How to Do a Brazilian Keratin Hair Treatment (BKT) at Home
Anybody who tells you that it’s too complicated to do the Brazilian Keratin Treatment (BKT) by yourself at home must work for a salon. They want you to fork over anywhere from $300 to $600 for them to do something that you are completely capable of doing yourself. Now, if you're loaded with money and can afford to do that kind of thing, then by all means, go for it! But most of us would rather save that kind of money and just do it ourselves.
You may think it's a bit extreme to call this a life-changing treatment, but think about it . . . how many hours do you spend every single day battling frizzy, curly or wavy hair? If it's super curly, you probably apply gobs of product to fight frizz and puffiness. Wouldn't it be AMAZING to be able to blow-dry your hair and have it lay flat all by itself, with minimal styling?! Think of all the time and frustration you will save yourself.
The dream of having soft, shiny, straight hair is what brought me to try this treatment. Results last for 2–3 months.
Where to Purchase Brazilian Keratin Treatment
I purchased mine, called Moroccan Keratin Treatment, on eBay for $38. It came with four 4 oz bottles, which included the clarifying shampoo to use in Step 1, the Keratin Treatment for Step 2, and the sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner for aftercare. When the application process is complete, you cannot wash your hair for 3 full days. This time frame allows the keratin to sink into hair strands completely.
The actual Keratin treatment contains formaldehyde and argan oil, two very effective ingredients for straight, shiny hair. I don’t think any retail stores in the USA sell the keratin treatment with formaldehyde, so I would suggest looking online for suppliers. I found mine by typing "Moroccan Keratin Treatment" into eBay. There, you can browse different sizes and types.
Formaldehyde is a suspected carcinogen for humans, so products containing this ingredient should be used with extreme caution.
Does the Brazilian Keratin Treatment Need Formaldehyde to Work?
Not technically, but if it does have formaldehyde, it will last longer. Most Keratin Treatments that are sold in the US do not contain formaldehyde. Although high concentrations of the chemical are found in everything from pieces of furniture to window coverings and carpeting, the FDA has banned its use in hair products sold in stores.
If you buy a Keratin Treatment without formaldehyde, the results will only last 2–4 weeks. If you want longer-lasting results (2–3 months), order a Keratin Treatment online that does contain formaldehyde.
Supplies You Will Need to Apply Brazilian Keratin Treatment at Home
- Clarifying shampoo to remove debris and styling product from hair. This usually comes with the kit, but if not, just buy a clarifying shampoo at the drug store.
- 2–6 oz of Brazilian Keratin Treatment depending on length of hair. My hair is just below shoulder length, and very thick, so I used the about 2.5 ounces of solution. It's always better to have too much than too little. You can always use leftovers for your next treatment.
- A straightening iron that heats up to at least 400 degrees (preferably 450˚F) and is between 1" and 4" wide, depending on your personal preference. I used a 2" wide iron by Babyliss that heated up to 450˚F.
- A mask usually comes with the kit, but if not, just buy an anti-dust mask or surgeon's mask. They can be found at hardware stores near sandpaper/saws. Some fumes are released as you use the straight-iron on your hair, so this prevents you from breathing in too many chemicals.
- A blowdryer with both medium and high heat settings.
- Plastic gloves to protect your hands during the Keratin application.
- Butterfly clips to hold upper sections of hair in place while you straighten the under-layers.
- Plastic bowl (optional) to pour Keratin treatment into for ease of application.
- A wide-tooth comb to remove knots after shampooing and also to distribute the Keratin Treatment through your hair and remove excess.
- A snug shower cap (for the 3 days when you need to shower, but can't get hair wet).
How to Do a Brazilian Keratin Treatment at Home
Remember, beauty does not come easy! Get ready for a somewhat lengthy process—I have just below shoulder length hair and the entire event took me about two hours. Although, thinking of how many hours I've spent battling my hair in the last year (probably a total of about 300 hours!), 2 little hours pales in comparison. Also, after the treatment has been applied, you cannot wash your hair for 3 full days.
Before you begin, make sure you're comfortable and have enough time to complete the whole process without taking shortcuts. The treatment does produce some fumes as you straight-iron your hair, so make sure you apply it in a well-ventilated room, or outdoors. In this article, I'll walk you through the steps and what the hair looks like during every step of the process.
Step 1: Wash With Clarifying Shampoo
Scrub your hair using the clarifying shampoo. Remember, this is going to be the last time you will wash your hair for 3 days, so make it count! I lathered, rinsed, then repeated to make sure my hair was squeaky clean.
Clarifying shampoos typically remove every bit of product and residue from your hair, so after rinsing, your hair will actually sound squeaky when you rub it, and will probably be a tangled mess. DO NOT use any conditioner after you shampoo. You want the hair to be porous to absorb the keratin treatment.
To remove knots and tangles, gently use the wide-tooth comb to gradually separate and untangle hair. If you have a particularly stubborn knot, rub the center of it with your thumb and forefinger to loosen the hair, then gently un-knot using your fingers. Once all knots are removed, comb through one last time so that hair is smooth and tangle free.
TIP: For someone with especially long and/or curly hair, it might help to wash in sections. Use a giant butterfly clip to separate hair into 4 sections and shampoo/comb each section separately. If I had a problem with knots on shoulder-length hair, I can't imagine the problems that someone with long hair may encounter.
Step 2: Dry Hair Completely
Dry hair completely using a blowdryer set on high heat. Make sure hair is thoroughly dry before moving on to the next step.
I dried my hair for about 8 minutes, then sat around for another 10 minutes only to find that it wasn't completely dry. I went back in and dried it for 5 more minutes until there was no moisture left.
Step 3: Comb and Separate Hair
Comb hair with a wide-tooth comb, again removing all knots and tangles. Hair will probably be puffy and straw-like, but don't worry—that's all about to change!
Using large butterfly clips, separate your hair into 3 sections. Pin up both sides and most of the back, leaving the bottom section of hair hanging down.
Step 4: Apply Keratin Treatment
First, put on your plastic gloves! Empty the Keratin Treatment into a bowl and scoop out a small amount to apply to the sections of hair that are hanging down and not clipped up.
Apply the keratin to the upper middle part of each section, then distribute it downwards and upwards, until the entire section of hair is coated. Rake through the strands with your (gloved!) fingers to ensure that all hair in the section is thoroughly coated. I'd suggest using a small amount to start so you don't run out. You can always go back and re-coat the strands once your entire head of hair is coated if you have left-over product.
Note: You want the hair to be fully coated, but not sopping wet with the treatment. If you feel that you've applied too much product, comb through with the wide-tooth comb to remove any excess. Hair should be saturated with product, but not so wet that you see globs of the product on your strands.
Step 5: Dry Hair on Medium Heat
Completely dry the Keratin Treatment that you just placed in your hair. Using a hairdryer set to high speed, but medium heat, blow dry using either your hands or a vented brush to rake through and lift hair as you dry.
DO NOT flip your head upside-down to dry the under layers—the fumes will be too strong, seeing as how the hair will be flying into your face. If you are having trouble drying the under-layers, use a butterfly clip to secure the top sections of hair while you dry underneath. Once hair is COMPLETELY dry, wait 10–15 minutes before proceeding to the next step.
TIP: Now is a good time to turn on your straightening iron so it's pre-heated. Set the iron to 450 degrees. I would not go any lower than 400 degrees, because lower temperatures will not seal the Keratin Treatment onto your hair strands.
After waiting the 10–15 minutes, you will often find that patches of your Keratin-coated strands are not as dry as you thought they were, and you will need to go over it once more with your dryer set to medium until they dry completely. If you do not dry your hair completely, the next step of the treatment will not be as effective and you'll be left with wavy strands rather than straight ones.
At the end of this step, I was already amazed at how straight and shiny my hair looked, and I hadn't even straightened it yet!
Step 6: Use a Flatiron to Straighten Hair
Now you're finally ready to begin straightening! Comb your hair again, one last time to make sure there are no tangles or knots. Your hair will feel very dry, frizzy, and sticky from the Keratin.
Section hair into the large butterfly clips, the same way you did in Step 3. To start, you want just the very bottom layers to be hanging free. Make sure your iron is hot, and that the temperature setting is no lower than 400 degrees.
The actual straightening process is when strong-smelling fumes develop, so make sure you have windows/doors open for ventilation. I prefer to set up the mirror and straightening iron outside so I don't have to worry about fumes at all.
Starting with the front portions of hair that are hanging down, begin straightening in small sections (no bigger than 2 inches wide). Go over each section with the iron at least 5–7 times.
It helps to have access to a double-mirror so you can see the results on the back of your head. If you don't have one, just use a handheld mirror to look into while you stand facing away from your main mirror; this will allow you to view the back of your head and make sure everything is straight.
Continue this process (gradually releasing hair sections down from the butterfly clips) until your entire head of hair is straight. Be careful when straightening your bangs; when hair is released from the iron and falls against your forehead—ouch!
When straightening my bangs, I tilted my head all the way back before releasing from the iron. By using this method, the bangs will fall back onto the rest of your hair, rather than on your forehead.
Congratulations! You've Completed the BKT Process!
Now flop down on your sofa and grab a big glass of wine to celebrate your newly straightened hair (AND the fact that you didn't pay a beautician 300 bucks to do this for you!).
This is how your hair will look for the next 3 or 4 days. It will look kind of dull and waxy, but will be perfectly straight. If you can stand to go 4 days without shampooing, then by all means, do it, but never shampoo before the 3 days are up.
