A Guide to Keratin Treatment on Colored Hair
By Tina Moretti
The idea of doing a keratin treatment on colored hair always seemed risky to me.
I thought that it was the other way around.
As in keratin treatment first, then hair color on top.
But it turns out that if you want to get a keratin treatment and color your hair at the same time …
You should do the coloring first.
I’ve asked a few hairstylists, gathered their opinions + explanations, and poured it all into this article for you 👇
Table of Contents
- Keratin Treatment or Color First?
- Can You Do Keratin Treatment After Coloring Hair?
- Why Keratin Treatment On Colored Hair Works Better
- Will Keratin Treatment Fade Hair Color?
- How Soon After Coloring Hair Can You Get a Keratin Treatment?
- Caring for Colored Hair After Keratin Treatment
- Final Thoughts
Keratin Treatment or Color First?
To understand how these two treatments can overlap without causing damage and deliver good results, let’s look at how they work.
By the end of this section, you will have a clear idea of why it’s better to have your color service done before a keratin smoothing or straightening treatment.
Hair coloring, whether semi-permanent or permanent, is a chemical process that changes the color of the hair by depositing pigments into it. A peroxide or ammonia-based developer is first used to open the hair cuticles for color molecules to penetrate. Once they’re in, they bond with natural keratin proteins in the hair and alter the hair color.
The main difference between semi-permanent and permanent hair color lies in the size of the dye molecules and the strength of the developer used. Semi-permanent dye molecules are smaller and don’t penetrate the hair shaft as deeply as permanent ones.
A keratin treatment, also known as a Brazilian blowout or keratin smoothing treatment, is a hair care product that reduces frizz and improves the overall appearance of the hair for several months. The treatment involves applying keratin (in liquid form) and pressing the solution with a flat iron at high heat to seal it.
The process helps to fill gaps and irregularities in the hair’s structure, resulting in noticeably softer, stronger, and frizz-free hair.
Once the keratin treatment has bonded to the hair, it forms a thin protective layer over the hair shafts to reduce frizz, increase smoothness, and boost shine.
Let’s look at what happens when you do one after the other and vice versa.
Coloring Hair After Keratin Treatment
This illustration shows how applying hair dye after a keratin treatment reacts. As you can see, the keratin layer obstructs color pigments from reaching the hair.
Here’s what’s happening:
- Keratin treatment closes and seals the hair’s cuticle layer.
- The color treatment will force the cuticle layer to re-open to inject color.
It does not make sense. If anything, it can cause over-processing and accelerate damage.
Coloring Hair Before Keratin Treatment
This illustration shows how color before keratin makes sense. As the color is already infused into the hair shafts, the keratin treatment locks the color molecules in by sealing the cuticle layer.
- The cuticle layer is opened to infuse color,
- During the same window, a keratin treatment is applied,
- The keratin treatment then closes the cuticles.
Since the color pigments need to get into the hair by opening the cuticle layer, doing the keratin treatment simultaneously means it’s less stressful and damaging to the hair. The cuticles are not closed and reopened. To make it even better, the keratin treatment takes care of closing the cuticle layer, reinforcing it with a protective coating.
Can You Do Keratin Treatment After Coloring Hair?
Yes, you can do a keratin treatment after coloring your hair. It works better this way as the keratin coating protects the color. Doing the treatments in this particular order is also less damaging to the hair, and you’re more likely to get better results.
If you’re planning to get a keratin treatment on dyed hair, talk to your hairstylist about the potential impact on your hair color, especially if you have bleached hair. Choosing a keratin treatment formulated for color-treated hair is also essential to ensure the best results.
If you’ve already done your keratin treatment and you want to dye your hair or add highlights, wait at least two weeks to do so.Read: How long to wait after keratin treatment to color hair?
Why Keratin Treatment On Colored Hair Works Better
There are many reasons why coloring the hair before a keratin treatment is highly recommended and can help you achieve better results.
Here are a few of them:
The Process Is Less Damaging
Applying hair dye after keratin treatment requires the dye developer to lift the cuticles to deposit color pigments. If done too soon, the process can crack the keratin coating on the hair, causing uneven and frizzy hair that may leave both treatments looking worse.
On the other hand, applying keratin treatment immediately on freshly coloured hair can yield better results since the cuticles are already open. The keratin solution will absorb faster.
Editor's Note:Such hair treatments should be done with caution and assisted by a professional to properly determine the condition of the hair during the process. Doing it at home without help from a professional can lead to unintended consequences, such as over-processing.
