What is the Difference Between Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde-Free Keratin Hair Treatment?


What is Formaldehyde and What Does it Do to Keratin Hair Treatments?

If you are a fan of hair relaxing treatments, you are probably familiar with the name formaldehyde. But do you know what formaldehyde is and why it is used in some keratin hair treatments? And, more importantly, do you know the difference between formaldehyde and formaldehyde-free keratin hair treatments? In this article, we'll explain everything you need to know to make an informed decision about which treatment is best for you.

What is formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a strong, pungent smell. It is used in many industries, including the manufacturing of resins, plastics, textiles, and paper products, as well as in the preservation of biological specimens. Formaldehyde is also used in some hair treatments, where its purpose is to bond the keratin in the hair, making it smoother and easier to manage.

Why is formaldehyde used in keratin hair treatments?

The use of formaldehyde in keratin hair treatments originally became popular under the name Brazilian Blowout, and it was touted as a way to completely straighten curly and frizzy hair. Formaldehyde is effective in achieving this, as it chemically alters the hair's structure, breaking and reforming the bonds between the keratin molecules in the hair shaft. This results in hair that is smoother, shinier, and easier to manage. However, it also posed a serious health risk to anyone who used it or was exposed to it, including hair stylists.

Formaldehyde-free keratin treatments

As concerns about the health risks of formaldehyde grew, many hair product manufacturers began developing alternatives to formaldehyde-based keratin treatments. Formaldehyde-free treatments bond the keratin in the hair using other chemicals, such as glyoxylic acid or cysteine. These alternative chemicals work in a similar way to formaldehyde, but without the associated risks.

Making the choice between formaldehyde and formaldehyde-free keratin treatments

If you are considering a keratin hair treatment, it is important to understand that there are options available that do not contain formaldehyde. It is recommended that you choose a formaldehyde-free treatment, not only for your own safety but also for the safety of your hair stylist. Formaldehyde can become airborne when heated, posing a significant health risk to anyone in the salon where it is being used. Formaldehyde-free treatments are a safer and more responsible choice for everyone.

What to expect from a formaldehyde-free keratin hair treatment

Just like formaldehyde-based treatments, formaldehyde-free keratin treatments aim to make hair smoother, shinier, and easier to manage. They work by bonding the keratin in the hair, reducing frizz and making hair more manageable. However, they will not completely straighten curly or frizzy hair. Rather, the goal is to achieve a more natural and manageable look. The results of a formaldehyde-free keratin treatment will last for several weeks, after which the treatment will need to be repeated.


Choosing a hair relaxing treatment is an important decision, and it is important to understand the key differences between formaldehyde and formaldehyde-free keratin hair treatments. By choosing a formaldehyde-free treatment, you can achieve the same smooth and manageable hair without putting yourself or others at risk. When making your choice, be sure to speak with your stylist and ask for more information about the products they use.


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