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Keratin Treatment on Gray Hair | Step-by-Step Guide

If you have gray hairs that’re always coarse or frizzy, you might want to consider a keratin boost. Keep reading to find out how to do a keratin treatment on gray hair, and show your tresses the TLC it deserves!

How Do You Do a Keratin Treatment on Gray Hair?

A keratin treatment is the best course of action for dry, wiry gray hair that feels rough and is hard to manage. It takes some time to execute, but it’ll pay off in the end when you spend less time styling your hair daily.

The keratin treatment adds shine and softness for months at a time. To DIY a keratin treatment at home, follow these simple steps:

  1. Wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo. 
  2. Blow-dry your hair until it is thoroughly dried.
  3. Part your hair into four sections.
  4. Apply the keratin treatment to all sections of hair evenly. (Follow all product instructions exactly, even if they differ from the steps listed below)
  5. Allow the product to stay in the hair for 20-30 minutes (or as instructed).
  6. Dry your hair.
  7. Use a flat iron to straighten your hair.

It’s critical to follow these steps carefully and take your time when applying a keratin treatment at home.

If you don’t think you’re equipped to do the job without causing damage to your hair, the process is best left to a professional. Before diving into a more in-depth breakdown of the steps, let’s look at the challenges of gray hair and the purpose of keratin!

What Makes Hair Turn Gray?

Image of a woman with gray hair for a piece on keratin treatments for gray hair


In order to learn the best ways to care for gray hair, we must start with the basics and understand why your hair turns grayThe hair follicles that we have under our scalps surround our hair roots.

Every follicle has a certain amount of pigment cells that have melanin inside. This is where our hair color comes from. As we get older, those pigment cells begin to die, and the hair shaft, which is the hair strand you can see above the scalp, becomes transparent because of the lack of melanin.

The result is white or grayish-colored hair. But losing the pigment doesn’t only affect the color; it affects our growth and texture, as well. 

Challenges of Gray Hair

You’ll notice a few changes to your hair when it first starts turning gray and definitely by the time it’s all over. As your gray hair grows in, you might see that it feels different from any natural colored hair that you have left. 

It’s easier to pick up on discoloration throughout your hair because it’s now transparent (gray/white). Therefore, it might start to pick up pigmentation from the environment. That means it can get bleached by the sun, certain color shampoos, and more.

The easiest way to avoid this is to wear a hat when you see direct sunlight for long periods and try not to use shampoos with artificial colors added. Now, let’s go on to the problems that the keratin treatment can address. 

Your hair is more likely to seem lifeless, coarse, and dull when it turns gray. At the age that it seems to take over, your sebaceous glands are probably less active, meaning you don’t have as much natural oil traveling down the hair shaft.

If your hair feels like straw, has lost most of its elasticity, and it seems like you can’t keep it moisturized no matter how hard you try, it might be time to try a keratin treatment. 

This consideration is crucial when you find yourself spending too much time trying to style your hair, and it just won’t cooperate. Your hair is also prone to thinning when it becomes gray, so it may be less dense than what you’re used to but very frizzy, easily damaged, and susceptible to breakage. 

What Is Keratin?

Image of a gray hair after getting a keratin treatment

atk work/Shutterstock

Our hair is composed of keratin, a type of protein that forms a barrier around our hair shaft and helps prevent stress and damage. Keratin itself does not smooth our hair, but a specific treatment that contains keratin and other chemicals can smooth your gray hair and tame the frizz.

It can also give it a boost of shine for a few months before you need a touch-up. You can get a keratin treatment performed at a salon, but it’ll cost much more than a reputable treatment that you can purchase and apply yourself.

However, permanent damage from misusing products can be costly, and it’s worth going to a professional to get it done the right way if you’re not 100 percent confident. Be sure that you apply the keratin treatment to clean hair that is completely dry. 

How to Treat Gray Hair With a Keratin Treatment in 7 Steps

Ready to get started? Follow these simple steps to treat your gray hair with a keratin treatment:

1. Wash Your Hair With a Clarifying Shampoo

Start by massaging the clarifying shampoo into your hair and working it into your scalp. Get a good lather going to clean your hair thoroughly. Allow the shampoo to stay on your hair for at least three to five minutes.

Rinse your hair and wash it once more. Ensure that you’ve rinsed your hair well because you don’t want any soap residue remaining. Do not apply any additional products to your hair, like a mask or conditioner. 

The reason to use a clarifying shampoo or anti-residue, as it’s also known, is because it strips the hair of any buildup (styling products) that might be hard to remove with regular shampoo. Getting your hair as clean as possible lays the foundation to absorb the treatment optimally.

