If your natural hair runs on the frizzy, can’t-be-tamed side of the spectrum and you can’t be bothered straightening and styling day in and day out, you might have done a little digging into the big wide world of keratin treatments. First, there are in-salon options. And while they’re highly effective, they can cost up to $300 or more and take up a big chunk of time (think: three to six hours). Then there are at-home keratin treatments, which can offer similar smoothing and straightening benefits at a fraction of the price and without many of the harsh chemicals (looking at you, formaldehyde).
But—and this is a big one—it’s important to do your research, which is why we've turned to trichologist Dr. Penny James and hair chemist and medical researcher Alexandra Arriaga. As Arriaga says: “Not all at-home keratin treatments are created equal." It’s important to avoid certain chemicals and familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of each kind of keratin treatment. That said, while it’s likely that you’re going to get more foolproof, longer-lasting results from a salon keratin treatment, at-home keratin treatments can be worthwhile, budget-friendly alternatives.
Best Deals on At-Home Keratin Treatments
Keratin Research Complex Brazilian Keratin Hair Blowout Treatment,
$50 $40 at Amazon
Think of this duo as an express two-step keratin treatment. First you'll shampoo with the sulfate-free formula, then you'll get to work painting your hair with the hydrolyzed keratin straightening formula. The set promises a straight and shiny texture for up to six months—minus the money and wait time.
Keratin Complex Keratin Replenisher,
$37 $27 at Amazon
Hydrolyzed keratin is the second ingredient in this effective leave-in cream that also contains strengthening proteins (soy, wheat) and really will minimize the amount of time you spend wielding a hair dryer—and extend the number of days before you need to do it again. Unlike more intense, heat-activated treatments, I believe this simple blow dry cream can be used on repeat and will take all of two seconds out of your day.
It's a 10 Haircare Miracle Leave-In Plus Keratin,
$21 $17 at Amazon
If the mere thought of detangling gives you anxiety, relieve yourself by reaching for this miracle worker of a styling spray, which is infused by hydrolyzed keratin. The brand is best known for its strengthening products to make your hair feel more manageable. Afterwards, you'll be able to easily glide your wide tooth comb through your hair without the stress of that strenuous arm workout
Hers Rapid Repair Hair Mask,
$15 $11 at Amazon
Give your hair a boost with this deep-conditioning hair mask. The keratin will go to work smoothing your strands while ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and jojoba seed oil will condition, so you’ll be left with a frizz-free, shiny mane.
OGX Anti-Breakage + Keratin Oil Fortifying Anti-Frizz Conditioner,
$9 $7 at Amazon
Welcome this conditioner into your regime, and you can wave goodbye to frizz, split ends, and fragile strands. Keratin and argan oil come together to repair and strengthen your hair. It has a stamp of approval from Beauty Director Deena Campbell and is on sale for $6 right now.
Chi Keratin Silk Infusion,
$34 $22 at Amazon
"The main allure of this product is that not only are you going to see a noticeable difference after just one use, but the technology works to prevent any additional breakage," says Campbell. Once hair is straightened, it's impossible to deny that didn't add some silky shine.
An Overview of the Best At-Home Keratin Treatments
- Best Overall At-Home Keratin Treatment: Gussi Hair At-Home Keratin Treatment Kit
- Most Reparative At-Home Keratin Treatment: K18 Leave-In Repair Hair Mask Treatment
- Most Nourishing At-Home Keratin Treatment: Davines Nourishing Keratin Sealer
- Best Everyday At-Home Keratin Treatment: OGX Anti-Breakage + Keratin Oil Conditioner
- Best Frizz-Fighting At-Home Keratin Treatment: Nutree Amazonliss Keratin Smoothing Treatment
What to Look For in a Keratin Treatment
- Avoid Formaldehyde: Finding the best at-home keratin treatment is less about what you should see and more about what you shouldn’t see on the label. The big chemical to avoid is a carcinogen called formaldehyde, “a colorless, strong-smelling gas that presents a health hazard when breathed into the lungs, gets into the eyes, or touches the skin,” says Arriaga. According to the National Cancer Institute, when formaldehyde reaches a certain concentration in the air (0.1 ppm to be exact), you may experience watery eyes, burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat, coughing, wheezing, nausea, and skin irritation. Looking for labels like “No Formaldehyde” or “Formaldehyde Free” on your at-home keratin bottle is a good start, but you’re going to want to do some extra digging. “Many keratin treatments, both professional and at-home options, contain the liquid form of formaldehyde, which is called methylene glycol,” explains Arriaga. “To identify products containing formaldehyde-related ingredients, look for the following words on the label: Formaldehyde, formalin, and methylene glycol.”
