Sunday, March 29, 2009

Liquid Keratin

The latest round of questions I've been getting is about a treatment called "Liquid Keratin." Many curly girls are asking me if it is as safe and effective a way of straightening at home as the company claims it is.

Frankly, based on what I've heard from others and my own training as a cosmetologist, I think Liquid Keratin is a whole lot of bad news and not a whole lot of anything else. I have absolutely no qualms about sitting here and telling you I believe there is a bunch of misleading information in their marketing and they are not being honest with consumers about this product.

First of all, what is Liquid Keratin?

The company says it is a "...revolutionary patented treatment that infuses curly, frizzy, unmanageable hair with keratin protein that it's naturally missing in just 30 minutes...unlike salon treatments, Liquid Keratin DOES NOT contain Formaldehyde or harmful chemical ingredients..[it] is a spray in treatment with amazing results of straighter, smoother, stronger and longer hair instantly!"

From the above, which can be found on the company's web site, I think we can agree consumers are being led to believe this is a safe way to straighten their hair using only a protein infusion treatment. Unfortunately, their marketing is misleading for quite a few reasons, as I have outlined below:

1) Not everyone who has curly hair has keratin protein that is "naturally missing." On the contrary, coarse-haired curlies manufacture an overabundance of protein "naturally" in their hair on their own. If you put more protein--especially with a treatment like this--on top of hair that is already protein-heavy, you will have a dry, straw-like mess on your hands.

2) Hair is permanently straightened or curled by breaking what are called the "disulfide bonds" in your hair--the bonds that are responsible for the shape of your hair strand. The marketing of this product leads consumers to believe the keratin protein infusion is what is responsible for straightening the hair; however, it is absolutely impossible for protein alone to break disulfide bonds to permanently straighten curly hair. That takes chemicals such as sodium hydroxide, ammonium thioglycolate...or, formaldehyde.

And here's where it starts to get really interesting.

3) The company bills the product as formaldahyde-free. They literally scream it at you in caps: "DOES NOT contain Formaldehyde or harmful chemical ingredients." However, if you look at the ingredients on their product label, you will see one near the top called "Biformyl." And another name for biformyl is oxalaldehyde, which happens to belong to the group of organic compounds called aldehydes...a group to which formaldehyde also belongs.

4) There is protein in this treatment; however, the order of the ingredients on the product ingredient label tells me this is simply a formaldehyde-type straightener with a little protein keratin thrown in so they can legally call it a keratin treatment instead of what it really is...a procedure that is banned in many salons because of the risk of sickness from fume inhalation.

5) Quite a few women with lightened or bleached hair who have actually used this product reported it turned their color a horrible, brassy orange color, which they then needed to have redone. Something a pure protein treatment wouldn't do.

So, there you have it. This safe little at-home treatment doesn't seem so safe all of a sudden, does it? And I have to wonder: what do we think might possibly occur if an individual with asthma or other breathing-related health issues is exposed to an aldehyde without their knowledge?

My biggest issue is this: I have a BIG problem with sneaky, unethical marketing. I don't like it when any product manufacturer tries to pull the wool over the customer's eyes just so they can make a buck. And I invite any representative from the Liquid Keratin company to address the points above and tell us why they are not being misleading or dishonest in their advertising of this product.

You can contact the Liquid Keratin company at:

Liquid Keratin, Inc.
101 King High Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
CANADA M3H 3
0001 - (647) 588-5515
pr@liquidkeratin.com


24 comments:

Sage Vivant said...

Fantastic post, Tiffany! Thank you for the information. It's just another reason not to straighten one's hair. :)

Maria said...

So does this mean that your hair will be PERMANENTLY straightened with this product? Someone from NC asked me this since she used it and now her curls are lifeless. Will she have to transition and cut her hair to get her curls back? Please say no! I promised I'd look into it for her and I'd hate to break the bad news. Thank you! Love your blog!

StruttsWife said...

Maria,

I'm afraid the chances of her curls recovering fully without transitioning are slim. When chemicals like formaldehyde-derivatives are used, they break some of the bonds in the hair which cannot be rebuilt without additional chemical treatments...which then truly puts the hair at risk for severe damage.

CheesyToast said...

Thank you for posting this. I didn't know I have and allergy to Formaldehyde. I also have a history of astma but it was not bad. I used a couple of products with formadehyde( didn't know) in them and had a terrible reaction. It scared me.

Now I am an avid product reader and barely use any products now.
I am very sensitive to the ones I use already.

Thank you, thank you for this post...I really dislike unethical marketing too.

Anonymous said...

Why is it no one states that it breaks chemical bonds, not even in the reporting in magazines like marie Claire or the Time out New York? I am AA and had a friend who did this and her curls came back with a vengeance. I just want clarification that this does in fact break the bonds like a relaxer. And is it just this product, or all brazilian keratin like the one from lasio studios reported in the time out ny article, as having one of the safety limits of formaldehyde in their product?

