Ever since my amazing drybar blowout, I’ve been experiencing some winter hair-related depression. Why can’t it be that smooth and soft all the time? Why has the cold left it feeling EXTRA-horsehair-like? Ugh. I’ve had a taste of the good life and now I want more!
Because I don’t have $80 to spend on getting my hair washed and blown out every week, I’ve been looking into other, more lasting ways to get my hair just right. Sable made me consider a perm, but since my hair is super colour-treated (dye over bleach over dye over bleach, ad infinitum), it’s not the best option for me right now.
I had been researching Brazilian blowouts and semi-permanent keratin treatments when I stumbled across this bad boy on an end cap at my local Target while grabbing some groceries.
This is the Tresemme Expert Selection Keratin Smooth starter set. It promises to work with the heat of a flat iron to “Transform unruly hair into salon-smooth hair that lasts through three washes.” It also says that it was gentle enough to use on colour-treated hair
It was also $8. What did I have to lose?
The starter kit came with a little bottle of shampoo, conditioner, the heat-activated treatment and detailed instructions. I appreciated that the shampoo and conditioner came in different-coloured containers, because I am REALLY GREAT at getting my products mixed up in the shower.
My hair is fairly short, but it’s very thick. I found that there’s about enough shampoo and conditioner in the starter kit for two washes, but only enough heat-activated treatment for one. This may vary depending on how thick and long your hair is.
To really get a feel for how this really works, I followed the written instructions to the letter.
First, I washed my hair with the shampoo, then conditioned it with the conditioner. The shampoo was fine--it has a light scent that I didn’t adore, but it didn’t really bother me. My hair felt very clean after using it, similar to the squeaky-clean feeling that you get after using a clarifying shampoo. The conditioner was rich and left my hair feeling very soft, but it had kind of an odd scent undertone to its. It’s not BAD; it’s like when you’re in a salon and you can smell the fragrances of the dyes, but there’s also that slight chemical tinge underneath. It’s not awful, and it goes away, but I’m used to conditioners smelling really aggressively nice, so this was a surprise.
Anyway, when I was done, I towel-dried my hair and separated it into sections. The guide said that I should aim for four sections--having thick/coarse but short hair--but I have a lot of hair, so I did three on each side for a total of six.
I squeezed a quarter-sized blob of the treatment into my palm, rubbed my hands together, then smoothed it through each section from root to tip.
Then I combed it through to make sure it was evenly dispersed. The treatment isn’t unpleasant--my scalp didn’t hurt in the way that APPARENTLY can happen with a lot of keratin treatments--but it has the same odd smell as the conditioner. So I don’t know. It isn’t bad enough to stop me using it, but it reminded me that this was definitely more hardcore than a leave-in conditioner.
Then I blowdried my hair until it was completely dry. I almost always leave my hair to air-dry about 1/4 of the way, but let us adhere to instructions or die.
This is where I first saw the difference--the leave-in treatment made my hair dry INCREDIBLY FAST. I’ve never spent under 10 minutes blowing out my hair before, but here we are. Wow.
Next, I flat-ironed my hair in small sections. It says to do this in the illustrated guide, but that’s how I straighten my hair anyway--which I made a video about, once upon a time. I did three passes with my straightener per section, as instructed.
I found that the smaller the sections, the easier this is. Make sure you move your straightener quickly and evenly down the hair, as stopping can make dents that are then especially hard to remove. I gave my hair a bit of flip at the ends so it wasn’t dead straight, and was especially careful not to hit my forehead while straightening my bangs.
And here is the finished result.
It looks pretty nice! It is shiny and smooth, and it feels soft to the touch. Maybe not quite AS soft as post-Drybar blowout, but a perfectly respectable result. For eight bucks, I am really impressed at how well it worked!
But how did it last?
The marketing for this says that hair will stay this nice for a week, or up to three washes. I decided to stick to my usual twice-weekly washing schedule and see, using the Tresemme shampoo and conditioner to really test the results.
Again, I was pretty impressed! This time of year, my scalp gets dry and a little flaky. The shampoo kept that under control without scrubbing my hair so clean that it felt stripped. Still didn’t ADORE the conditioner’s smell, but again, it goes away so it was only a very slight issue for, like, three minutes in the shower.
You don’t reapply the heat-activated stuff again; you just blowdry and style after washing, and I definitely noticed a difference in the manageability of my hair. After blowdrying, my hair is usually pretty frizzy and feels maximum coarse. Post-keratin treatment, my blowdry frizz was GREATLY reduced--I no longer looked like a puffy triangle. My hair stayed soft and shiny; slightly less soft than immediately after the first treatment, but softer than it would normally be with just straightening.
I kind of had the impression from the box that my hair would look like I’d flat-ironed it as soon as it was dry, but that’s not quite what happened. My hair was smoother than it normally would be, but it wasn’t perfect. To get it that way, I turned my straightener on a low heat and straightened all my hair, again lightly flipping it under at the ends. Normally, my hair would laugh in the face of low heat. But after this treatment, it straightened and smoothed nicely.
But the proof is in the pictures. Here’s how it looks after five days and one wash (and one straighten).
But now, let’s talk about some factors that may have confounded my results.
It’s been polar vortex cold here, and the air has been DRY AS HELL. I am not sure how this system will stand up to humid conditions, but I’m happy enough with the wintertime results to want to try it out again.
I am also not sure how well this will work on any other hair than mine. A sample size of one makes it hard to draw inferences about how well it will work across other hair textures. I am not sure, for example, how straight this would keep very curly hair, or whether it would make extra-fine hair a bit too flat and volume-free. And it didn’t affect my colour, but the shampoo and conditioner aren’t formulated to keep colour, so I don’t know what would happen to my brown after a month of using this.
For now, this is pretty sweet.
My final verdict: I really liked this product. It did exactly what it said it would do on the box and left my hair looking (and feeling) really nice. It lasted really nicely throughout my life--far better than straightening alone would--and held up through my normal washing schedule.
I liked that this starter set gave me an opportunity to REALLY try out the “system,” and it was awesomely priced. If you’re looking to reduce frizz on a slightly more permanent basis, give it a try! I will definitely be buying the full-sized heat activated treatment in the near future. It’s awesome, and I’m happy with my results.
I give the Tresemme Expert Selection Keratin Smooth starter kit two very enthusiastic thumbs up. Fine family fun.
Have you guys ever had a keratin treatment? Have you ever wanted to? Do you think you’re going to try this out at home? Should I make my puffy blown-out Myrtle Snow hair a thing now? BALENCIAAAAAGAAAAAA!