What’s the Difference Between an At-Home Keratin Treatment and a Salon Keratin Treatment?
At base level, keratin is a protein found in the hair. The more keratin you have, the smoother, glossier, and shinier your hair will be—it fills the frizz-causing holes in the hair cuticle. That said, not every keratin treatment is created equal. In a salon, you can expect more dramatic, longer-lasting results—an in-salon keratin treatment can take curly, coily hair to a straighter state that lasts for weeks or more. At-home treatments, which can take the form of conditioners, shampoos, masks, or, occasionally, salon-mimicking systems, can work wonders for frizz, but won’t necessarily last through dozens of shampoos or change your natural texture. The results will also differ across hair types.
How Do Keratin Treatments Work?
When you go to a salon or purchase a profession-grade at-home kit, the hair is typically straightened with a solution containing glyoxylic acid or formaldehyde, explains Arriaga. “When some of these solutions are applied on the hair, the bonds inside each strand are broken and resealed in a straighter position.” Trichologist Dr. James adds that a minimum of 450 degrees is needed to seal the deal (pun very much intended) and “glue” the cuticle back together.
Meanwhile, keratin-infused solutions and products “work by coating each individual strand to smooth down the hair cuticles and give a glossy, frizz-free finish," says Dr. James. "This coating wears off over time, however."
How We Chose The Best At-Home Keratin Treatments
The products on this list have either been vetted by Marie Claire's Beauty Editor Samantha Holender (a.k.a. yours truly) and Marie Claire's Beauty Director Deena Campbell or have been hand-selected by a hair expert. Each and every one is also highly rated by reviewers. While the *best* keratin treatment for you will vary based on hair type and personal preference, you truly can't go wrong with one of the items on this list. For a more personalized recommendation, or if you have any concerns, check in with your hairstylist.
The Best At-Home Keratin Treatments
Overall Best Keratin Treatment
Alon Shalom, owner of Alon Shalom Salon in West Hollywood, California, is obsessed with Gussi's results. "One of my long-time clients recently came in for her balayage and I was blown away by the restored health of her hair—it was so much stronger and shinier than usual," he says. "I was totally shocked when she told me this was all from Gussi’s At-home Keratin Treatment! After checking out Gussi, I’m even more impressed that this is a clean, non-toxic formula delivering these impressive results." The kit promises results lasting a grand total of six weeks and works across all hair types. That said, it's not going to remove curls—it'll just elongate the curl pattern.
Pros: Long lasting; Mimics salon results; Fast acting
Cons: Only lasts six weeks; Won't permanently straighten
Customer Review: "I really enjoyed using this product. The smell was a little strong but its nice to know theres no icky chemicals like traditional treatments. My hair was so silky and smooth literally right after the treatment. I couldnt stop touching my hair! I haven't seen it this strong, healthy and shiny in a LONG time!" — Gussi Hair
Best Softening At-Home Keratin Treatment
Clear your schedule, then get ready for one of the most effective at-home treatments available. Start with clean hair, then use the included application brush to (rather painstakingly) smooth the cream from root to tip on 1/2" sections of hair. Wait up to an hour, depending on your hair texture. Then blow dry and flat-iron. "I love that the proprietary juvexin, a keratin-based protein blend, will keep your hair smooth for three to five months," says Campbell. You can shop one bottle on its own or shop multiples on Amazon.
Pros: Lasts three to five months; Mimics salon results; Cruelty free
Cons: Takes one hour to activate; Requires precise application
Customer Review: "Ive had the keratin treatment done in hair salons, I just wanted to be able to do this from home because it is cheaper. I absolutely love this product. Its a life changer. I left the treatment on for 60 minutes because I have thick, coarse, frizzy curly hair. Only took a little under 3 hours total for me. I'm hoping this will last me 6-9 weeks. 10/10 recommend!" — GK Hair
Fastest Acting At-Home Keratin Treatment
Think of this duo as an express two-step keratin treatment. First you'll shampoo with the sulfate-free formula then you'll get to work painting your hair with the hydrolyzed keratin straightening formula. The set promises a straight and shiny texture for up to six months—minus the money and wait time. "While the benefits are numerous (no more heat styling! less frizz! sleeker style!), we do want to call out that this is a chemical solution that might fume and make your eyes water when you activate the treatment with heat," says Campbell.
