Floridians willing to spend big on 'frizz free silky straight' hair
Despite the soft economy, a Brazilian hair treatment that costs from $150 to $600 remains a must-buy for many clients, hair salon owners say.It’s touted as keeping hair silky straight.Related Content
In a tough economy, old stigmas fall away
BY KAREN BURKETT
Most South Florida businesses are struggling right now due to a sluggish economy.
But local hair salons are struggling to keep up with demand for a pricey hair-straightening service called the Keratin treatment.
Despite the economy, customers are spending anywhere from $150 -- $600 to get this look.
The economist will tell you if the benefit is significantly greater than the cost, then the consumer will purchase it,'' says Albert Williams, assistant professor of finance and economics at Nova Southeastern University. ``South Florida is a marketplace where we're very conscious of beauty.''
The treatment is supposed to make your hair frizz free and silky straight even in South Florida humidity.
Clients call there stylists demanding the Keratin service before most salon’s even begin offering it.
``We were getting calls weekly for Keratin and straightening techniques that weren't relaxers.''
``Once we got the stylists experienced doing it ,we are now able to deal with the demand for Keratin. And for the two stylists that do it in my salon, some weeks it's 30 to 50 percent of their revenue.''
At this year's Miami Beauty Show at the Miami Beach Convention Center, held in late August, a large number of distributors featured Keratin products.
Workshops with stylists wanting to learn more were packed.
Donna Oz a stylist at Contour Day Spa who got trained in the Keratin treatment because she loved how it looked so much on her own hair.
``I learned to do it because I love my hair. . . . I can recommend to everybody it's very good.''
While new to many salons in South Florida, the Keratin treatment is actually more than a decade old.
It began in rural Brazil.
Keratin eventually got the attention of cosmetic manufacturers in Brazil, was imported to the U.S., and was eventually featured in style articles everywhere from magazines like Allure and Essence to newspapers like The New York Times.
Now mainstream outlets like the Hair Cuttery advertise Keratin treatment in brochures at their front desks.
The Keratin treatment even has its own urban legend.
It's said that an embalmer accidentally tried the solution on a corpse's hair -- and then thought it might work well on a living soul. So how is it done?
After the stylist washes your hair with a clarifying shampoo, the Keratin solution is applied, the hair is blown dry, and flat ironed at 450 degrees.
The price of the service varies, depending on the salon and the length of one's hair, but again, the lower end is $150 per treatment.
`A CHARM TO IT'
``There is a lure to it, a charm to it,'' says Williams of Nova Southeastern, ``and once a person includes this product or service in their consumption basket, they will continue to purchase this product. It's called the inelastic good, the `I've gotta have it.' ''
People of all shades and hair textures are getting Keratin treatments.
``People have been willing to spend $200, $300 on their children to have their hair more manageable. And people of all races, white, black, Hispanic. People with relaxed hair. People with kinky hair. And it really is for these people, a major lifestyle change.''
One Salon indicated Wednesday is traditionally a slower day for salons, but not this day.
Half the clients are coming in for the Keratin treatment.
`Especially now in the bad economy, we are still doing 30 keratins a day,'' she says. She draws customers from throughout South Florida.
``One thing that happens is it changes your hair texture for the better,'' Souza Alves says. ``And another thing is when you work hard on your hair and you have wavy hair or curly hair or frizzy hair and this humidity it's raining outside and then it looks beautiful. You don't need to do anything.''
``I live in Davie but it's about 30 minutes drive but it's worth it,'' says client Stella Zaragoveya.
``Because now I don't worry. I absolutely don't worry. If it rains, I don't care.''
Now there are risks.
The Brazilian Keratin treatment is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration -- the FDA simply doesn't review cosmetic products for safety -- and there have been questions about the treatment containing dangerous levels of formaldehyde. The FDA says it's only received two complaints about Keratin based treatments.
In the past 10 days, Oregon OSHA announced that various formulas did contain dangerous levels of formaldehyde, despite the fact that packages were labeled formaldehyde-free.
Some stylists have complained about nose bleeds, headaches, and eye irritation after they've applied it. Oregon OSHA is requiring salons to take steps to protect their employees such as fans to circulate the air in the salon and ventilation systems.
Not that these concerns have stopped customer demand.
``I think the reason it works in Miami. . . . in addition to the humidity is because people are always active,'' said Glow Salon's Narine. ``So if you go to the gym a lot you don't want to sit there thinking I don't want to deal with the frizz.''
Narine, once a cautious salon owner, finally gave Keratin a try -- on herself.
``I had keratin, I have curly hair. I had it done last week. The next day I went to the gym, and for the first time, I felt like I could walk out without my hair looking crazy because my hair was not frizzy at all.''
Article on Traditional Keratin Treatment