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It’s not just our skin (or maturity) that changes as we age. As we get older, the structure of our hair changes and can often appear less lustrous.
Hair Botox is one treatment that may improve dull, brittle hair. You might have heard of Botox for under eye wrinkles and forehead creases, but for hair? It turns out that Botox for hair probably isn’t what you think.
Treatments start at $20/month
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What is hair Botox?
Despite the name, this treatment doesn’t involve injections and isn’t what you traditionally think of when it comes to Botox.
Hair Botox is a marketing term used by companies selling hair care products. These nourishing treatments claim to fill thinning hair and make it smoother, like Botox injections are used to “smooth” skin and eradicate face wrinkles. But unlike skin injections, Botox for hair is a deep conditioning treatment used to repair damaged hair fibers and reduce frizz.
How does hair Botox work?
Despite the nickname, hair Botox doesn’t contain the botulinum toxin found in Botox. Instead, hair Botox treatments work by coating hairs and filling in any broken or damaged strands.
Over-the-counter (OTC) Botox hair products include ingredients like ceramides, caviar oil, argan oil, vitamin E, and biotin. Many of these ingredients are types of fat. Our hair naturally contains different fats, which play a critical role in keeping it healthy and strong (Marsh, 2018).
While it all sounds great on paper, research in this arena is limited. For example, biotin for hair has been studied as an oral supplement but not a topical treatment (Alyoussef, 2020). And because hair Botox is a name covering a range of treatments rather than an individual product, it’s difficult to make a conclusive statement about its effectiveness.
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Hair Botox vs. Brazilian blowout
Both hair Botox and Brazilian blowouts are treatments used to achieve smooth, lustrous locks. The difference is in the ingredients.
Also called a keratin treatment, a Brazilian blowout uses a potentially harsh chemical called formaldehyde while hair Botox doesn’t. There are health concerns associated with formaldehyde, including eye issues, respiratory tract infections, and skin irritation (FDA, 2022; Rovira, 2016). Chemical straighteners like the kinds used in Brazilian blowouts can also cause hair follicle damage and irritation to the scalp, including eczema, burns, and inflammation (Hatsbach de Paula, 2022).
On the plus side, the keratin used in Brazilian blowouts has been shown to strengthen hair. One study found that hair damaged by bleach was smoother, stronger, and thicker after a keratin treatment (Basit, 2018). But there are limitations. Chemical treatments with keratin seal in hydration but don’t help with split ends (Sanad, 2018).
Another difference between these treatments is the effects. Keratin changes the pattern of curly hair and irons it out, whereas hair Botox does not. Ultimately, keratin treatments relax your texture while hair Botox focuses on the quality of hair, no matter the texture.
Who can use hair Botox?
Hair Botox is considered safe for all types of hair and can address issues like:
- Frizzy hair
- Split ends
- Damaged hair
- Dull or brittle hair
If you don’t have any issues with your locks, there may not be much of a need to seek out hair Botox treatment.
What to expect from a treatment
If you’re getting hair Botox done at a salon, the hairstylist will start by shampooing your hair and applying the conditioning treatment.
It’s left in for 20 minutes or longer (some allow it to sit for up to 90 minutes) before being washed out. Your hair is then dried and styled as usual.
One benefit of hair Botox is you can do it at home. Apply the product following the same process above (and always follow the instructions), and you should see the same results. Unlike Botox for skin, you’ll ideally see the effects of a hair Botox treatment almost immediately. The results can last up to three months.
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Hair Botox cost
Salon treatments can be expensive, costing up to $300. It’s a good idea to ask about the cost before booking, so there are no surprises. At-home products are typically more affordable and range in price from $35–150.
Overall, hair Botox is a safe and effective conditioning treatment designed to improve the quality of your hair. Unlike keratin treatments, Botox for hair doesn’t affect the structure of your locks.
After a keratin treatment, you should expect to see smooth, frizz-free hair that’s stronger and less prone to breakage. While the benefits of Botox hair treatments haven’t fully been proven, it is believed to have fewer risks than a Brazilian blowout and can be done from the comfort of home.
- Alyoussef, A. (2020). Comparative study of the online over-the-counter hair loss products. Journal of Dermatology Research and Therapy, 6(1), 077. doi:10.23937/2469-5750/1510077. Retrieved from https://www.clinmedjournals.org/articles/ijdrt/journal-of-dermatology-research-and-therapy-ijdrt-6-077.php?jid=ijdrt
- Basit, A., Asghar, F., Sadaf, S., & Akhtar, M. W. (2018). Health Improvement of human hair and their reshaping using recombinant keratin K31. Biotechnology Reports, 20, e00288. doi:10.1016/j.btre.2018.e00288. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2215017X18302017
- Goodier, M. & Hordinsky, M. (2015). Normal and aging hair biology and structure ‘aging and hair.’ Current Problems in Dermatology, 47, 1–9. doi:10.1159/000369594. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26370639/
- Hatsbach de Paula, J. N., Basílio, F. M., & Mulinari-Brenner, F. A. (2022). Effects of chemical straighteners on the hair shaft and scalp. Anais Brasileiros De Dermatologia, 97(2), 193–203. doi:10.1016/j.abd.2021.02.010. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0365059621003147
- Marsh, J. M., Whitaker, S., Felts, T., et al. (2018). Role of Internal Lipids in Hair Health. Journal of Cosmetic Science, 69(5), 347-356. Retrieved from https://europepmc.org/article/med/30767883
- Nagase, S., Kajiura, Y., Mamada, A., et al. (2009). Changes in structure and geometric properties of human hair by aging. Journal of Cosmetic Science, 60(6), 637-648. Retrieved from https://europepmc.org/article/med/20038352
- Rovira, J., Roig, N., Nadal, M., et al. (2016). Human health risks of formaldehyde indoor levels: An issue of concern. Journal of Environmental Science and Health, 51(4), 357–363. doi:10.1080/10934529.2015.1109411. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10934529.2015.1109411
- Sanad, E. M., El-Esawy, F. M., Mustafa, A. I., & Agina, H. A. (2018). Structural changes of hair shaft after application of chemical hair straighteners: Clinical and histopathological study. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 18(3), 929–935. doi:10.1111/jocd.12752. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jocd.12752
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2022). Hair smoothing products that release formaldehyde when heated. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-products/hair-smoothing-products-release-formaldehyde-when-heated
Dr. Steve Silvestro is a board-certified pediatrician and Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.