Keratin Vs texture release: Which temporary hair treatment is better for loosening curls?

a woman stretching out her curl
Keratin treatment Vs texture release for curlsGetty Images

Keratin treatments – the most famous being the Brazillian blow dry – are most known for being temporary straightening treatments lasting around three months. At age 19, that's exactly what I was in search of, I was told the treatment would smooth out my hair, making it easier to blow-dry and straighten. So, I committed a sizable £99 of my student budget (justified as £1 a day) and off I went to the hair salon.

Funnily enough, after I got the treatment, I nearly stopped straightening my hair altogether. You see my fluffy, tight spirals dropped into loose silky waves and big curls, I loved them. I had the length, the swish, and the manageability from occasional straightening, but kept the texture and curl that felt like me. Plus, there were no hours of arduous straightening, and no dried-out hair. Looking back, I can see that texturism (bias in favour of looser, softer curl patterns) was most certainly at play here, but its impact turned out positive in the long term.

Over the following few months, my curls would slowly return to their original state and I’d be happy to see them back, and then, when the mood struck, I’d go back for the treatment again. As confidence in my curls grew, the treatments became less and less frequent, till there were years in between and eventually, I just stopped.

If someone tells me they’re struggling to embrace their curly hair, or are debating going down the straightening path, I have always suggested a keratin treatment as a halfway house. It's also an alternative to choices like relaxers or texturisers, which can permanently alter the hair structure and curl pattern. For me, the texture play I got from keratin treatments was a big part in my learning to feel hot without straight hair, and was something I would turn to to feel better when the confidence I had in my curls dipped, or if I found myself straightening a lot. It was a crutch on the path to curl acceptance.

After years of leaving my hair to do its thing, I recently decided to book a keratin treatment again, and revisit those looser curls (I'll be honest, this decision was heavily influenced by the need to hide a terrible haircut as it grew out - but that's a story for another day).

When I shared my plans with a colleague, she asked why I didn't opt for a texture release instead? (A treatment that's actually designed for such a purpose.)

After chatting with her, it sounded to me like the results of a texture release would be very similar to those of a keratin treatment. So, I spoke to Hair Stylist, Pashcan'el Mitchell, from Blue Tit Salons to get all the expert details on the difference between the two, and to find out once and for all, which is better...

What is a keratin treatment?

First things first, let's go back to the basics. “A keratin treatment is a smoothing and straightening treatment that helps reduce frizz and allows your blow-dry to last longer, as well as make the hair more manageable," says Pash, explaining; "It involves applying a keratin-based solution and sealing it in with heat. This treatment can be a good option for those looking to achieve versatility with your hair, allowing you to wear your hair straight or wear your natural texture. Over time it will fade out of your hair.”

How much do keratin treatments change your hair texture?

Pash says; "It's important to note that the effectiveness of any keratin treatment, can vary depending on factors such as hair type, condition, and the specific product used."

But he also explained that there are two general groups:

  • Straightening keratin treatments are designed to primarily relax and straighten curly or wavy hair, providing a sleek and smooth finish. They are more intensive and tend to result in a very straight look.”

  • Defrizzing keratin treatments, on the other hand, focus on reducing frizz and improving manageability while maintaining some of the natural texture. They are milder compared to straightening treatments and are ideal for those who want to keep some of their natural curl or wave pattern while minimizing frizz.”

It was the straightening type (which includes the Brazillian blow dry) that gave me big curls and a smooth wavy texture, while defrizzing options made my hair silkier and only dropped the hair into looser spiral curls. Keratin systems vary, so it’s important to be clear and discuss with your stylist what you’re looking to achieve, and how long for, particularly if you’re looking to keep your curls.

Whatever option you choose, keratin treatments give you the option to wear a sleek, glossy straight look on occasion, if you do choose to straighten your curls.

a girl with a keratin treatment holding a bottle
My keratin-treated hair when straightened.Hearst Owned

What is a texture release?

Unlike a texturiser (a milder form of relaxer), texture releases are temporary, lasting around three months, and they do not use harmful chemicals or damage the hair.

“The Texture Release treatment system offers versatility for textured hair. Unlike a keratin system, texture release is a moisture-based, heat-activated treatment, giving you complete control. With options for elongation, versatility, and optimum results, you can tailor the treatment to your client's desires and hair texture," says Pash. "This system not only extends the life of your blowouts but also aids in managing your hair's texture, taming frizz, and providing the flexibility to wear your hair curly or straight.”

Does a keratin treatment achieve the same results as a texture release?

So, it turns out my use for a Kertatin treatment was totally valid, and safe to use to alter your hair texture. While it felt like I'd invented using it this way, of course, others were doing the same. Yes, some keratin systems are designed for such a purpose, but it's not quite the same as a texture release.

According to Pash; “It's possible to achieve similar results with a keratin treatment, but it may not be an exact match to a texture release. The outcome depends on the specific type of keratin product the salon uses and your client's hair type."

While I was somewhat blindly hoping for the best with my keratin treatments – not knowing exactly what my curls would look like each time – a texture release gives the stylist more control to create a specific texture or pattern.

So what’s better for temporarily altering your curl pattern?

That really depends; “Choosing the right treatment for your hair is an important decision. It ultimately hinges on your client's desired outcome and their unique hair texture," says Pash. "For newcomers to these treatments, I'd recommend considering the texture release. It stands out in the market due to its exceptional control and choice, catering to all hair types with its moisture-based approach supplemented by proteins. On the other hand, there are numerous keratin systems available, each designed to deliver specific results for particular hair types. The effectiveness of these can vary depending on the salon and brand used.”

So in short, you can use either. Keratin treatments are more accessible as they are offered widely, but you have more control over the exact curl pattern with a texture release.

Of course, over-use or badly performed treatments of either can cause damage to the hair. The one decision that's more important than which you choose, is who you choose - so be sure to select a well-trained, well-informed stylist you can trust.

What costs more, a keratin treatment or a texture release?

While prices vary hugely between different salons and different stylists (expect anywhere from £150- £350), they typically cost around the same price as each other.

Which takes longer?

A keratin treatment will have you in the salon for around 2 hours and 30 minutes, whereas a texture release can take closer to 3 hours. So neither one is a quick option; books and snacks are recommended!

What lasts longer, a keratin treatment or a texture release?

Both treatments last around 12 weeks depending on the system used, the care taken, hair type, lifestyle, and how well it was performed.

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