by organizations such as the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and exposure to high levels of formaldehyde vapor can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory system.

As a result, many countries have imposed regulations on the use of formaldehyde in cosmetic products, and some manufacturers have developed formaldehyde-free alternatives.


In conclusion, while Keratin treatments and smoothing procedures both offer effective solutions for taming frizz and achieving smoother, more manageable hair, they differ significantly in their methodologies, ingredients, and effects.

Keratin treatments rely on the protein keratin to replenish and strengthen the hair, delivering temporary results that last for several months.

In contrast, smoothing procedures utilize chemical formulations to alter the structure of the hair, providing immediate results that may pose health and safety concerns due to the use of ingredients such as formaldehyde.

Ultimately, the choice between Keratin treatments and smoothing procedures depends on individual preferences, hair type, and desired outcomes, and it is essential to weigh the benefits and potential risks carefully before undergoing either treatment.

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