I have hair that is neither straight nor wavy nor curly, but a combination I tend to describe as “ummm, kind of…wonky”—unless I straighten it to within an inch of its life every time I wash it. It is also super thick, so drying it is a chore. People sometimes ask me why I “never do anything with it”; the truth is it takes me a REALLY LONG TIME to make it look like I never do anything with it, and once that’s done I have other things to do, I don’t want to think about it anymore, my arms are tired, and my boyfriend has already been waiting for half an hour.
In the summer, things get worse: all my hard work comes undone the second I step out into Toronto’s boiling swamp air, and gets replaced with what I refer to as my “Monica in Barbados” hair. In the past, I considered splurging on the Brazilian treatments favoured by Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Richie, but some of those contain dangerous levels of formaldehyde (a carcinogen they use to embalm corpses). Unsurprisingly, Health Canada issued an advisory about several such offenders in 2010. Enter the new, formaldehyde-free Goldwell Kerasilk salon service, a smoothing treatment that promises to frizz-proof your hair for up to five months and cut blow-drying time in half. WHAT. Give it here.
Off I went to Toronto’s Haartek Salon, where my stylist, Mila, explained how it works: glyoxylic acid and keratin and silk proteins penetrate the hair, where they create a latticework of new keratin bonds. The formula has two components, smoothing and shaping, so it can be customized according to your hair type and desired results (i.e., you can keep some of your natural curl or wave, unlike with Japanese thermal reconditioning, which gives you one option: pin straight). I went for the intense-smoothing, medium-shaping combo (curves are beautiful).
Mila washed my hair, combed the sweet-smelling, pale yellow goop into it, then blow-dried and straightened it; the heat helps form the bonds. Then she washed the product out and blow-dried a second time. She didn’t use an attachment, or even a round brush—she just tousled. When she was done, it was like someone had run my hair through a very flattering Instagram filter. It looked shampoo-commercial sleek, not to mention stronger, with better elasticity. The next time I washed it, it took minutes to dry, and I didn’t have to touch my straightener.
To make the magic last as long as possible, I’ve been using after-care products from the Kerasilk line, including shampoo and a conditioning mask, and avoiding hair stuff that contains silicone (i.e., ingredients ending in –cone), which can break down the bonds. I like to switch up shampoos, so I’ve been alternating the Kerasilk one with Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light Silicone-Free Shampoo, which leaves it super soft. Three months later, the results have faded a bit—I find myself plugging in my straightener a few times a week—but it’s holding up in the humidity pretty well, and it still takes much less time to blow-dry. Somehow, though, I still manage to keep my boyfriend waiting.
Goldwell Kerasilk Keratin Smoothing Service, from $300 for salon treatment; $15–$66 for at-home products