Michelle Obama’s GREAT Hair: Are Keratin Treatments The Secret?

Whether curly or straight, Michelle Obama’s hair always looks fantastic — even in DC’s super-humid air. Are keratin treatments the reason? 

Can keratin treatments help the rest of us easily create these same looks at home?

Michelle Obama's natural hair is somewhere in the Type 4s. Keratin treatments appear to have been a factor in her White House styles. Uncurly.com

Early pictures show Michelle Obama’s hair as somewhere in the Type 4s. By nature, it would be difficult to smooth, susceptible to breakage, frizz, and shrinkage, and would be more matte than shiny. Yet her White House-era photos show shiny, smooth, frizz-free hair which also grew noticeably longer during that period.

Did Michelle Obama transition from relaxers by using keratin treatments?

According to Johnny Wright, Michelle Obama’s stylist for more than a decade, Mrs. Obama had used relaxers up through the 2008 Democratic National Convention. But by 2015, “she had been natural for years.”

Did she transition from relaxers  to keratin treatments? To us, it appears she did for several reasons. First, photos from the era show her hair behaving the way Type 4 natural hair does when it’s under the influence of keratin. Second, her stylist makes a number of statements that appear to support the use of keratin.

Indicators of keratin on Michell Obama’s hair

  1. She TRANSITIONED WITHOUT A BIG CHOP. Sometime between 2008 and 2015, she stopped using relaxers but managed to retain hair that had years of relaxer damage. This alone is a strong indicator of keratin treatments, which were originally created to restore relaxer-damaged hair. (Their smoothing and frizz-control properties were discovered later.)
  2. Her hair has GROWN LONG WITHOUT BREAKAGE, even the relaxed sections. Keratin treatments are the most powerful means available to structurally strengthen (and therefore lengthen) hair. More than any other product or protective styles, they eliminate Type 4 hair’s propensity to break due to the shape of its molecular bonds.
  3. Her hair is STYLES QUICKLY WITH MINIMAL HEAT (see her  stylist’s remarks, below).
  4. Her hair DOESN’T FRIZZ, POUF, OR SHRINK (not even her bangs, which is the ultimate test) and without heavy, greasy product;
  5. Her hair has a POLISHED SHEEN rather than a matte look.
  6. The cuticle looks smooth rather than rough, as it was in early photos.

Her stylist speaks keratin-friendly language

Johnny Wright, her stylist from the Chicago days through the White House years, hasn’t disclosed exactly which products he uses on Michelle Obama’s hair, but what he does say points strongly to the use of keratin treatments.

He needs to minimize heat and work fast

Wright says he creates most of Mrs. Obama’s styles with a flat iron. When a stylist regularly flat irons a Type 4 head, he’ll try to minimize heat any way possible. Add to that the First Lady’s schedule and there’s pressure to work really fast.

A high-end professional like Johnny Wright knows that keratin treatments are the single best way to minimize heat exposure and styling time. It’s a fact that keratin-treated hair takes 2-4 times less blow drying and flat ironing than hair without.

He needs structural strengthening for long growth

To grow out Mrs. Obama’s relaxed hair as well as eliminate the breakage common to Types 3 and 4 natural hair, he’d also want to add keratin’s structural strengthening to support longer growth.

He talks ‘revolution’ using keratin treatment buzzwords

The most compelling evidence that Wright relies on keratin treatments is found in his remarks about the “revolution” against relaxers and for styling versatility and healthy hair:

“Women are starting to see what type of damage chemicals have caused their hair over the years, and they’re really starting to embrace the fact that they can be versatile…They can wear it curly. They can wear it straight…They can do it all…That’s the revolution…” Johnny Wright, Ibid.

Michelle Obama straightens hair with a keratin treatment This is keratin-friendly language, loud and clear. The revolution he speaks of — style versatility with zero chemical damage — can only be had with keratin treatments. There simply isn’t any other product or process that delivers them both powerfully enough to constitute a revolution.

Keratin treatments make natural hair easy

Johnny Wright is not saying that simply “going natural” by quitting relaxers is enough to get hair which “does it all” without chemical damage. Yes, it will prevent any further chemical damage but, it won’t produce the styling versatility he sees coming about.

Smoother looks need help  Most natural curl patterns don’t smooth out easily, the reason relaxers get used in the first place. When relaxers are taken out of the mix, other help is needed for straighter styles, and keratin treatments are ideal for this purpose.

They form a temporary keratin coating on the hair causing it to air-dry looser and to respond to heat by quickly smoothing out. This coating also blocks humidity and perspiration from causing frizz, pouf, and shrinkage, making the smoothing last.

Beyond simply avoiding relaxer damage, keratin treatments strengthen, restore, and deep-condition hair to like-new, allowing it to grow longer.

Natural hair worn curly can be very high-maintenance The “curly” part of the revolution Wright talks about can bring its own set of styling difficulties:

  1. Taking a day or more to dry;
  2. Shrinking to a fraction of its full length;
  3. Frizzing in humidity or sweat;
  4. Breaking easily;
  5. Not blending well due to mixed curl patterns.

Keratin treatments minimize these issues:

  1. Keratin reduces water retention so hair dries in one-third the time;
  2. It ends shrinkage — curls air-dry looser, longer;
  3. It repels humidity to prevent frizz, pouf;
  4. It stops breakage with a protective coating;
  5. It blends textures by minimizing pattern differences.

Keratin treatments fully enable the revolution Johnny Wright is talking about: versatility, easy straight styles, easy curly styles, no chemical damage. No other product or treatment offers the same benefits. And their conditioning is so powerful that even hair with severe heat, bleach, or relaxer damage can participate, often without a big chop.

In the final analysis, Michelle Obama’s various hairstyles, her chop-free transition from relaxers, and the words of her stylist, Johnny Wright persuade us that keratin treatments are an integral part of her hair regime. Likewise, they would be helpful for anyone with Type 3 and Type 4 natural hair who’s trying to create similar styles at home.

What’s your take?