The natural oils in your hair cause the Keratin to settle deeply into the strand cuticle and this is what makes the treatment last. Wear a shower cap to prevent hair from getting wet during the 3 days. If hair should accidentally get wet, dry with a blowdryer and then re-straighten. You may also find that hair gets bent or wavy while you sleep. If this happens, just re-straighten those sections when you wake up.
Brazilian Keratin Treatment: Final Results
After the 3 or 4 days are up, you can wash your hair with any type of sulfate-free shampoo and use your regular conditioner. It will feel SO good to finally wash your hair! Even though I’ve done this treatment about 5 times over the last few years, I’m always amazed at how shiny and straight my hair is afterward.
For the 3 months the treatment is active in my hair, I only use half the amount of conditioner I used to need, and hardly any styling products. After blow-drying, I just spray with a fine mist of Dove Flexible Hold Hairspray to keep static down. Before the BKT treatment, it would take about 15 minutes to get my hair this straight and shiny, but now all I have to do is blow dry it. Brazilian Keratin Treatment drastically cuts down on styling time!
Brazilian Keratin Treatment DOs and DON'Ts
- DO color hair before (NOT after) using the Keratin Treatment. Color adheres much better to damaged, dry hair than it does to hair that has been sealed with Keratin. Your results will last longer if coloring is done at least a few days before the Keratin Treatment.
- DO complete this process in a well-ventilated room. Keep the bathroom door and window open, and/or use a fan that blows to the outside. Alternately, you can apply the Keratin outdoors.
- DO relax and take breaks if your arms get tired from all the straightening. There's no time limit, take as many breaks as you need in order to do a good job!
- DO be prepared for your hair to be stick-straight and drab looking for 3 days. After you shampoo, it will go back to it's lively, fluffy self.
- DO re-iron your hair every morning after waking up. Your hair gets bent into strange positions while you sleep, you don't want it to stay that way!
- DO dry and re-iron your hair if it gets wet from rain, showering or sweating during the 3 day period.
- DO remember to wear your mask when re-ironing your hair during the 3 day period. The fumes are still strong until the mixture is washed from your hair.
- DO allow at least 3 full days before washing your hair.
- DO enjoy your new head of silky-soft, STRAIGHT hair!
- DON'T do this a day or two before a special event! (The product leaves hair rather filmy and greasy until it can be washed 3 days after applying).
- DON'T take shortcuts or rush when ironing your hair. If you've gone over each section of hair 4 or 5 times, go over each one again an additional 3 times or more, even if your hair already looks really straight. This ensures the keratin seals onto hair.
- DON'T use a flat iron under 400 degrees. Keratin will not seal onto hair, and results will last less than a month.
- DON'T use any shampoo/conditioner/styling products that contain Sodium Chloride (Sulfates) as part of your after-care routine. Sulfates strip the hair shaft and will remove the Keratin.
Brazilian Keratin Aftercare Tips
- Try to wash your hair only every other day. The natural oils in your hair make the Keratin Treatment last longer. If you shampoo your hair every single day, the treatment will last around 2 months. However, if you shampoo every other day or less often, it should last 3 months.
- Avoid frequent visits to swimming pools. The chlorine removes the Keratin from your hair. Swimming occasionally is fine, but if you swim daily, wear a swim cap or the treatment won’t last longer than 1 month.
- Remember to use only sulfate-free shampoo. You’ll probably also need some new styling products . . . if you need to use any at all.
Pros and Cons to Doing Brazilian Keratin Treatment at Home
- Doing this yourself at home saves some big bucks.
- Smooth, shiny, silky hair that feels as though it was never touched by color, perms, bleach, or the elements. It's like having virgin hair again, and I can't help but run my fingers through it just to enjoy the fact that it's no longer a tangled mess.
- STRAIGHT hair that you won't have to battle with every morning! I can't even tell you how sick and tired I was of trying to tame my hair every single day. I had finally given up and decided to leave it wavy. It always looked somewhat out of control, because I was sick of frying it with the hot iron in the morning, only to be left with a semi-straight frizzy mess. This has completely fixed the problem. Now, I only need to go over a couple of out-of-place strands in the morning for a perfect, fast style.
- No frizz at all. And I do mean NO frizz! Immediately after drying with my blowdryer, my hair is silky-soft and frizz-free, with no need to apply gobs of styling products to create soft shining tresses.
- The fumes were a bit strong when I first started straightening, especially as I straightened the hair closest to my face. My nose felt like it was burning inside and my eyes watered a little bit. This passed after a couple of minutes, but if it's too strong for you, take intermittent breaks when straightening the hair near your face and keep your head tilted back as you straighten. This will cause the fumes to go backward, rather than forwards towards your face.
- Some sections of my hair are still a little bit wavy. However, I think this is largely due to human error, and not to defective product quality. I should have ironed the more stubborn wavy parts of my hair a few more times.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
How long after putting on the Keratin treatment can we start blow-drying our hair?
You can dry your hair immediately after applying the treatment - there's no need to wait a specified amount of time.Helpful 63
© 2014 Ashley Bergin