A Non-Scary Keratin Treatment That Actually Works


People are judgy. And they're particularly judgy about girls with curly hair who prefer to wear it straight. "But your hair is so pretty! I wish I had hair like yours! I can't believe you don't like it—why don't you try using the product Girl With the Perfect Curly Ringlets uses?" I've met 2-3 people in my life who actually look better with super-curly hair. None of those people are me.

That's why, since I turned 20, I've been relaxing my hair in one way or another. I started with the Japanese straightener, which really didn't work. Then I tried the at-home relaxers for white people, which definitely didn't work, and then I started getting my hair relaxed by a professional, which worked. But it made my hair so frail that I had to wear it in a bob. (I prefer it long.)

A few years ago, a stylist introduced me to keratin, which has been somewhat of a life saver. I know people say that all the time about beauty products, but really, my day-to-day life has changed. I can now roll out of bed in the morning, BRUSH my hair (something that my curly hair only allows when it's wet and full of conditioner) and be done with it. I only wash my hair a couple of times a week, and it's healthier, shinier and easier to manage because of it.

But as you've probably heard, keratin treatments give people one more reason to get all judgy on me. Most formulas contain formaldehyde, the scary-sounding ingredient that "activates" the keratin and makes your hair straight and frizz free. When I read that most keratin treatments contain formaldehyde, I didn't freak out. Maybe because my mom has worked in a morgue for half of my life and is around the sorta-scary preservative constantly. Maybe because I figured the amount of formaldehyde in the treatment was so small that I would be okay. Or maybe because I'm vain.

It was probably a combination of all three, but man am I glad I found Simply Smooth, a Long Island-based company that makes keratin products containing no more than .2 percent formaldehyde, often way less, sometimes none at all. (In many countries, including the UK and Canada, .2 percent is the highest amount of formaldehyde allowed. Here it's the recommended cut-off point, but many products contain more like 11 percent.)

I visited Simply Smooth's Long Island flagship salon last month, where owner Doreen Guarneri assessed my hair texture. It's way curlier in the back than it is in the front, so she used three different strength tretaments on different parts of my hair.  In the back, I got a "primer" (more like a true relaxer, which keratin is not). On top of the primer went a keratin treatment. Around my face, where my hair is less curly, I got a lighter version of the keratin.

Guarneri developed the multiple-level treatment a few years ago after falling ill when using a keratin prototype. "I felt terrible," she said. "This is my job—this is my life. So we decided to create something that was safe enough for me to work with several times a day." The line also features plenty of formaldehyde -free upkeep products, from keratin-infused shampoo and conditioner to a fantastic dry shampoo.

The results are perfection. I no longer have a kink of curl at the crown of my head, and my hair feels smooth and strong—different from when I used traditional and Japanese relaxers. And in all honesty, my hair is just better than it's ever been in its natural state. Judgers gonna judge. But at least I've got Simply Smooth as a defense.

Call 1-888-333-6563 or 631-242-3143 for a Simply Smooth salon near you.

Shailene Woodley Boldly Goes Blonde—Check Out Her Dramatic New 'Do!

From our partners: