A few weeks ago, I had a keratin treatment put in my normally thick, dry, curly hair. The treatment was wonderful. My hair is still curly, but the curls aren’t as tight, and there is absolutely no frizz. For the first time in my life, I have wash and go hair. I don’t have to use gel or mouse or anything else. I can even leave the house without showering in the morning and still look like a respectable human being.
As anyone whose had this treatment done knows, the treatment comes with a lot of rules. Don’t wash your hair for 24 hours. Don’t use shampoo/conditioner with sodium chloride. Only shampoo your hair every other day. And–if you go swimming, make sure to treat your hair with a leave in conditioner before you go, because the chlorine can strip the keratin from your hair.
Well, the mikvah has chlorine, so that posed a problem. Since the whole idea of mikvah is to not have any barriers between the body and water, leave in conditioner is inherently a problem.
I debated the whole week before I went to the mikvah about what I would do. I finally decided to call a yoetzet halacha. I figured that a woman would know more about keratin treatments and leave in conditioners than a male rabbi would, so she’d be the better person to speak with. I called and left a message, and we played phone tag up until it was time for me to leave for the mikvah. So, I ended up deciding on my own to do something that made me comfortable both halachically and cosmetically:
When I started doing my prep, I wet my hair and then put the leave in conditioner in. I let it sit about 5 or 10 minutes, then I rinsed it out, using only water. Then, I did my regular prep, including washing my hair with shampoo (I used my own sodium chloride free shampoo instead of the stuff provided by the mikvah). Then, when it was time to tovel, I told the mikvah lady that I was only going to dunk once, even though I’ve been doing three. I dunked really quickly, she said kosher, and I got out. I then showered with my shampoo, again.
Overall, I’m happy with the results. The keratin stayed in my hair. I spoke to the yoetzet afterwards, and she confirmed that what I did was acceptable. I stressed about it beforehand, but I think it’s a system that will work in the months to come.
I wanted to share this with you all on the one hand because it’s an interesting look into the particular concerns of mikvah, but also because when I was trying to figure out what to do before I went, I scored the internet and I couldn’t find one place where keratin was discussed in the context of mikvah. I hope that by sharing my story, I can help another woman figure out a viable option for maintaining her keratin treatment while at the mikvah.