Why Does Keratin Burn My Eyes? Reasons & Preventive Measures

If you’ve suffered eye irritation from a keratin treatment, one question you’d find yourself asking is, “why does keratin burn my eyes?”.

The quick answer is simple: the keratin protein on its own isn’t capable of burning your eyes. There are other ingredients present in keratin treatment products that can cause this.

In this article, I’ll explain why this happens and the possible alternatives to try out.

CHECK: Keratin Complex Flat Iron Reviews

Key Takeaways

  • Formaldehyde is hazardous to the eyes, and there can be extreme eye irritation in some cases.
  • There are formaldehyde-free products that you can opt for.
  • Preventing keratin from getting into your eyes is possible.

Why Does Keratin Burn My Eyes?

Keratin burns your eye because of the high levels of formaldehyde in the keratin hair products used by your hairstylist.

The hair straightening products used in a keratin hair treatment comprise a chemical mixture containing a list of ingredients with potential health risks, especially when their concentrations are high.

Formaldehyde is an active ingredient in keratin hair-smoothing products, which also improves hair texture during a Brazilian keratin hair treatment.

Lady vigorously rubbing her eyes under title Why Does Keratin Burn My Eyes?

However, excessive formaldehyde exposure poses potential health risks and causes several reactions from the body, including skin irritation, chest pain, eye irritation, nose irritation, throat irritation, and sore throat (1).

When formaldehyde levels in keratin treatment products are in minimal concentrations, the safety issues and health risks won’t be an issue.

Formaldehyde is vital in formulating keratin treatment products for frizzy hair, curly hair, wavy hair, and other hair types needing hair smoothing treatments.

The main problem with using formaldehyde in keratin treatment is when the concentration gets too high.

Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas primarily used to preserve dead bodies.

The use of formaldehyde shouldn’t cause adverse reactions when applied to hair since the hair shaft is grossly composed of dead cells.

However, when the concentration gets too high, the gas becomes released. At the same time, the hair treatment product is being used and can cause an allergic reaction in any part of the body that it makes contact with, especially the skin, eyes, and respiratory organs.

How Serious is the Risk of Formaldehyde to the Eyes?

Formaldehyde is hazardous to the eyes, and there can be extreme eye irritation in some cases.

According to research, formaldehyde irritates the mucous membrane and can cause conjunctivitis and lacrimation (2) (3).

This is worthy of note, especially for those who love keratin treatments for eyelashes, i.e., keratin lash lifts.

Keratin lash lifts help to boost natural lashes and improve the curl pattern, particularly of your upper lash.

This is a sensitive lash service, as lash artists must ensure that the formaldehyde fumes in the keratin solution don’t get into your eyes.

Here is a video on eyelash keratin treatment.

@jazelle_makeupart ?? Keratin Lash Lift ?? It accomplished by giving the illusion of eyelash length. This makes the eyes appear more open, results in a more awake and youthful appearance. It gives you the look you would see after using lash curl or better. Real Lashes Keratin Lash Lift is a treatment to lift and boost your natural lashes. No lash extensions needed. Long-lasting The lash lift effect lasts between 5 and 8 weeks, which is the natural life cycle of an eyelash. Enhanced look Keratin Lash Lift Tint alters and boosts the color of the eyelash so that your natural lashes look fuller. ____ ??Click “BOOK NOW” to schedule your next appointment! ? 10351 Santa Monica Blvd. Suite 100 RM 32 Los Angeles, Ca 90025 ? Text ONLY 818-850-2261 ? LoveSickCosmeticsla.com ? [email protected] ??‍♀️ Refer a friend and receive $10 OFF #lovesickcosmetics #JazelleMua #LashLift #lashlifting ♬ Efecto – Bad Bunny

Also, formaldehyde is carcinogenic, meaning that it can cause cancer. The danger of formaldehyde exposure is not only an issue of concern for those who want to have keratin treatments but also for hair salon owners who have frequent exposure to formaldehyde.

Watch this video to learn more about formaldehyde exposure hazards:

What Formaldehyde-free Options Can I Use Instead?

There are formaldehyde-free options that you can opt for, and they include Magic Sleek and Marcia Teixeria keratin treatments.

Before I go into detail about these keratin treatments, let me mention that it’s pretty challenging to get keratin treatment products that are genuinely formaldehyde-free.

Most of the keratin products labeled as free of formaldehyde are not genuinely free of formaldehyde and may contain several formaldehyde-related ingredients.