2. Blow Dry Your Hair Until It Is Fully Dried

As you blow-dry your hair on the medium heat setting, run your hands through your hair. You will want to ensure that your hair is completely dry unless the product and its instructions say otherwise.

For example, a keratin treatment requires that your hair be completely dry.

Conversely, a Brazilian treatment requires that your hair be slightly damp—about 85 to 90 percent dry. Because “keratin” and “Brazilian” are terms used interchangeably at times, it’s imperative to look over your product’s directions.

3. Part Your Hair Into Four Sections

Take a comb or a pick and make a part down the center of your hair. Section your hair into four different sections using clips. Be sure to clip your sections tightly so that you don’t risk them becoming loose during the process.

4. Apply the Keratin Treatment to All Sections of Hair Evenly

At this point, be sure to wear old clothing and gloves. Next, take a portion of your hair that you sectioned and place the treatment on it; begin with a small amount and increase the amount until the hair is coated. 

Here’s where you want to make sure that the hair hasn’t been overly saturated with the product. Next, take a hair coloring brush or even a fine-tooth comb and work the product into each section of your hair, beginning from the roots to the ends.

After each section is coated, clip the sections again. Follow the instructions exactly as listed in the package. The particular brand and type of treatment you select will provide specific instructions on how to administer the keratin treatment.

Do not neglect to read and follow every safety precaution. You must follow the product directions should they differ from our instructions.

5. Allow the Product to Stay in the Hair for 20-30 Minutes (or as instructed)

Procure a shower cap and cover your hair with it. Let the product stay in your hair for as long as the instructions require.

6. Dry Your Hair 

It’s time to remove the shower cap and clips. Do not rinse out the product unless the direction specifically requires you to do so.

Grab your blow dryer and blow-dry your hair with the product in your hair. Depending on your product, choose between the cold and hot settings on your blow dryer during this process. 

7. Use a Flat Iron to Straighten Your Hair

This is where you have to set the temperature of your flat iron to the temperature that the product directions recommend for your specific hair type.

Next, straighten your hair in small sections about one or two inches thick once the flat iron reaches the recommended temperature. Be aware that using a flat iron that’s too hot can cause breakage and even burn your hair irreparably.

How to Maintain Your New Keratin Treatment

Image of a person maintaining her previously-gray hair after a keratin treatment


For at least three days, refrain from washing your hair. If you wash your hair too soon, you will drastically shorten your keratin treatment’s effectiveness and lifespan.

You can even take it a step further and keep your hair from being wet for a week, which is even better. If you must wash your hair before the recommended time, use dry shampoo. For at least 48 hours, refrain from using hair ties.

Also, don’t use hair clips or elastics to put your hair in a ponytail if at all possible. Refrain from tucking your hair behind your ears. If you wish to keep your hair from being in your face, use a fabric bandanna.

If you use clips or hair ties, these can cause creases to form in your hair. Wearing them loosely, however, can prevent this from happening altogether.

Try to avoid heat as much as possible to extend the life of your keratin treatment. Likewise, refrain from putting too many products in your hair as well. Wash your hair sparingly. but do it when needed. Use sulfate-free shampoo, and be sure to skip the conditioner.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you’ll find the answers to the most commonly asked questions concerning keratin treatments on gray hair:

Who should get a keratin treatment?

Virtually anyone is an excellent candidate to use a keratin smoothing treatment for their hair. This treatment is effective on all hair types: thin, dry, thick, straight, chemically damaged, wavy, straight, and curly. This treatment makes hair healthier by smoothing the cuticle, eliminating frizz, and promoting shine.

Is a keratin treatment good for gray hair?

This smoothing treatment is great for hair rejuvenation by placing keratin back into the shaft of the hair. Gray hair, in particular, will benefit from this process, mainly because it restores manageability and flexibility to aging hair.

Is a keratin treatment worth it?

Keratin treatments are sure to make your hair much more manageable, especially if your hair is thick or frizzy. However, if you constantly use heat to style your hair, you will undoubtedly notice that your hair dries faster. Keratin could reduce your drying time by about half.

Are keratin treatments on gray hair permanent?

These treatments are semi-permanent because they begin to wash out after about a month. Moreover, your hair will not return to its natural state. There’s the chance that you won’t like the way your new hair growth looks around the crown of your head.

How long does it take to do a keratin treatment in the salon?

Performing keratin treatment can last for about 3 hours. In the end, your hair will be shiny, smooth, and manageable. This hair will last you for about three months with a proper hair care regimen.

Should You Do a Keratin Treatment on Gray Hair?

If you’re having trouble managing your gray hair, a keratin treatment is the perfect semi-permanent solution. Remember to follow the steps exactly as outlined to get the most bang out of your buck.