Kérastase Turns 50
Photo: Kerastase launch on rue Royale, 1964.
2014 marks the 50th birthday of Kérastase, one of my favourite hair care brands.
Both luxurious and efficacious, Kérastase products are, in my opinion, the crème of the crop of hair care. Founded in France in the 1960s, when Catherine Denueve’s glossy blonde locks dominated French New Wave films, Kérastase is now a global brand sold exclusively at select salons in 67 countries and online.
As someone who has worked in the trenches of the hair industry for a pretty decade, I can contest to their quality. I never once had to do an exchange or refund for a Kérastase product, even despite the high price point. Kérastase products always delivered on their promise of restoring and recovering brittle damaged hair. In fact, Kérastase was known as a industry lifeline for clients with hair disasters.
Flashback to 2004: I was working the desk at a busy salon and spa. I had a Rachel cut with wispy bangs and auburn foiled highlights. Whenever a customer was in need of major hair repair (e.g. they were noticing breakage from too much bleaching or excessively dry hair after a sun getaway), our stylists would send them home with a customized Kérastase plan that always included one of their famous conditioning masks.
And they always came back for more.
Case in point: Leila from six years ago. She had waist-long platinum blonde hair that felt like straw. She came into the salon desperately seeking products that would seriously help her strands recover from the bleach beating she’s been giving it for the past year. She told me that she had used almost every other line we carried in the salon (we had about nine), and was not satisfied. Discerning customers intimidated me back then, but because I had watched the stylists confidently sell Kérastase I felt comfortable doing the same. So I recommended the Nutritive line for her (Bain Satin 2, Serum Nutri-Sculpt, and Masque Nutri-Thermique) based on the popularity of the products with other blonde clients.
A month or so later, Leila came back to not only stock up on all of the products but also got a hair cut with one of our senior stylists. And a very long and healthy relationship forged: She became a loyal client for several years, coming in every Saturday morning for a blow dry with a Kérastase deep conditioning treatment. Through colour after colour and a phase of Brazilian straightening, Leila never strayed from using Kérastase at home to maintain her results. Kérastase took her hair from porous to glorious.
Today when I ask a stylist about their opinion on Kérastase, everyone seems to have their own Leila stories. I recently took my Nutritive products and sunscreen spray with me on my Caribbean honeymoon, and they reminded me of Leila.
Kérastase isn’t just good for bleached blondes. My hair is the exact opposite, fine brunette.
Before using Kérastase, my shower was filled with a mish mash of drugstore shampoos and conditioners that, in retrospect, all worked fine…in the beginning. But when the elements got harsh – whether it was a change in hair colour, weather; or a bout sickness or excessive stress – my hair did not obey.
Static flyaway hair was the norm for me during the winter months, and in the summer sleeping with my hair in a braided ponytail was the only way to get some lift and texture into my lifeless locks.
It wasn’t until when I started experimenting with more colour, blow-drying, and even hair extensions, that I started to notice that my hair would not grow healthfully past my collar bone. I had various concerns back then: brittle ends, colour that got brassy quickly, and lack of volume.
I started using Kérastase regularly, starting with their shampoos and masks, alternating between their Nutritive line (Masquintense is one of the iconic prods) and Chroma Riche for colour-treated hair. Sure, at $40-$60 per bottle, my Kérastase reliance did put a dent on my student budget back then, even with my 20% work discount, but it was well worth it. I noticed longer-lasting colour after a month of use, and after three months my hair felt stronger and more resilient to heated tools and styling (I did a lot of back combing in my youth).
My Essentials Now
Kérastase just launched a new thickening range that has my mane all over it. Called Densifique, their three products are now a part of my essentials below.
1. Densifique Bain Densité, $40
This cleansing shampoo gives a good lather and best of all, it’s enriched with three key thickness-boosting ingredients: hyaluronic acid to give limp hair bounce and plumpness, ceramides to strengthen weakened hair fibers, and gluco-peptides to repair past aggressions (read: curling iron, bleach, and sun).
2. Densifique Masque Densité, $59
Usually when I use a mask in place of a conditioner, my hair gets super soft and smooth but falls flat. This mask is different though, it has a light gel texture so it doesn’t weigh down my strands and contains the re-densifying ingredients noted above. I noticed a significant difference after just the first use, my hair felt less parched and porous and remarkably voluminous when I let it air dry. Never has that happened!
3. Densifique Mousse Densimorphose, $42
In the past, I relied on sticky hair mousses that contained a lot of dryness-causing alcohol to get the volume and texture I crave (the kind that lasts all weekend), but at the cost of having greasy hair the next day. This mousse is great because it delivers the expected lift without weighing it down. Overall it feels like a cleaner mousse.
4. Elixir Ultime, $54
Glossy hair is good, and nothing delivers that look better than oil. I never quite go on board with the straight up Argan oil obsession. At best, Argan oil made my brittle ends look healther by acting like a clear top coat but at worse, I would get tiny breakouts on the nape of my neck where my oiled-tipped hair would fall. This Kérastase oil, created in 2010, uses not one but four types of oils (Maize, Argan, Camellia, and Pracaxi) that fuse into hair fibers and gives off the coveted glossy glaze without feeling heavy.
5. Ciment Thermique, $43
Hairstylists always preach that priming damp hair with a heat-protective styling product before blow-drying will prevent breakage and split ends. But not a lot of women I know actually abide by this cause it costs more time and money. Try Ciment Thermique and you might see why this heat-activated leave-in conditioner has had me hooked since 2007 (the year it debuted). It strengthens, hydrates, and seals – resulting in smoother hair that is easier to style with less fly-aways and susceptibility to static. Bonus: the intoxicating grapefruit scent makes the extra step worth it.
Have you used Kérastase hair care? If so, tell me your favourites in the comments section below.