Some formaldehyde-related ingredients in most products’ keratin formulas include methylene glycol, formic aldehyde, methyl aldehyde, and methanol.

Some products also contain preservatives that can release formaldehyde fumes, and these preservatives include imidazolidinyl urea, benzylhemiformal, diazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15.

Now, let’s look at our formaldehyde-free options.

  • Magic Sleek

Magic Sleek is a non-toxic hair-straightening treatment product. It contains two ingredients that can straighten and smoothen your hair: Argan Oil and tannin.

It is devoid of any harmful chemicals that can cause adverse reactions from the body.

  • Marcia Teixeria

Marcia Teixeria keratin treatment is another treatment without safety issues. It doesn’t contain formaldehyde or any formaldehyde-related ingredients, so it doesn’t release formaldehyde fumes while it is being used.

You can also consider the following alternatives to keratin treatment if you want straighter hair and do not want a keratin treatment.

  • Tourmaline hair-smoothing treatment
  • Hot oil treatment
  • Japanese straightening

READ MORE: Keratin Conditioner Side Effects

How to Prevent Keratin From Getting Into Your Eyes

Preventing keratin from getting into your eyes is possible and depends primarily on the level of expertise of your stylist.

If your stylist is skilled enough, especially if you have a keratin lash lift, you shouldn’t worry about keratin getting into your eyes.

However, during a proper keratin hair treatment, there are other measures you need to take to prevent keratin from getting into your eyes. Let’s look at some of them.

Wearing lab goggles

I recommend using lab goggles when having a keratin treatment as it will help prevent the formaldehyde fumes from getting into your eyes.

lady wearing lab googles under title Why Does Keratin Burn My Eyes?

This is important because you may be unable to close your eyes throughout the process.

Even if you attempt to close your eyes, remember that formaldehyde can irritate the skin, and your eyelids can be at risk of irritation.

Ensure proper ventilation

During a Brazilian keratin hair treatment, ensure that the ventilation in the salon is in optimal condition

A huge salon under title Why Does Keratin Burn My Eyes?

There should be adequate ventilation so the formaldehyde release can escape and not become too concentrated in the room.

What Medical Precautions Should I Take Immediately Keratin Burns My Eyes?

The best thing to do if you get an eye burn from a keratin treatment is to see your doctor.

However, before seeing your doctor, you should be able to take some measures to ease the adverse effect of the irritation and inflammation on your eyes.

I recommend seeing your doctor because formaldehyde, the primary active ingredient in keratin treatment that causes eye burn, can have severe consequences, as mentioned above.

red eyes under title Why Does Keratin Burn My Eyes?

It can irritate your eye mucous membranes and cause conjunctivitis and lacrimation (3).

To prevent such results, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible if your eyes burn after a keratin treatment.

For immediate preventive measures, after the keratin treatment solution enters your eyes, you should immediately apply cool water to your forehead and allow the water to flow through your eyes for at least 15 minutes.

You might have to endure the pain symptoms while the 15 minutes last, and you’re trying to keep your eyes open. After this process, make sure you see your doctor for proper treatment.


Can too much keratin be harmful?

Too much keratin can make your hair brittle and shed more than usual.

How should I sleep after keratin treatment?

lady showing How To Sleep With Keratin-Treated Hair

After a keratin treatment, you should sleep with your hair straightened horizontally. Also, ensure you use a silk pillowcase.

How toxic is a keratin treatment?

Keratin treatment is toxic to the degree to which chemicals such as formaldehyde (a carcinogen) are concentrated in the products used.


I hope that, by now, your question “why does keratin burn my eyes” has been answered.

Please, do well to consider the alternative products recommended above. They will save you a lot of stress and possible health complications.

And if you ever find yourself suffering an eye burn after a keratin treatment, ensure you apply the precautions mentioned above.

Beautiful model with sensitive eyes under title Why Does Keratin Burn My Eyes?


1. Toxicology NRC (US) C on. EFFECTS on HUMANS. National Academies Press (US); 1980. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK217652/

2. Morrow GL, Abbott RL. Conjunctivitis. American Family Physician. 1998;57(4):735-746. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/1998/0215/p735.html

3. Mutch Aberdeen J. THE BRITISH JOURNAL- of OPHTHALMOLOGY JULY, 1944 COMMUNICATIONS the LACRIMATION REFLEX*. Accessed September 15, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC510379/pdf/brjopthal00699-0001.pdf