Keratin Acts as a Color Protector
A keratin treatment adds a protective coating around the hair shaft to make it smooth, reduce frizz, increase shine, and protect the hair from environmental factors such as humidity, pollution, and oxidizers.
This process can help prevent color fade by reducing the abrasion and friction the hair experiences during washing and styling, which can cause color molecules to loosen and rinse out of the hair shaft. In addition, the protective layer created by keratin treatments can help to shield hair from UV rays and other environmental stressors that can lead to color fading over time.
Coloring before keratin treatment = vibrant color that lasts longer.
It Can Brighten Hair Color
Since a keratin treatment fills in gaps and damage in the hair shaft, creating a more even surface, it helps the hair reflect light better to appear shinier and healthier.
As a result, color-treated hair looks more vibrant with plenty of shine.
Keratin Treatment Can Heal Damage from Coloring Treatments
Chemically treated hair, such as colored and bleached hair, tends to be more porous since the cuticles are lifted with alkaline agents.
If the cuticles do not fully close after the process, the hair shaft remains vulnerable to further damage from environmental factors, heat styling, or mechanical stress, such as brushing or combing. The hair may also appear frizzy.
A keratin treatment heals the hair by bonding keratin proteins and filling in gaps and irregularities in the hair structure to ensure even porosity and a smoother surface.
However, it’s important to note that keratin treatment alone may not completely heal the damage caused by color or bleach. The extent of the damage and the type of color or bleach used must be considered. For example, if the hair is severely damaged, it may not be able to handle the additional stress of a keratin treatment and could become more damaged.
Always consult a professional hairstylist to examine your hair and determine whether a keratin treatment will be appropriate after a color or bleach treatment.
Will Keratin Treatment Fade Hair Color?
Yes, a keratin treatment can potentially fade hair color. The chemicals in the treatment can interact with the hair dye, leading to a slight color fade. The heat needed to seal the treatment can also slightly lighten the shade. So expect your hair color to go a bit lighter, but it won’t be drastic.
The extent of the color fade can vary depending on factors such as your hair type, the hair dye used, and the specific keratin treatment formula.
If you want to do both, a hairdresser can customize the treatments for better results by applying the right color to mitigate the fading effect and using an appropriate keratin treatment.
How Soon After Coloring Hair Can You Get a Keratin Treatment?
You can immediately follow a hair color treatment with a keratin treatment if you’re getting the treatments done professionally in a hair salon.
But be prepared, as it can make for a very long appointment!
The color treatment will be done first. Then after the color is washed out, keratin is applied and sealed into the hair.
If you opt for having the treatments done on different days, it’s recommended to have the color service done before the keratin treatment.
Caring for Colored Hair After Keratin Treatment
Once you’ve had your color and keratin treatments done, following a good aftercare routine is essential for upkeep.
Here are a few things you MUST follow to maintain both treatments:
Use a Sulfate-Free Shampoo
Use a shampoo that doesn’t contain sulfates (SLS/SLES) and sodium chloride. Sulfates and sodiums are strong detergents that can strip natural oils, the keratin coating, and semi-permanent dye from the hair. Avoid them and use a gentle shampoo that is formulated to protect color and keratin.Recommended: Best shampoo to use after keratin treatment.
Wash Your Hair Less
Frequent washing breaks down the keratin coating and causes artificial colour pigments to bleed from the hair. Avoid washing frequently and use dry shampoo between washes for a few weeks until your hair adjusts.
Use a Silk Pillowcase
A silk pillowcase reduces friction, helps the hair retain moisture, minimizes tangles, and is more gentle than a cotton pillowcase. Cotton materials are rough on the hair and can cause creases, demarcation lines, and tangles. Cotton is also moisture-absorbent. It pulls moisture and natural oils from the hair.Read: How to sleep after keratin treatment to protect hair.
Avoid Excess Heat Styling
Too much heat from straightening irons and blow dryers can melt and break down the keratin coating from the hair, causing artificial color pigments to fade or become unevenly distributed throughout the hair. High heat also causes dehydration, leading to brittle hair strands that can break easily.
So steer clear of them and hydrate your color-treated hair to boost its glow.Recommended: Best deep conditioning hair masks to use post-keratin.
Color your hair first, then do your keratin treatment. It will be the best, longest-lasting color treatment you’ve ever had.
The keratin treatment prevents color fade, makes your color pop, and adds more shine and manageability to your locks. It’s a win-win!
GK HAIR Global Keratin Treatment