Pros: Lasts four to six months; Affordable; Can shower directly after
Cons: Only works on 1A to 3A hair types; Fumes when straightening
Customer Review: "It is very very good! Totally worth it! I did it by myself and I am sure if someone else can do it for you will be better. I also recommend to buy gloves! They don't send it and I did without them and my hand got wrinkled." — Keratin Research
Longest Lasting At-Home Keratin Treatment
If you're determined to hold on to frizz-free hair for up to four months, try this three-step system. This treatment is comprised of strengthening ingredients like acai, cocoa extracts, and shea butter for added hydration and shine. Consumers have given this system great reviews. The consensus? It reduces frizz, leaves hair shinier and more manageable, and provides pretty true-to-description results. On the downside, many people have found that it doesn't truly straighten hair, can have a subtle over once heat activated, and has a multi-step application process that requires careful attention to detail.
Pros: No fumes; Last four months; Combats Frizz
Cons: Time consuming to apply; Slight odor; Confusing instructions
Customer Review: "My hair feels soft and smooth. When I was putting it on, there were no fumes or bad smells. I really do recommend it." — Nutree Professional
Best At-Home Keratin System
The name on the bottle says it all: Keratin and silk work together in this single product to strengthen damaged hair cuticles from the inside out, resulting in long-lasting and glossy strands. "The main allure of this product is that not only are you going to see a noticeable difference after just one use, but the technology works to prevent any additional breakage," says Campbell. Once your hair is straightened, it's impossible to deny that didn't add some silky shine.
Pros: Long lasting; Hydrating
Cons: Time-consuming to apply; Strong Fumes
Customer Review: "Worked great! Was surprised cause I have very thick kinky curly hair. and now my hair is so soft, smooth and shiny." — Moroccan Keratin
The Best Keratin-Infused Hair Products
Best At-Home Keratin Treatment Spray
If the mere thought of detangling gives you anxiety, relieve yourself by reaching for this miracle worker of a styling spray, which is infused by hydrolyzed keratin. The brand is best known for its strengthening products to make your hair feel more manageable. Afterwards, you'll be able to easily glide your wide tooth comb through your hair without the stress of that strenuous arm workout. "It's the only product you'll need in your routine," says Campbell. "In addition to its strengthening and smoothing powers, it also offers heat protection from your hot tools."
Pros: Detangles; Protects from heat damage
Customer Review: "This product is amazing ! The best heat protectant / leave in conditioner I've ever used. If you have thin hair, just use a little bit and you'll be fine :) as it does tend to make your hair a bit greasy if you over apply." —Ulta Beauty
Best Silk-Based At-Home Keratin Treatment
The name says it all: Keratin and silk work together in this product to strengthen damaged hair cuticles from the inside out, resulting in long-lasting glossy strands. "The main allure of this product is that not only are you going to see a noticeable difference after just one use, but the technology works to prevent any additional breakage," says Campbell. Once hair is straightened, it's impossible to deny that didn't add some silky shine.
Pros: Unscented; Adds strength and silkiness
Cons: Can weigh down fine hair
Customer Review: "I'm dealing with damaged hair causing by stying and heat, and was looking for something to help strenghten and protect it. After only a few times of using it my hair feels softer and more nourished, and it's so shiny and it doesn't feel heavy from the oils in the product. It doesen't feel sticky either, just soft and moisturized. I'm so glad I found this product." — CHI
Best Reparative At-Home Keratin Treatment
The second I asked Instagram about leave-in keratin treatments, this one from K18 was one of the most popular responses—and it's not hard to see why. Creating hair "that feels like new" is one of its key claims. It boasts a vegan, color-safe formula that quite literally seals up damaged hair cuticles over a few treatments. While this will boost shine and does have frizz-fighting properties commonly associated with professional keratin treatments, it doesn't create naturally straight hair. Those with curly hair will still have curly hair after this treatment—it'll just feel smoother, softer, and healthier.
Pros: Repairs damage; Restores Shine; Leave-In Treatment
Cons: Might weigh down fine hair; Won't change hair texture
Customer Review: "This is the only hair mask i've tried that shows results right after the first use. My hair looks significantly healthier with less frizz after using it." —Sephora
Most Nourishing At-Home Keratin Treatment
This top-rated oil works to repair the hair cuticle from the inside out. When the cuticle is sealed up tight, water doesn't sneak in and frizz is avoided. Sounds pretty good, huh? Alas, it gets better. "A few sprays on damp hair makes combing a breeze, reduces the appearance of split ends, and gives an unmatched shine once the hair is blow dried or styled," says Campbell. "As is true with all Davines products, the smell can't be beat. This treatment features a natural, earthy scent."
Pros: Boosts shine; Repairs hair over time
Cons: Doesn't make hair straighter; Doesn't include heat protection
Customer Review: "Very lovely smell and works wonderful, makes my hair look more nourished and healthier." — Davines
Best At-Home Keratin Treatment for Frizz Repair
Hydrolyzed keratin is the second ingredient in this effective leave-in cream that also contains strengthening proteins (soy, wheat) and really will minimize the amount of time you spend wielding a hair dryer—and extend the number of days before you need to do it again. Unlike more intense, heat-activated treatments, I believe this simple blow dry cream can be used on repeat and will take all of two seconds out of your day. It's not going to break down your hair's bonds for jaw-on-the-floor straightening results, but it will give you smoother, shinier hair every damn time.
Pros: Boosts hydration; Fights Frizz; Lightweight
Cons: Short-term results; Minimal difference on curly and coily hair
Customer Review: "I bought this product because the winter humidity was making my hair frizzy and curly as soon as I would walk out the door. I very small amount of this product after I blow dry and before I flat iron has made a world of difference. My hair is smooth and shiny and feels great. I will definitely purchase this again." —Ulta Beauty
Best Classic At-Home Keratin Treatment
Hair that's super shiny and smooth? Sign me up, please! This treatment literally has "deep-penetrating" in the name, so you know it's good. It's designed for chemically and color-treated hair, which is huge consider keratin products can have an impact on hair dye and overall tone. "This is a five-minute leave-in treatment that you should once a week for the best results," says Campbell. "That said, people with thicker hair might be able to get away using it a couple times a week."
Pros: Color-safe; Shine-boosting; Affordable
Cons: Doesn't do much for split ends
Customer Review: "I like this treatment a lot. I get keratin treatments on my hair and when I'm near the end of a period, when it's almost time for another one, this treatment helps push me through until I have time to do it. It helps replenish and smooth my hair beautifully!" — Rusk
Best At-Home Keratin Treatment for Quick Repair
This intensive treatment is formulated with KeraTriplex and awapuhi extract to restore damage, leaving you with your most moisturized, soft and shiny hair yet. Plus, I was addicted to the invigorating scent of ginger tea and florals. While it can work wonders on the shine front, you'll probably want to find an everyday treatment to help control frizz. This mask is only designed to be used once per week.
Pros: Hydrating; Restores shine; Color safe
Cons: Not the best option for frizzy hair
Customer Review: "The gold standard in what intensive treatment should be. Smells amazing, deeply hydrating and repairing, and leaves my hair rehabilitated when very stressed." —Ulta Beauty
Best Hydrating At-Home Keratin Treatment
Sometimes, our hair is in need of just a solid reboot due to climate change and heavy-duty styling, which is where this healing hair mask comes in. The keratin works as a building block for the hair bond and the antioxidant, resveratrol, has restorative powers that brings dry and brittle strands back to life. "Even though it's deeply hydrating and has an oil base, this products isn't too heavy," says Campbell. "In fact, it even adds a little bounce and body to hair."
Pros: Volumizing; Strengthening
Cons: Very fragrant; Can be drying
Customer Review: "My hair is coarse and over-bleached and always feels kinda blah, even after I leave the salon. I finally had some time to leave this in my hair for 20 mins and my hair feels so soft and bouncy, like it's got life back! The smell is amazing, too! I kinda wished they had a body lotion in this scent. Really love this stuff!" —Ulta Beauty
Best Conditioning At-Home Keratin Treatment
Give your hair a boost with this deep conditioning hair mask. The keratin will go to work smoothing your strands while ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and jojoba seed oil will condition, so you’ll be left with a frizz-free, shiny mane. That said, it should be used in tandem with other hydrating haircare products, as this is a once-weekly treatment. "To apply, just shampoo, rinse, and let the mask do its job for up to 10 minutes," says Campbell
Pros: Vegan; Easy to apply
Cons: Not hydrating enough for some
Customer Review: "My hair is naturally wavy and requires a lot of moisture in curly days, but when I want to do a blow out this line is great to create that fullness! And this mask really helps with moisture and I like the smell of it a lot better than the shampoo and conditioner." —Ulta Beauty
The Best At-Home Keratin Conditioner
Welcome this conditioner into your regime, and you can wave goodbye to frizz, split ends, and fragile strands. Keratin and argan oil come together to repair and strengthen your hair. "The best part about this product is that it adds absolutely nothing extra into your routine," says Campbell. "You can use every day, without weighing down your hair, and will see more impactful results over time." Plus, the smell is amazing.
