Keratin Treatments: At Home vs. In the Salon

So, you’ve decided to give keratin treatments a try. You’ve gotten fed up with chemical straightener, hot irons, and the like, and want to do something real nice for your hair for once. Good choice! Okay, now you’ve got another choice – do you go to the salon, or do you just do it at home?

Both options are great ones – and there are pros and cons to each one, as well as things you should know before making an informed decision. Let’s go through the basics of each option, their effectiveness, and facts you need to be aware of regarding salon treatments vs. at home treatments.

Salon Keratin Treatments

Cost: High

Effectiveness: Moderate-High, depending on your hair type

Difficulty: Low

The pros of getting a salon keratin treatment are pretty clear – just think about why you would get your hair colored or cut in a salon, and you’ve got some pretty solid reasons right there. Difficulty involved in the process is non-existant – you can just sit back, relax, and let them do the work. Since stylists (hopefully) know what they’re doing, the process will be pretty quick and painless, as well as fully effective.

However, getting to a salon can be inconvenient if you’re busy, and the cost of a salon keratin treatment can be very high, anywhere from 100-300$, plus your chosen tip. This sometimes can discourage you from getting a keratin treatment in the first place, but read on if this is a concern for you.

Some things to ask your stylist: 

If you do decide to go for an in-salon treatment, there are two things you should ask: 1. what product they use and 2. what the results are going to be for your specific hair type.

Check out the product they say they use online, and take a look at the ingredients. It should be formaldehyde free at the very least, and also not emit any formaldehyde during the heating process. The products that have nothing to hide will usually list their OSHA test results to prove that their product is safe.

Keratin works differently on every hair type, and it is also progressive. If you have really dry, damaged, frizzy curly hair, the likelihood your hair will be stick straight at the end of the process is lower than someone with fine, wavy hair. Keratin rebuilds your damaged hair, and as a result your hair is straighter, smoother, and more manageable. You may not see perfect results after your first treatment – but after several treatments, your hair will become naturally stronger and healthier – thus, easier to manage and straighter. Your stylist should explain this to you so you know what you’re paying for.

At Home Keratin Treatments

Cost: Low-Moderate

Effectiveness: Moderate-High, depending on your hair type and product choice

Difficulty: Moderate

The biggest reason people turn to an at home keratin treatment is the cost – at home treatments range from 50-100$, which is less than the price you will probably end up tipping your stylist for a salon treatment. Also, a lot of us just prefer to do our own hair, because we know our own hair best. An at home treatment allows you to do your treatment on your own time, and many products are just as effective as the salon treatments because a lot of brands produce similar formulas for an at-home kit as they would for a salon product.

Just like dying or cutting your own hair, doing your own keratin treatment is not for everyone. It does take a little bit of patience, and you need to pay close attention to learning the process directed by that specific product, even if you’ve seen a keratin treatment done before.

Things you should know:

Doing your own keratin treatment means being up to date on what makes a good keratin formula and what your expected results will be from each product.

Do your research to find the right at home treatment. You want a salon quality experience with the same process as a salon treatment – so skip the keratin sprays, shampoos, and conditioners, which will be expensive yet only give you temporary results. A good home keratin treatment will include a couple products – at the very least, a separate cleanser and keratin product. Many kits will also include combs, shampoos, conditioners, etc. to make the process easier and more effective. It is definitely recommended you get the shampoo and conditioner that compliment the kit you choose – but make sure it is salt and sulfate free to extend the life of your keratin treatment.

Also, formula is important. Just like if you were getting a salon treatment, look for a brand that has a formaldehyde-free product. Don’t hesitate to call a company to find out about their chosen ingredients.

A good at home keratin treatment should give you similar results as a salon treatment, but as mentioned before, your hair type will affect this, so does the progressive nature of keratin treatments. Different products will be applied differently, feel differently, and even smell differently – so read up carefully so you know what to expect. While some treatments feel wet and heavy after application, others have more of a waxy feel – it all depends on the formula. Also, every formula differs in after-care – some at home treatments will have you wait to wash where others you can rinse out with a conditioner right away. Or, some treatments will allow you to dye your hair or do other treatments to your hair in the same sitting, while it might disturb and strip out others.

Home treatments are great, and smartly cost effective – but you definitely should do your research. Just because a brand of treatment is a big name in the world of beauty means nothing in the world of keratin. Sometimes it is best to go for a smaller brand whose main focus is their keratin products for the best, safest formulas.



    1. Excellent question! As we mentioned briefly in the post, a Formaldehyde-free formula is what you want to look for. Ideally, you want one with as few harsh chemicals as possible and the highest keratin content as possible – so the higher up keratin is on the ingredient list, the better.

      Also, be sure to watch our for the places Formaldehyde hides. Formaldehyde is most dangerous in the form of a gas – so, when a formula is heated to temperatures upwards of 400 degrees during a treatment, there are still ingredients used by many of the top names in keratin that release Formaldehyde gas even though they are able to say they are “Formaldehyde-Free”. In addition to ditching a formula if it has Formaldehyde of Aldehyde clearly on the ingredients list, also watch out for Urea and Methyl glycol – all of these ingredients will release Formaldehyde gas when heated. These last two ingredients can be in formulas but they can STILL claim to be Formaldehyde-Free because the liquid formula doesn’t contain Formaldehyde.

  1. Hi , I would like to know my hair is thin and little bit frizz and I am on istaroid pls suggest me that I can go for this treatment it is suitable for me or not.

    1. Thank you for your question! If you are looking for sleek, smooth hair with better manageability, Zelo Keratin is the way to go. Zelo is not damaging at all, it actually contains lots of natural oils that promote hydration in your hair. The results will be smooth, shiny, beautiful hair. Your dry hair will certainly benefit from using Zelo. Here is the link for the Zelo Keratin set

  2. I’ve had a treatment done once before and loved the results. It’s time for another one but I am having trouble justifying the cost. I would like to do my own at home but am not sure of which one to buy for my hair type. It’s a wavy curl and very very dry and frizzy. Do you have a favorite product/brand?


    1. Our favorite is of course Zelo Brazilian Keratin Smoothing System. The reason we like this system is because it is 100% formaldehyde free, free of toxins and harsh chemicals unlike many other smoothing systems out there. You can do the treatment at home and it is very affordable: $19.99 on (not sold in stores). The Zelo system is great if you want to get rid of the frizz and get sleeker, softer hair. The keratin will last in your hair for up to 30 washes depending on how often you wash your hair and your lifestyle habits. Keeping in mind that it is smoothing system, it will loosen your curl pattern making it more manageable and easy to style. All you have to do to maintain a straight look is do a quick blow dry after each wash, but if you get bored of the straight hair want to rock the curls, you can also do that! The application is super easy too! Now, Zelo has two keratin systems, one for course and kinky hair and one for more of the natural curl like you are describing. For you I would recommend the regular strength which will be the yellow box, here is the link:–curl-control-hair-smoothing-system/ID=prod6214045-product

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