11 of the Best Keratin Treatments for Smoother, Stronger Hair

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When in-salon keratin treatments exploded onto the scene over a decade ago, they were one of the most innovative new services the beauty industry had seen in quite some time. Finally, a semi-permanent solution for people looking to lock out frizz and smooth out curls, no hot tools are required. The star of the show? Keratin, a fibrous protein naturally found in the hair that’s responsible for keeping it both strong and smooth and acts as a barrier to lock out humidity. Less keratin makes the hair porous, and in turn more susceptible to frizzing and poofiness; keratin treatments work by delivering a hefty dose of the protein to fill in these "holes."

There are a variety of different types out there, some of which also take it one step further and chemically alter the structure of the hair, resulting in an even greater straightening effect. The bottom line: The salon versions are ideal for those who want to smooth out kink and curl, and who crave long-lasting results. There are some drawbacks, though. Not all, but many pro-strength treatments do contain formaldehyde, an ingredient that can have some scary side effects. There’s also the time and money factor. Enter the beauty of at-home DIY keratin treatments.

Make no mistake, these aren’t a one-to-one swap for the salon version, but rather a slightly less intense, much more convenient alternative. Rather than penetrating deep into the hair, they sit on the surface, acting more akin to a reparative conditioning treatment. Still, the DIY keratin can have similar effects—making your hair stronger, smoother, and sleeker—they just won’t last as long. But if you need a quick fix, have damaged hair that could use some TLC, or just need the occasional smoothing hit, these at-home DIY options are the way to go.

Check out our picks of the best DIY keratin treatments out there.

Best Overall: Nexxus Keraphix Gel Treatment for Damaged Hair

4.5
Nexxus Keraphix Gel Treatment for Damaged Hair
What We Like
  • Protein rich

  • Easy to use where needed

  • Works on all hair types

What We Don’t Like
  • Best paired with Nexxus shampoo and conditioner

What do buyers say? 81% of 1,000+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

The at-home version of a more intense in-salon treatment (and a favorite among Byrdie editors), this protein-packed treatment uses not only keratin, but also collagen, elastin, and black rice extract. The result? A power dose of protein for your hair that helps repair damage almost instantly, all while leaving it silky and shiny, too. Also nice: You can easily apply it just where it’s needed (think beat-up ends or frizzy roots), and it works equally well on all hair types.

Type: Gel | Size: 0.67 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Budget: Hask Keratin Protein Smoothing Deep Conditioner Packette

Hask Keratin Protein Smoothing Deep Conditioner

Courtesy of Target

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Great for beginners

  • Also works as a deep conditioner

What We Don’t Like
  • Single-use packaging isn’t sustainable

This portable, single-use pack rings in for just a few dollars, a major boon for anyone on a budget or who isn’t sure if a keratin treatment is right for them. The keratin protein in the formula quickly restores softness and bounce and leaves hair with a glass-like sheen. It pulls double duty as a deep conditioner, too. We suggest taking it with you on any beach vacay (when your hair inevitably will take a beating) for an instant pick-me-up.

Type: Deep Conditioner | Size: 1.75 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Drugstore: TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Hair Shine Anti-Frizz Serum

4.8
TRESemme

Ulta Beauty

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Delivers multiple benefits

  • Can use on dry or damp hair

What We Don’t Like
  • Does contain silicones

Keratin works synergistically with marula oil in this drugstore find, offering serious frizz-fighting (that lasts for up to 48 hours, we should add). Non-greasy and fast-absorbing, it also leaves hair gorgeously glossy—basically like you just walked out of a blowout.

Type: Serum | Size: 3.3 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Hydrating: CHI Keratin Silk Infusion

CHI Keratin Silk Infusion

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Very moisturizing

  • Works on all hair types

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

True to its name, this will leave your hair silky soft, and smooth, quenching even the most parched hair. Keratin rebuilds the cuticle (the outer layer of the hair), but it also contains silk, which helps the hair retain moisture and packs a heavy hit of hydration. If you have ultra-dry or ultra-damaged hair, this is a must.

Type: Liquid | Size: 6 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Conditioner: Kérastase Resistance Ciment Anti-Usure Conditioner

Kérastase Resistance Conditioner for Damaged Hair

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Can be used daily

  • Works on all hair types

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

If you want to reap the benefits of keratin on the reg, choose this daily conditioner. Not only does it strengthen the hair fibers and help fend off breakage and split ends (yes, please), it also ups the shine and softness factors. Plus, it works great on all hair types, from super straight to super kinky.

Type: Conditioner | Size: 6.8 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best for Curly Hair: It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In Plus Keratin

It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Plus Keratin

 Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Delivers multiple benefits

  • Uses two kinds of keratin

  • Works on all hair types

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains parabens

Stylist and founder of the eponymous New York City salon Cédric says smoothing products that contain keratin are one of his favorite (and safest) ways to reap the benefits of keratin at home; this is one of his top picks. While this pick is effective on all hair types, it’s especially choice for curly girls, using a blend of both hydrolyzed keratin and keratin amino acids, as well as panthenol, a lightweight conditioning ingredient. It may not leave you with super straight hair, but what it can do is help smooth and de-frizz your spirals, for a more defined, polished look.