Pros: Good for daily use, Repairs split ends
Cons: Not great for color-treated hair
Customer Review: "This conditioner does great keeping the frizz down. For people with very fine, curly hair like mine it does weigh it down them little bit. However, this does not leave excess buildup of product on my scalp or feel greasy in any way. Love it!" —Ulta Beauty
The Best Volumizing At-Home Keratin Treatment
This spray's keratin amino complex nourishes, strengthens, and protects your strands while adding volume. "I’ll give your hair a lift and make it thicker and fuller—even if you're dealing with a thin, fine texture," says Campbell. Reviewers are obsessed with this product's ability to fight frizz and applaud it for its lightweight texture, however some note it has a sticky texture and can dry out the hair.
Pros: Frizz-fighting; Volumizing
Cons: Sticky; Drying
Customer Review: "Lift and Repair Treatment Spray is really a wonderful product. It is so easy to use—just spray it on your hair after shampooing. Once your hair dries you will notice how much fuller it looks! Great product!" —Ulta Beauty
How to Prep for a Keratin Treatment
As tempting as it may be, don’t just go straight into treatment mode. The preparation is just as important. “The pre-treatment will be shampooing your hair with a sulfate-free shampoo,” says Dr. James. Arriaga also recommends getting your hair colored ahead of your treatment. “Keratin will help preserve the color,” she adds. Just give yourself a few days or weeks of buffer time.
What to Do After a Keratin Treatment
After you finish your at-home treatment, there are a few key things to avoid, like getting your hair wet or direct sun exposure. “Even keratin treatments that claim you can wash your hair immediately benefit from waiting at least 24 hours," says Alexandra Efstratiou, a New York-based stylist. “It just gives the hair and product time to settle in together.”
How to Make at At-Home Keratin Treatment Last
If you used a simple keratin treatment product that's not heat-activated, your results will probably last until your next shampoo. Sometimes, your hair will even become naturally silkier and smoother with continued use.
If you used a more intense at-home treatment that's designed to last for months, such as the Gussi option, Efstratiou says that “the longevity of a keratin is primarily based on your frequency of washing, so the less often you can do the better.”
Better yet, stylists also recommend using hair styling products that have keratin in them (so basically all of the above) to keep your treatment looking fresh. “I like to recommend using keratin-infused products on days you do wash and style your hair,” says Shalom. “Extra doses of keratin help to refresh the treatment results.”
Are At-Home Keratin Treatments Safe?
If you're using a keratin-infused product—you're good to go. Have fun! Shampoo and style away! If you're using a true at-home keratin system, it's worthwhile to exercise a little extra caution. The biggest thing to be wary of is formaldehyde, which may be printed on the label as formalin or methylene glycol. “Many keratin treatments, both professional and at-home options, contain the liquid form of formaldehyde, which is called methylene glycol,” explains Arriaga. You *really* want a formaldehyde-free product to protect your eyes and overall health. According to the CDC, "exposure to formaldehyde can irritate the skin, throat, lungs, and eyes," while "repeated exposure to formaldehyde can possibly lead to cancer."
Meet the Experts
Alexandra Arriaga is a chemist, Public Health practitioner, medical researcher and haircare influencer. Besides working as a scientist, she currently uses her knowledge and background to bust myths related to products and beauty practices on social media. She’s an advocate for using science to to optimize your beauty routine.
A board-certified Trichologist, Penny James works with anyone who is suffering from hair loss and scalp problems. She has over 20 years of work experience in the industry and has collaborated with celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Sarah Jessica Parker, Megan Hilty, Sting, Trudy Styler, and Lorraine Bracco. She began her career in London working for Trevor Sorbie, then moved to New York and became a founding stylist for Frédéric Fekkai.
Alex Efstratiou is a hair stylist and colorist in New York City. Hailing from the Hudson Valley, after graduating from hair school she quickly found herself in Soho immersed in an intensive apprenticeship at Arrojo. After many years of traveling the country as a sought out haircutting educator, she decided to shift her focus and incorporate hair coloring into her salon repertoire. With over 14 years in the industry, she is known for her dynamic haircutting skills and sun-kissed hair colors.
After a very successful career in Tel Aviv, Israel as the top hair stylist with an A list clientele including celebrities, models, and singers Alon decided to make his move to the city of Angels and take his artistry to the next level. Immediately he drew a high end clientele and connected with the best agencies in town including Ford, LA Models, Wilhelmina as well as CAA and William Morris Endeavor. Through out his eleven year span in Los Angeles Alon has collaborated with the industry's leading celebrities and models to create memorable looks and set trends in both entertainment and fashion. These names include Heidi Klum, Courtney Love, Melissa George, Ellen Barkin, and Kyle McLaughlin to name a few.
Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and keeps up with the latest trends in the beauty space. She has previously written for Us Weekly, Popsugar, Makeup.com, Skincare.com, and Philadelphia Wedding. Follow her on Instagram @samholender.
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