Aine said...

In response to:
3) The company bills the product as formaldahyde-free. They literally scream it at you in caps: "DOES NOT contain Formaldehyde or harmful chemical ingredients." However, if you look at the ingredients on their product label, you will see one near the top called "Biformyl." And another name for biformyl is oxalaldehyde, which happens to belong to the group of organic compounds called aldehydes...a group to which formaldehyde also belongs.

So? Aldehydes are not inherently bad because because they are the group in which formaldehyde resides in. For instance, some sugars are also aldehydes. You might not want them in your hair, but not because they happen to be aldehydes.

StruttsWife said...

Re: So? Aldehydes are not inherently bad because because they are the group in which formaldehyde resides in. For instance, some sugars are also aldehydes. You might not want them in your hair, but not because they happen to be aldehydes.
========================
Oxaldehyde (aka glyoxal):

"A white, amorphous, deliquescent powder, (CO.H)2, obtained by the partial oxidation of glycol. It is a double aldehyde [containing the group COII twice], between glycol and oxalic acid (Biology Online, http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Glyoxal).

"... forms a green vapour which has a pungent smell" [Organic Chemistry, Beyer/Walter/Lloyd, 1997).

"... the reactivity of glyoxal is comparable with that of formaldehyde (Directory of Microbicides for the Protection of Materials, Springer Netherlands Publishing, 2004).

"Glyoxal 40% has a moderate toxicity by the oral route, a low toxicity by the dermal route and a moderate toxicity by inhalation...causes slight to definite skin irritations depending on the exposure duration...acts as a sensitizer to the skin of guinea pigs and humans...mainly used as a chemical intermediate and also for a small part as an active ingredient in disinfectant products in preparation with other components (formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, quaternary ammonium)." (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Screening Information Data Set, UNEP Publication: www.chem.unep.ch/irptc/sids/OECDSIDS/107222.pdf )

A bit more of a concern than sugar, I'm thinking.

Anonymous said...

Although your post was very interesting and tends to make your reader to stay away from LK. I am glad I got to read your post after I used LK. Because, I naturally have very curly kinky and freezy hair. I use to spend many hours and lots of money to straighten my hair with all sorts of chemical products that are in the market. Inspite of that the results were temporary and I never had a healthy relaxed head of hair. Also, I decided to stop chemically straightening my hair so that I can be able to have healthy hair that could be colored to cover my gray.However, I still had to style my hair with blow dryers and hot irons. Or if I wanted to have my curly hair, I had to use more products to have a nice curl without freeze. Since my recent usage of Liquid Keratin, I spend less time styling, spend less money on products, and my hair color is actually better. Seriously I am not a spokesperson for this product. I am just an average person who was frustrated with her hair and now I don't worry about it. I just enjoy my nice hair that takes less time to style.

Anonymous said...

A professional hair stylist would never recommend a do-it-yourself product. God forbid we would stop going to a salon. I have been doing thermal reconditioning for years and plan to stop because of the extreme cost. I pay over $450 every few months. The procedure involves some work by the stylist and quite a bit of waiting around while the chemical does its job. I then have to tip. Hairdressers will be making more than surgeons soon. I plan to try liquid keratin because it can't be nearly as toxic as what many of us are presently doing and it certainly won't cost a fraction. By the way, there is no such thing as permanent when it comes to hair...only the hair you can see will be permanently changed, the hair growing in will always be what your genes dictate.

Anonymous said...

I have curly/frizzy hair that drives me crazy and I live in South Florida where it's very humid most of the time. I used this product for the first time last week and it was fantastic. I blew it out in half the time and it was silky straight with some remaining body. The color wasn't changed one bit. I got lots of compliments. I've been so tired of being a slave to my hair. I love this product.

Anonymous said...

I have read the posts and am very disappointed at the misinformation that is taken as gospel. First of all, Liquid Keratin never claimed to permanently straighten hair, just make curls more manageable and make hair easier to straighten. It is absolutely true that this product does not contain formaldehyde. It does infact contain biformyl or glyoxal which is an aldehyde. Not all aldehyde substances are bad but people associate anything within that compound group as being similar to formaldehyde. Instead of simply "reading" labels and forming your own opinion why don't u in turn contact the company yourself and ask questions. That way your not being biased on what others have said or read or heard. I am actually a new Liquid Keratin customer with long curly hair. I am biracial and I absolutely LOVE the results I got after using it. Stop being so scary and just form your own opinion. Everyone isn't going 2 get the same results, but that's with any product. Be smart about your purchases but definitely do the appropriate research and make sure your facts are indeed facts.

StruttsWife said...

As I stated in an earlier comment, the chemical used in liquid keratin is not harmless--as quoted by several science texts, to which I referred in detail. That is hardly just "reading" labels and forming my own opinion, don't we think?

And I have tried to contact the company on several occasions--once prior to publishing this post to give them a chance to present their point of view--but they have yet to respond to any of my emails.

I also find it quite interesting how the company's text on their web site has changed since I published my blog (as have others). What was touted as a treatment that could be done "in just 30 minutes!" is now touted as a treatment that can infuse protein into the hair "for up to 30 days." No more permanent promises any more, hmmm?

What's "scary" then, in my opinion, is a company who will not answer detailed emails or questions about their product and whose text on their web site about the benefits and "facts" can change at will.

Anonymous said...

I'm very sceptical of new products and have read many articles on liquid keratin and results etc as well as read the origins of Keratin. When I saw the video on the application process, that was enough to make up my mind. Using a FAN, HEAVY DUTY RUBBER GLOVES and GOGGLES - well makes you think doesn't it - if not it should. I think we need to be content with what God gave us and not be so vain, live life to its fullest and be chemical free.

Anonymous said...

Don't care, don't care!! Liquid Keratin is the most fatastic product I have ever used.

Cynthia said...

This is the most honest and technically informative I've found so far on the web. (Aside from numerous articles about women who have had extreme breakage within days of application of keratin straighteners).

In particular the info about the renamed aldehyde "bioryl" I think it was. EXTREMELY helpful.

Calling these products formaldehyde free is like calling cigarettes nicotine-free, because it doesn't say "nicotine" on the cigarette ingredients.

Cynthia said...

This is the most honest and technically informative I've found so far on the web. (Aside from numerous articles about women who have had extreme breakage within days of application of keratin straighteners).

In particular the info about the renamed aldehyde "bioryl" I think it was. EXTREMELY helpful.

Calling these products formaldehyde free is like calling cigarettes nicotine-free, because it doesn't say "nicotine" on the cigarette ingredients.

Anonymous said...

i had some major damage from a curling treatment and the only thing that could rescue my ends and (over night i must say)was the liquid Keratin 30 day treatment the one in the brown bottles. i have used the global Keratin, coppela Keratin, copella blow out ,brazilian blow out and now liquid Keratin. by far its the best one. its almost odorless, no fumes to burn your eyes, it dosnt smoke up when you dry it or iron it and it dosnt sit flat between washes. and dosnt permantly straighten. i use it in my hair and leave it to dry naturaly (curly) and no fuzz to be found. i would highly recomend liquid keratin over any other keratin treatment. use on straight or curly hair it just makes styling 100% easyer. and about the whole chemical thing chicken are pumped with them and no one will stop eating them - why live with frizzy hair when you dont even get it on your skin and you dont have to blow dry it in. ive stopped using all the other leave in treatments ,styling products and rearly blow dry my hair now as its soft and healthy. just use the 30 day spray in after its washed and its up to you to dry or leave dry naturly. curly,straight, dry, frizzy hair people should give it a go at least once.imy fringe is blonde and its not yellow. this spray is clear.

Anonymous said...

as a hair dresser breakage from these products can be caused by not removing the excess and not drying it properly before putting a hot iron over it and blobing the cutical out.same thing happens with hair being just wet we have all heard the noise hair makes when you run irons on wet hair.nasty stuff. so in all honasty if the hair is left to dry naturaly or blowdry as long as is dry breakage will be almost impossible from this product.i have use several keratins and also agree that the liquid keratin is the better one on fine curls.i prefer to use this at home treatment than getting the big proccess done in the salon and it dosnt smoke or burn my eyes.and much cheeper

Keratin said...

Nice blog.

Richey said...

I have extremely curly hair and have been looking for natural curly hair products that won't damage or break my hair. Reading this article makes me worry that bottle labels are not being honest with me. What are the best ways to tell if a company is being honest with consumers or not when it comes to hair products?

The Curl Whisperer said...

It is important to understand that, according to FDA regulations, any keratin treatment that contains less than 2% formaldehyde can be marketed as formaldehyde-free. There is NO way to permanently alter a wave pattern without some level of chemical intervention, no matter what the company's market-speak says, no matter how they "phrase" it. If you want to do the service, know that you will be having a (potentially damaging) chemical service done to your hair. There is no such thing as "natural" when it comes to altering a wave pattern.

EmilyKate said...

Thanks for this, just saw the product featured on Jezebel and was about to head on to ebay to get some... Jezebels' supposedly unpaid and unbiased article did not point out any of these drawbacks!

Anonymous said...

To be fair, EmilyKate, Jezebel didn't necessarily know about the drawbacks. They don't seem biased, just uninformed. The bottom line is, the writer used it and liked it, she's not a shill, she just recommended a product that she found useful.

-Cindy

Anonymous said...

I have naturally curly hair, I decided to try the Keratin treatment to make my hair more manageable. After the first time, my hair was soft, shiny and straight and was pleased with the result. But after the second, I noticed that my hair was breaking alot and my curls were not coming back. I havent had a treatment for about a year and my hair is worse than i started off with, the treatment has completely changed my hair structure. There is litte known about this treatment and the damage it can cause, I wish i had read this blog before I had the treatment.