Type: Liquid | Size: 4 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best In-Between Treatments: Keratin Complex Infusion Keratin Replenisher

Keratin Complex Infusion Keratin Replenisher

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Contains a hefty amount of keratin

  • Can use on dry or damp hair

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

The Keratin Complex in-salon treatment is one of the more popular ones out there, ideal for reducing frizz, increasing strength, and still allowing for styling versatility (i.e. not leaving your hair stick straight). If you got it done at the salon, make sure to pick up this guy to use daily in between treatments. Hydrolyzed keratin is the second ingredient on the list, helping to keep your hair smooth and straight.

Type: Cream | Size: 2.5 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Damaged Hair: Rene Furterer Absolue Keratine Repairing Serum

Rene Furterer Absolue Keratine Repairing Serum

Rene Furterer

What We Like
  • Can be used daily

  • Silicone-free

  • Imparts heat protection

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

Cédric also likes this product, an especially good choice for those with damaged hair. It’s meant to be used on ends specifically, helping to strengthen the most fragile parts of the hair and ward off split ends. Credit a combo of things such as plant-based keratin and camelina oil.

Type: Serum | Size: 1 ounce | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Frizzy Hair: Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray Anti-Frizz Treatment

Color WOW Dream Coat Supernatural Spray Anti-Frizz Treatment

Sephora

What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Works on all hair types

What We Don’t Like
  • Must use a blow-dryer with it

“This acts as a mini keratin treatment and lasts for three to four washes,” says Cédric. It creates a shield-like coating on the hair, helping to ward off humidity-inducing frizz and locking in moisture and shine (and strength, too). Just FYI, the formula is heat-activated, so you will need to bust out the blow-dryer.

Type: Liquid | Size: 6.7 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Hair Color: Schwarzkopf Keratin Color Intensive Caring Color

Schwarzkopf Keratin Color Intensive Caring Color

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Delivers multiple benefits

What We Don’t Like
  • Permanent color; best for well-versed DIYers

Like heat styling, coloring your hair also contributes to the breakdown of your natural keratin. That’s why we think it’s so brilliant that this permanent DIY color is infused with hydrolyzed keratin to help combat those effects from the outset. And with a special anti-breaking, bond-protecting technology.

Type: Permanent color | Size: 1 application | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

Best Serum: Vitamins Keratin Protein Hair Serum

Vitamins Keratin Protein Hair Serum

Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Can be used daily

  • Lightweight

What We Don’t Like
  • Contains fragrance

A fan favorite on Amazon, reviewers (with all different hair types) rave about the effects of this serum, which combines hydrolyzed keratin along with biotin and collagen for a serious strengthening boost. Castor and coconut oils make it very moisturizing, though it’s still lightweight and won’t leave your hair feeling greasy or heavy.

Type: Serum | Size: 4.25 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Final Verdict

At-home keratin treatments aren’t equivalent to what you’ll find at the salon by any means, but they can be a good way to help smooth and strengthen hair, albeit temporarily. The Nexxus Keraphix Gel Treatment for Damaged Hair earns the top spot on our list, a protein-rich reparative treatment that can easily be used all-over hair or just on targeted areas that need a little strengthening boost, think brittle ends. If you’re trying to ward off frizz, the Color Wow Dream Coat for Curly Hair comes stylist-recommended and delivers results that last up to three washes. And for those who want to reap the benefits of keratin daily, using the Kérastase Resistance Ciment Anti-Usure Conditioner is one of the easiest ways to do exactly that. 

What to Look for in a Keratin Treatment

No Formaldehyde

According to Cédric, some of the more potent at-home keratin treatments which mimic in-salon versions may contain formaldehyde; it’s one of the reasons he doesn’t recommend them and advises sticking with smoothing or strengthening keratin serums and the like.

Built-In Heat Protection

Since likely, you will probably also be blow-drying your hair, keratin treatments that also act as a heat protectant are always a win.

FAQ
  • What are the benefits of keratin treatments?

    These types of at-home smoothing keratin treatments are beneficial for those who either don’t want or need something as intense as an in-salon keratin treatment, but they do want a little extra smoothing, says Cédric.

  • How often should you use keratin treatments?

    Your best bet is to follow the directions of the particular product you choose, says Cédric, although typically they can be used as often as needed, he says.

  • Do keratin treatments work for all hair types?

    Yes, most are formulated for all hair types, says Cédric, although the exact results you achieve will depend on your hair type to a certain extent. For example, those with super curly, coarse, or frizzy hair may not see as much of a benefit from at-home products as those with naturally finer or straighter hair, he says.

Why Trust Byrdie?

Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. While her fine hair is fairly straight, she is always looking for products that can help strengthen it, so she does reach for at-home keratin treatments occasionally or whenever she feels like her hair could use a little extra TLC.

Meet the Expert

Stylist Fuat Celik, AKA Cédric, is the founder of the Cédric Salon in New York City. He’s worked in cities across the globe for more than 25 years and has numerous high-profile and celebrity clients.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any keratin treatments from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
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  2. Health improvement of human hair and their reshaping using recombinant keratin K31. Biotechnology Reports. 2018;20:e00288.

  3. Yang FC, Zhang Y, Rheinstädter MC. The structure of people’s hair. PeerJ. 2014;2:e619.

  4. Basit A, Asghar F, Sadaf S, Akhtar MW. Health improvement of human hair and their reshaping using recombinant keratin K31Biotechnol Rep (Amst). 2018;20:e00288. doi:10.1016/j.btre.2018.e00288

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