Keratin treatments have been around for years now, but when they first entered salons, they were an absolute game-changer for people with coarse, curly or frizzy strands. Featuring keratin, which is a protein that’s naturally found in your hair, a single treatment could smooth and strengthen strands for months at a time.
The downside? They can run you upwards of two to three hundred dollars a pop and require a few hours in the salon (which is something that’s especially challenging during 2020, when every “non-essential” outing is essentially a calculated risk).
The good news is that there are plenty of keratin treatments you can do from the comforts and safety of your home. Though the results are temporary and won’t last as long as the salon version, they’re are a fraction of the cost and are typically much gentler on your hair.
From keratin shampoos to keratin masks and serums, we’ve rounded up the best 10 keratin treatments to try at home that will smooth your strands and make them more manageable.
1. Kérastase Resistance Shampoo for Severely Damaged Hair
Do you get regular highlights—or have you recently gone blonde? This shampoo is a great option for anyone with bleached or processed strands. Formulated with keratin proteins and amino acids, it helps to repair individual hair fibers, while gently cleansing your scalp of residue. Plus, it lathers up nicely and smells—for lack of a better word—expensive (which, to be fair, it is). We sub it in every other wash to get the hair smoothing benefits and more mileage out of each bottle.
2. It's a 10 Miracle Leave-in Plus Keratin
This nourishing spray is best used on freshly washed hair as a leave-in treatment or heat protectant of sorts. Simply mist it all over the mid-lengths and ends and comb it through before styling (or air drying) your strands. Infused with hydrolyzed keratin, keratin amino acids, panthenol and silk amino acids, it protects the natural keratin that’s already in your hair, while enveloping each strand with moisture, so that you’re left with silky soft results.
3. Chi Keratin Silk Infusion
For curlier hair types, we recommend this styling treatment, which uses real silk and keratin proteins to hydrate and smooth parched strands. Simply squeeze a small amount onto the palms of your hands before working it through your hair. Fans praise it for making their hair more manageable and glossier without weighing things down or making their ringlets fall flat.
4. Vegamour Gro Foundation Kit
This three-step system includes a shampoo, conditioner and scalp serum. The shampoo and conditioner are infused with karmatin, which is their proprietary vegan keratin and a microencapsulated silk protein that bonds to strands and remains attached even after rinsing so you get smooth results with every use. The scalp treatment sloughs away excess oils and buildup on the scalp, so you’re setting the (ahem) foundation for healthy hair from root to tip.
5. Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Wild Ginger Keratin Intensive Hair Treatment
This deep conditioning mask features KeraTriplex, which is a blend of keratin protein, to rebuild and repair damaged hair. It also has awapuhi extract to replenish moisture and add shine. Use weekly to smooth rough strands and protect against further damage (especially if you like to blow dry or iron your hair fairly regularly). Also of note: the scent, which is a delicious amalgam of ginger tea, Italian bergamot and Sicilian lemon up top and features additional notes of lily, jasmine, musk, wood and spice.
6. Hask Keratin Protein Smoothing Deep Conditioner Packette
As far as bang for your buck goes, you can’t beat the price of these single-use treatments. Loaded with keratin amino acids and hydrolyzed keratin, as well as coconut and jojoba oil, it’s basically a hydrating smoothie for dry, puffy strands. At three dollars a pack, it’s a great option for anyone who is new to keratin and wants to test the waters out. (It’s also handy to keep in your overnight bag.)
7. Keratin Complex Infusion Keratin Replenisher
As anyone with thick or coarse hair can attest, a little bit of styling cream goes a long way. This one is a longtime favorite for many because it cuts down on blow-dry time, while also taming frizz thanks to the hydrolyzed keratin and soy proteins in the formula. Tip: It’s especially helpful when you’re planning on wearing your hair straight (or are headed someplace humid).
8. Tresemmé Expert Selection Keratin Smooth Serum
This drugstore serum is formulated with keratin and marula oil to make your hair softer and sleeker. Start with one pump on the mid-lengths and ends before blow drying to tame any puffiness and add a touch more to just the ends after styling if you want additional shine. At six bucks a bottle, it’s an affordable option for anyone who is on a budget.
9. L'ANZA Keratin Healing Oil Hair Treatment
On the flip side, if you are ready to make a slightly bigger investment, this oil has rave reviews for being as healing as it is protective. Packed with a keratin protein blend and a host of other hydrating oils like babassu kernel oil and acai fruit oil, it replenishes moisture, while restoring elasticity to brittle strands. (Coffee seed oil provides added UV and thermal protection.) Fans praise it for making their hair “feel amazing” and “look so silky and healthy” without being too greasy or sticky on strands.
10. Complex Brazilian Keratin Hair Blowout Treatment
Last but not least, this Amazon favorite (it has over 2,000 glowing reviews) is as close to an in-salon keratin treatment as you can get. You just have to follow the enclosed instructions carefully for best results. This includes using the clarifying shampoo to start, skipping conditioner (which can create a barrier between the hair and the keratin treatment itself), and applying heat as directed. Doing this treatment at home will definitely require additional care and patience, but the impressively smooth results (as evidenced by some of the photos in the reviews) suggest it’s worth the hassle—especially given the price.