Keratin Treatment or Color First? What Is Best? (Solved!)

It can be overwhelming knowing whether to color your hair or use a keratin treatment first. Advice is often conflicting – some say color first, others report that you should color second and keratin first. This article will clarify once and for all whether you should be using keratin or color first, and why.

keratin treatment or color first

Keratin Treatment or Color First?

In short, you should apply your hair color first before you apply a keratin treatment. If you’ve already undergone a keratin treatment, be sure to wait two weeks before you dye your hair. If you don’t, you could end up with uneven color and frizzy, dry locks.

Read on for greater detail about why to use color first and keratin second, as well as some more in-depth information about the benefits of a keratin treatment. 

How Does Hair Color Work?

In order to best understand why you want to be using hair color first, it’s useful to comprehend how hair color works in the first instance.

There are three kinds of color: temporary, semi-permanent, and permanent. We’re going to look in greater detail at the latter. 

Permanent Hair Color

Most permanent formulas contain both hydrogen peroxide and ammonia. This might sound a bit intense, but don’t worry, it’s industry standard.

The peroxide works to soften the cuticle of the hair, thereby allowing the molecules of the hair dye to penetrate the hair cortex and interact with the melanin.

The ammonia operates similarly, encouraging the cuticle to become more porous. 

In order to get the best hair coloration, your hair needs to be able to absorb the dye pigments.

It can only do this if there are no obstructions or other substances – including general build-up that block the color from penetrating the hair shaft.

This is why it’s recommended that you prep hair before color application with a clarifying wash.

It’s also why you want to be using a color treatment first, before any keratin treatment. 

Keratin is specifically designed to act as a barrier, protecting hair from harmful environmental factors and general build-up.

However, this can result in the keratin blocking hair color from penetrating into the cuticle.

It will therefore affect your end result. It’s for this reason that you want to be using hair color first, before keratin.

If you have recently had a keratin treatment, however, and you’re desperate to color your hair, check out these hair colors that may be suitable for keratin-treated hair.

Also Read: Dominican Blow Out: Everything You Need to Know

What Is A Keratin Treatment?

So, in order to appreciate why a keratin treatment might benefit hair that’s just been colored, let’s break down what it even is in the first place.

Otherwise known as a Brazilian blowout or a Brazilian keratin treatment, keratin treatments are a chemical procedure that reduces frizz and maximizes hair shine.

You can usually get a keratin treatment at your local hair salon or buy home DIY keratin treatment kits.

Treatments can last up to six months, and significantly help the management of thick, unruly locks. 

What Are The Benefits Of A Keratin Treatment?

There are three main advantages to using a keratin treatment after coloring your locks:

Balances Hair pH And Manages Breakages

Remember earlier, when we explained that hair color usually has ammonia in it?

As well as working to open up the cuticle to allow the color to penetrate deeper into the hair shaft, ammonia also activates an oxidation process that increases the pH level of hair to be highly alkaline.

The consequent effect is that hair can become weak, dry, and prone to breakage. 

By using color first, followed by a keratin treatment, you help repair the structural damage done by this high pH level.

The keratin also smooths and closes over hair cuticles, meaning they won’t be exposed to any further pollutants. This works to neutralize hair’s pH back to normal.

It’s deeply restorative, essentially working to minimize any chemical damage caused by the color treatment.

Keeps Color In For Longer

Keratin treatments work as a protective barrier for hair, coating each strand with a protective layer.

This in turn works to lock the color pigments in place, meaning the dye will last for longer.

That way, you get long-lasting color protection, with intensified, amplified coloration. It’s a win-win.

Smooth, Shiny Hair

Keratin works in hair to smooth the cells of each hair strand.

The end result is beautifully soft, silky, supple hair that resists frizzing. It also means that more moisture is locked in, so your tresses end up looking brighter and more hydrated. They’ll be glossy and look healthy.

By bonding hair cells in this way, keratin can also help to reduce the look of split ends.

Also Read: How To Avoid Poofy Hair After You Straighten It (Top Tips)

How To Care For Colored Hair After Your Keratin Treatment

keratin treatment or color first

So, you’ve followed our advice and used a hair color first, followed by a keratin treatment, and you’re now wondering how to care for your newly-luscious locks.

We have four tips for looking after your hair in order to reap the benefits from both the color and the keratin for as long as possible:

Use Sulphate-free Shampoos

You need to be using shampoos without any added sulfates on keratin treated hair.

Avoid any that list sodium chloride as an ingredient, too. Sulfates are surfactants and will strip both your scalp and your hair of their natural oils.

They also destroy the acid mantle that is a natural component of your scalp, keeping it healthy and free from bacterial infection.

Salt or sodium is abrasive, and will work to dissolve the keratin treatment in your hair. This significantly reducing the amount of time for which you’ll benefit from the keratin.

It’s best to look for shampoos that contain micro-keratins, which work to replace any lost benefit from the keratin treatment, ensuring it works for longer.

Wash Your Hair Less

Typically, after a keratin treatment, you’ll need to wait around three days before you wash your hair, so that you get the maximum benefit as the protein penetrates hair strands.

Be sure to check with your salon how long they recommend.

Once you’ve waited that time, you should also just be washing your hair less and use a leave-in conditioner that works for keratin-treated hair.

Keratin is resilient, but washing your hair often will wear it away. By minimizing hair washes, you ensure your treatment lasts longer. 

Note that washing your hair less may result in oily hair.

Use A Silk Pillowcase

Silk pillowcases are becoming a must-have item for many reasons. Not least because they minimize the development of fine lines on the skin.

But silk or satin pillowcases are also great for hair, as they reduce friction and therefore make hair less prone to damage or breakage.

Cotton pillowcases also absorb moisture, so using a silk one helps your keratin treatment last longer.

You could also try a silk satin sleep cap for even better hair care.

Don’t Use A Clarifying Shampoo

Clarifying shampoos or chelating shampoos are perfect before your keratin treatment, as they remove the build-up that naturally accumulates on your hair and scalp.

They work by opening hair cuticles in order to allow for a deep cleanse, but this will disrupt the keratin and encourage the protein to escape from hair shafts.

It’s, therefore, best to avoid clarifying shampoos after a color and keratin treatment.

Also Read: Gluten Free Hair Color: Your Best Choices for 2021

What If I Used Keratin Treatment Before Color?

Don’t panic if you’ve used a keratin treatment first! Just be sure to leave at least two weeks until you color your hair.

The keratin proteins need to have the maximum time possible to penetrate your hair strands, so don’t be tempted to try a color too early, or you might end up with uneven dye and maximum frizz.

Equally, if you’ve undergone a chemical treatment or used relaxers in your hair, it’s a great idea to think about treating your tresses to some keratin, which will restore hair to its healthiest, glossiest best.

Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using. Check our full disclaimer policy here.

Photo of author

Alice Carlill

Alice is an experienced writer and researcher with a background in the Creative Arts. She is a published poet and is currently completing her Ph.D., having worked in a variety of industries, including as a theatre dramaturg. Alice is passionate about the environment, so is always on the lookout for the best zero-waste products that are vegan and cruelty-free.