The Hair-Straightening Treatment That Won't Ruin Your Hair

Photo: MCV Photo.
In my ever-growing list of semi-permanent beauty obsessions, keratin treatments are the least permanent (ironically) of recurring service appointments. Just to give you an idea, I get lash extensions at Courtney Akai every five weeks and gel manicures at least once a month. Touchups of my Browhaus Brow Resurrection and Lip Define treatments have kept me partially made up sans makeup for years.
If only my hair — my naturally unruly, curly hair — could be so easy. My experience with keratin treatments has ranged from barely effective to flat-out failure, so it was with trepidation that I approached the Cezanne Perfect Finish Keratin Smoothing Treatment (prices vary; starts around $350). Dana Tizzio of Butterfly Studio in New York City did the honors.
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I make sure that any stylist who touches my head knows this one fact of life: My hair is my thing. In fact, it's so much my thing that I take three supplements daily ensuring its increasing length and health. But, that hasn't prevented me from being burned in the past.
First, I tested out La Brasiliana, a formaldehyde-infused keratin treatment that left my locks Axl-Rose limp for about a month. No amount of mousse could amp up my overcooked-spaghetti texture, and creating waves even with a curling iron set on the highest heat was an exercise in futility.
A couple years later, I cautiously tried a Keratin Complex Express Blowout at Ryan Darius Salon, performed by Ryan Nickulas, who heard my plea about not wanting to win a Sissy Spacek-circa-Carrie-lookalike contest. He applied the treatment partially, so as to ensure a touch of volume without sacrificing smoothness. The results looked phenomenal: sleek, smooth, and able to be curled and waved to my heart’s desire. But, despite my commitment to no-salt/no-sulfate shampoos, it washed out entirely within a month. It had the shelf life of a Tinder relationship.
Photo: MCV Photo.
So, imagine my surprise when I was actually impressed by Cezanne. It’s a formaldehyde-free salon service, and it reportedly employs a different active ingredient than the other guys. “Sericin," says Tizzio. "It's produced by a silkworm and wraps around each hair strand to smooth it, which is what makes this a game-changer. Basically, it wraps around each strand to penetrate into the hair, as opposed to other treatments, which just lay flat on the strand.”
A month into my Cezanne, which withstood two weeks in steamy Thailand, including multiple pool and ocean dips, my hair is still utterly low-maintenance. It has gotten to the point where it feels as if someone else’s hair is growing on my head (in a good way). Plus, the texture is a mixture of curly and wavy, so it's not at all limp.
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But, this is also a lifestyle change. For, as fastidious as I am with my treatments and routines, wrestling with a curling wand for 20 minutes is not on my ideal to-do list. Now, my hair takes me five minutes to style. For daily maintenance, I just casually direct a blowdryer at it and rough-dry the entire thing using my fingers, and then smooth out the front with a round brush for a perfect coif.
The only downside has been that my usual Texas levels of volume have been taken down a notch — but just barely. I’d say my hair has 20% less oomph; a small price to pay for smooth locks straight out of shower.
If you, unlike me, are interested in not compromising your curl pattern, Tizzio insists that Cezanne could work for you. “[It] will soften and loosen the curl, but will not change the pattern to make your texture pin-straight. It will also take most of the frizz out,” she explains. “Alternatively, if you have straight hair that's prone to frizz, this will smooth [it], and make it easier and faster to style at home.”
If you use the right sulfate-free hair care and avoid washing daily, Cezanne can last up to three months, wearing out gradually. (Mine is doing quite nicely.) To extend the results of the treatment, Tizzio recommends the new Kérastase Fluidealiste products. Or, you could just stick to the Cezanne product line, which boasts a complete styling range to ensure proper maintenance after treatment. “We also recommend the treatment on the same day of your color service, as you can wash and style it right after,” says Tizzio.
Now, go forth and revel in your air-dried waves with wild abandon. Your easier morning routine awaits.
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