Taming Tresses

August 19, 2013 | 2:28 PM

Keratin proves its staying power with new income-building opportunities for stylists.

Taming TressesOriginally associated only with super-smoothing in-salon treatments, keratin is spreading its wings! A protein found naturally in the hair, keratin is being tapped for multiple applications. This is keratin’s time to shine, and you can catch the glow with ticket-building services and products.

“The gentler keratin formulas becoming popular now are delivering not-so-drastic results,” says Michelle Breyer, president of TextureMedia. “Huge multicultural marketing opportunities exist to target smoothers to clients who want to keep curl or wave but are looking for more definition and less frizz.”

Today’s treatments, which last about five months, primarily control unruly, textured hair, agrees Sherri Jessee, 2013 NAHA Editorial Stylist of the Year. “This next generation in smoothing products offers safe formulas that reduce frizz,” Jessee says. “Rather than making hair poker-straight, keratin treatments leave hair smoother and noticeably softer for silky waves or frizz-free, bouncy curls.”

To build income quickly, Jessee suggests training junior stylists to perform the typically two-hour keratin service. “Clients are willing to pay a good price for the service,” Jessee says.

Smoothing bends

Keratin and other smoothing services always had the potential to simply tame curl rather than eliminate it, according to Franco Della Grazia, Matrix Global Artist and Texture Ambassador, and leading stylist at the two Cutler Salon locations in New York City.

“Hair treated with chemical smoothing formulas was flat only because people were flattening it,” Della Grazia says. “People would iron it—that was all they knew how to do.”

As curly looks grew in demand and formulas became more curl-friendly, stylists and clients began to explore alternatives to ironing.

“These services are meant to smooth down the cuticle surface, not to flatten the hair so you can’t get movement,” Della Grazia continues. “It’s important to find out what clients are trying to achieve and then offer them something that will shorten their styling time to get the look they want. Let them know that they can have smooth body and bounce.”

Clients want versatility, agrees Jeff Duckwall, a lead Creative Team member for GKhair and creative director at Maddison Taylor Salon in Cincinnati. “Some days they like to wear their hair smooth, and other days they like it curly, and they will pay whatever it takes to have healthy, beautiful hair,” Duckwall says. “Today’s clients want to keep texture, but they hate the fuzziness so in the past they’ve just gone straight. The exclusive Juvexin technology that goes into every GKhair system does not take away the integrity of the curl.”

Della Grazia says some of the best clients for Matrix’s Opti.Smooth, an ionic technology treatment, are men. “A lot of men really hate that wave in their hair,” he explains. “I do a quick, 20-minute service on every second hair cut appointment, and the added dollars are fantastic—I’m adding $80 every second time they come in, and it takes me no time at all.”

Clients who have been getting relaxing services are discovering these newer options.

“Relaxing clients are switching over to taming systems because they’re getting the same look without breaking down or tearing up their hair,” Duckwall says. “Their hair stays in a healthy state. Once they try it, they never go back to chemical relaxers. Or they can keep the Afro without all the frizz. And if their goal is to transition to completely natural hair, the taming system helps the transition, taking away the appearance of regrowth.”

Taming TressesBeyond the in-salon service

Clients who have a smoothing service are not about to risk the results by using just any shampoo and conditioner. Therefore in addition to the revenue you earn from the in-salon service, the after-care potential income is significant.

For clients who have not had a smoothing service, keratin comes into play as a liberally used frizz-controlling agent in shampoos, conditioners and styling products, perfect for clients hoping to increase their hair’s manageability. For example, a hair spray with keratin is an easy suggestion to make for a client looking for a lighter hold but still concerned with guarding against frizz.

Even tool technology is influenced by the keratin movement. Some flat irons have emerged with keratin-treated titanium plates, while other irons are designed to work compatibly with smoothing treatments. Duckwall says GKhair’s titanium iron helps hair retain moisture. “It’s not damaging the hair,” he notes. “It’s actually helping the hair.”

Now that versatility is part of the smoothing story, Breyer sees the category growing.

“Keratin services used to be one size fits all,” she says, “whether it complemented the client or not. Now there’s a lot of nuance within the category.”

More from Texture


2019 NAHA Finalists: Texture

Lauren Salapatek | December 4, 2018

The NAHA texture category demonstrates texture skills with designs that complement the individuality of diverse hair textures. Hair texture may be natural or chemically treated, but entries must display wearable, cutting-edge textured hair styles.


2018 NAHA Finalists: Texture

Lauren Salapatek | April 29, 2018

The texture category in the North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA) demonstrates texture skills with designs that complement the individuality of diverse hair textures. Hair texture may be natural or chemically treated, but entries must display wearable, cutting-edge textured hair styles.

Load More