Sunday, February 20, 2011

Brazilian Keratin Treatments (BKT) - A Cautionary Tale

Recently I had the pleasure of chatting with one of the followers of this blog after she friended me on facebook. Her name is Lalex and she hails from France. She mentioned that she had tried the BKT and that it was a mistake for her so I asked her to share some of her experience as I have so many friends who have or are considering this treatment and I know there are many other naturalistas wrestling with this decision as well.

BKT is often touted as the perfect solution for naturals who want to wear their hair straight for a while as once you apply it, it cuts blowdrying and straightening time significantly. It also reduces frizz if you decide to rock the BKT without straightening but your curl pattern will be more relaxed than pre-BKT. Makers of BKT  claim that the effect of the treatment will eventually wear off and you won't permanently lose your natural curl pattern. This was not Lalex's experience. I'll let the pictures do the talking. 

On August 15th 2010, Lalex went to a hairdresser to get the BKT done.

Lalex's dry hair pre-BKT

pre - BKT her hair wet
After getting the BKT done. The hairdresser clarified her hair twice, semi- blowdried it, applied the Brazilian Keratin, completed the blow dry process then flat ironed at 360 degree

After getting the BKT done, Lalex was pleased, "my hair was shiny, soft, it looked very healthy... and straight. It took 5 min to flat iron my hair (against 1hour [before] the [BKT])". She had to avoid water, rain and steam for a week after getting the treatment. After that first week she shampooed (SLS free) her hair and straightened it everyday for the rest of that month with no product (approximately 5min/day to refresh the style). After the first month she didn't straighten her hair but it was still relatively straight and shiny even without flat ironing it. The BKT lasted three months and cost 140 euros (~US$190). 

Fast forward to February 14th 2011. While Lalex expected her hair would revert to her texture pre-BKT, 6 months later this hasn't happened. While some of her hair has reverted to curly, about a third of it has remained straightened or a looser curl pattern than she had before, mainly concentrated at the top/front of her head.

6 months post BKT

6 months post BKT - front 1/3 of her hair is still straight
2/3 of her hair has reverted to her pre-BKT texture
camouflaging the multiple textures
Right now she is growing out her hair and trying to maintain a healthy curly style and vows never to do BKT again. 

The important take away message here is if you want to do straight hair and don't care about retaining your natural curl pattern, this treatment will be useful to you. One caution is to be aware that most brands use formaldehyde or one of its derivatives and that these compounds are carcinogenic. Even brands that claim to be "formaldehyde free" have these compounds in them as they can legally claim to be formaldehyde free if they have a formaldehyde derivative in them, other related aldehydes such as gluteraldehyde or chemicals that react to form formaldehyde. They can also claim to be "formaldehyde free" if they have a formaldehyde concentration of 0.05% or less

If, however, you love your natural hair texture, you might want to think twice before you choose to do this as you aren't guaranteed to have your curls come back after you quit the treatment. 

I hope this was helpful to some folks. Thanks so much again Lalex for being so kind to let me share your story. If you have more questions about BKT or Lalex's experience feel free to send her a message via facebook (Lalex Malou) or you can email me further questions at If you would like to share your own BKT experience feel free to send me a message or leave a comment.


  1. This honestly sounds like heat damage. She did flat iron her hair everyday for a month with no heat protectant

  2. This was my first inclination as well but when I asked her about it she said she doesn't think so because she used quick passes (literally less than 5 minutes on her entire head). But I would advise that you use a heat protectant anytime you put heat on your hair because that is what I do myself. Thanks for reading and commenting!