The Celebrated Hair Stylist is the Hot, Hot, Hot Guy for the Popular Hair-Straightening Treatment
But Women, Take Note: Arsen Knows the Not-Not-Not’s for the Complex, Multi-Layered Process
Keratin. It’s one of the most popular treatments for women looking for smoother, silkier hair. The protein-based formula is known to eliminate frizz and gives your mane softness and shine. But it’s not a simple treatment, despite what product literature might promise, and the glut of major brands offering straightening-for-all effects might easily confuse many consumers.
Though a common salon service that might require two to three hours and cost an average of $500, keratin treatments are often misunderstood.
Enter Arsen Gurgov, one of the nation’s top stylists and its most pronounced “kera-toligist.”
“Keratin is a protein that hair misses when it turns frizzy,” says Gurgov, who shot to fame for his role in the Today show’s “Ambush Makeover” series. “The Keratin treatment restores the needed protein. It’s the perfect solution for everyone’s biggest hair problem—unmanageable hair. It makes curly strands soft and sleek so you can style your hair the way you want without a salon blowout. But it’s not just the product you use, it’s actually how it’s applied.”
“One size does not fit all hair types it’s a discretionary thing. A keratin treatment requires the stylist to study your hair to assess what you really need,” says Gurgov, a top talent with two decades of experience. He works out of an eponymous Upper East Side studio—a loft-like penthouse on 60th Street between Madison and Park — where he regularly counsels his customers on the do’s and don’ts of getting a new ‘do.
Gurgov’s technique, mastered by performing thousands of treatments, is to combine a range of brands and products. Not all follicles are created equal, and blind loyalty to one particular label can get Arsen simmering as hot as his iron.
“Hair has unique qualities and requires different products,” says the stylist, matter-of-factly. “There are millions of brands, and each approaches hair uniquely. For example, if you had a great treatment and told your friend which product was used, they might want to have the same thing. But what works on you might not work on your friend. You have to look at the condition of the hair, is it healthy, or perhaps a bit brittle? Maybe they have had a previous keratin treatment that really burned their hair Everyone’s hair is so unique—a stylist must use discretion on how to create a custom treatment.”
Gurgov has researched and identified the best brands and products and is continually studying the latest industry developments.
But in addition to using top-quality products, the application process is key. After the product is combed through the strands, a flat iron is used to smooth the hair. As the temperature of some irons can reach as high as 450 degrees, this can be a dangerous part of the process.
“It’s very, very important to have a flatiron with an adjustable temperature gauge, so you have the ability to control it,” Gurgov says, noting that different parts of a head of hair often need a range of temperatures, from a simmering 350 degrees, an intense 450 degrees or a still-simmering 350.
The composition of keratin is another consideration. “Some are silicone based, some are water based,” Gurgov says. “A stylist must decide what will work best in each situation. If someone has an oily hair or scalp, a silicone-based product would be a mistake. is Also, keep in mind that all of these products contain some form of formaldehyde, and a well-ventilated application space is essential for the client and the stylist team.”
The most important no-no? Washing your hair too often.
“The less you shampoo your hair, the longer your keratin will last,” says Gurgov, who suggests washing once a week because a treatment might lose effectiveness after 24 shampoos. “Shampoo is only meant for your scalp not so much for the hair,” he adds. “Since it’s a film, the more you shampoo, the more film your remove.”
Finally, look closely at the ingredients: The best keratin treatments use paraben-free, sulfate-free formulas.