Could a chemical-free beauty treatment really work?

By Alex Apatoff
Updated June 19, 2014 05:04 PM

What is it: Cezanne Perfect Finish Keratin Smoothing Treatment, which gives you smooth, frizz-free hair without formaldehyde or harmful chemicals, according to the makers

Who tried it:
Andrea Lavinthal, Style and Beauty Director

Why I did it: Because my only other option was to continue wearing my hair in a sad-looking bun for the rest of the summer

Level of difficulty: None for me, but 6 for my boyfriend who had to tolerate the smell of my hair for two weeks (“it’s like you stuck your head in a bag of Cheetos”), until it eventually faded

Andrea Lavinthal

There are two types of girls: those who can air-dry and those who cannot air-dry. I’m the latter. In fact, if I were to write a memoir, I’d call it “I Don’t Want to Get My Hair Wet: The Andrea Lavinthal Story”. Surprise: My beachy waves take a whole lot of effort to look effortless (see what I mean?). I won’t bore you with the step-by-step process but lets just say it can involve up to three different heated tools and half the styling products in Sephora. And that’s on a low humidity day.

During the summer months when the forecast is the dreaded “hazy, hot and humid,” my fine, naturally curly hair resembles cotton candy no matter how many anti-frizz products I use. I end up pulling it back into a sad bun, where it remains, defeated, until the fall. I’ve tried keratin treatments in the past, but they always made my hair so straight I looked like Axl Rose (to quote my friend Amber), not to mention the fact that they contain formaldehyde, which is scary stuff.

But a friend in the beauty industry raved to me about her experience with Cezanne, swearing it reduced frizz without flatness or formaldehyde (though I’m skeptical that any smoothing treatment that really works can be truly chemical-free), so I went to Lauren Thompson, a stylist at the Nunzio Salon on the Upper East Side, to try it out. I knew it was different immediately when we didn’t have to wear masks over our mouth and nose (seriously, I had to do that once) or have a fan blowing on us because the noxious fumes were making our eyes water (very common with smoothing treatments).

After two hours of shampooing, drying, rinsing, blowdrying and flat-ironing, my hair was super shiny (yay!) and super straight (uh-oh). Again, Lauren assured me that once I washed it, some of my natural curl would return, only without the frizz.

I’m happy to report that she was right. This photo was taken the first day I washed my hair. And guess what? I let it air-dry! And it was humid out! It almost looked like it does after my time-consuming, product-heavy routine. Now I have to come up with a new title for my memoir. I’m thinking “Can We Go a Little Blonder?: The Andrea Lavinthal Story.”

The Verdict: Like any too-good-to-be-true beauty treatment, Cezanne has a few drawbacks, albeit small ones. As I mentioned above, I’m wary of the whole chemical-free claim, since it seems unlikely that my hair could go from curly to straight with just a blend of botanicals. Also, the stuff has a slightly unpleasant scent that lasted for nearly two weeks. Lastly, my hair goes totally straight (but not flat) if it even looks at a blowdryer. So if I want to rock my preferred wavy style, I have to air-dry. But it sure beats that sad bun!