Glossy, silky and super smooth. Who hasn’t dreamed of hair like this? For many of us, the reality is living with curly, kinky or frizzy hair.
But that is only until more recently because permanent hair straightening treatments have become much more popular and easily accessible.
These treatments can give us gorgeous, manageable, soft and easily styleable tresses. There are other benefits, too, such as less time spent drying and hair that looks healthy and strong.
Is a permanent hair straightening treatment the solution to all your hair woes? Let’s answer some of those all-important questions about permanent hair straightening treatments so you can understand exactly what it entails and make the best decision for your hair.
What exactly is permanent hair straightening?
Our hair structure determines how curly, straight or frizzy our hair appears. To achieve straight hair, your hair stylist will apply a chemical to your hair that will alter the structure of your natural hair.
Hair is made of a protein called keratin. This natural protein forms long chains in the hair, and the formation of these chains controls whether our hair is curly or straight. The chemicals used in the permanent hair straightening treatments change the way the chains of keratin are held together so that instead of being held in a coil, the keratin is unraveled and becomes straight. This treatment, in basic terms, rebuilds the structure of the hair.
There are a variety of hair straightening treatments available, but they all have a similar process in common. The stylist applies the chemical to the hair and then straightens the hair using an appliance. The heat from the straighteners or the hair dryer triggers the chemical to act on the keratin bonds within the hair and change the arrangement of those bonds.
You must not kink or bend the hair for a certain amount of time following the treatment. The amount of time varies depending on the procedure you choose. After one of these processes process, which can take up to six hours in the salon, you will walk away with permanently straight hair.
What are the different treatment types?
Japanese hair straightening
The treatment that hit the market first was the Japanese hair straightening treatment. This treatment will give you poker-straight locks that will stay that way until the hair grows out.
It takes around four to six hours to complete. You should only have this treatment done in a professional salon, as it is very easy to cause permanent damage to the hair with the powerful chemicals involved.
The Japanese system is not ideal if you would like to keep a little volume in your hair or to have wavy hair on occasions.
Brazilian hair straightening
The Brazilian treatments are also known as keratin straightening. This method is more of a smoothing treatment that eliminates frizz so that your hair will be more manageable.
The salon uses keratin to coat the hair with protein that is then heat bonded to the hair. This cover of keratin fills in and perfects any rough areas on the hair shaft, making the hair appear as if it is in excellent condition and much smoother and glossier. The hair will not be completely straight — with the Coppola keratin treatment, it will be around 90 percent straighter, but there will still be body and perhaps wave.
The oldest hair straightening treatments on the market are chemical relaxers, which are popular for afro hair and allow the hair to have a looser curl or coil. They are similar in many respects to the Japanese system but are not permanent and so will not cause damage to the natural curl in the hair.
What are the benefits?
Permanent hair straightening offers the ideal long-term solution for getting straight hair. No more daily wrestling matches with frizzy and uncontrollable hair. You will dramatically reduce time spent styling your hair, and the results that you see will last much longer.
Think about how much time you spend every day trying to persuade your hair to do exactly what you want. Maybe an hour a day, which is 30 hours per month. Over a six-month period, this adds up to a staggering 150 hours.
Instead of this wasted time, you could have the same or even better results from one four-hour salon visit. You will save time, you will save money on all the styling products and you will have much less damage done to your hair than daily hot ironing or blow-drying.
Another massive benefit of permanent hair straightening is your hair’s new ability to resist humidity. Hot, humid weather wreaks havoc on frizzy and curly hair. When you straighten your hair with flat irons, it may remain straight while you are indoors, but if the weather is hot or you are participating in sports, gardening or even walking the dog, your hair will be frizzy and messy once again within a short amount of time.
Permanent straightening systems curb this bad hair behavior and prevent humidity from having an adverse effect on the hair. Your permanently straightened hair will remain silky smooth and straight even on a humid day.
Are they safe?
There are strong chemicals used in these treatments, true. For the keratin treatment to work and straighten out the hair, the stylist uses formaldehyde to saturate the hair shaft.
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, and the funeral industry uses it as a preservative for cadavers. It can cause headaches, vomiting, eye damage and fatigue in salon workers.
The chemicals should not touch the skin, only the hair, but accidental exposure to the skin can cause blisters and burns. The great news is that there are formaldehyde-free keratin treatments available, so we do not need to worry about this dangerous chemical.
Is the treatment good for my hair?
Yes, keratin treatments are good for your hair. They replace missing areas of the hair shaft with a natural protein that is absent. Because of this, the industry sometimes refers to these keratin treatments as thermal reconditioning treatments. The old hair is made complete again just like new hair, with no splits or cracks in the shaft, so the hair will be smooth and natural.
What treatment system is best for me based on my hair type?
Our hair types are not the same, so all straightening treatments shouldn’t be the same. You need to determine the best hair straightening treatment for your hair.
It is critical to choose an experienced stylist who can correctly evaluate what type of hair you have. This means they will be able to inform you which treatment will suit you best.
If your hair is damaged, porous or you have had your hair lightened, your hair will need a milder treatment. This will also be the case if your hair is particularly thin or sparse.
If your hair is in good condition and you have not treated it with bleach, then you will most likely be able to tolerate a regular treatment.
For hair that is very thick, very curly or completely virgin — meaning it has not undergone any form of previous chemical processing — then you might need to use a stronger formulated treatment.
How long does a treatment last?
The Japanese permanent straightening treatment has the longest duration of any of the straightening treatments. The hair the stylist treats with chemicals will be straightened permanently — it will not return to a curly state. However, the new growth at the roots will not be straight and will grow in the normal curly or frizzy manner.
This means that many people will want to have frequent re-touches on the new hair growth to prevent their hair being both curly at the roots and straightened through the lengths. Clients report they need to have their roots straightened every three months, and the entire straightening treatment lasts around one year.
The keratin treatment lasts around three months. This amount of time can be much less, though, if you use shampoo or hair products that contain sulfate because the salt damages the keratin that is bonded to the hair.
It also depends on the rate of hair growth and the activities you enjoy. Swimming either in the ocean or chlorinated pools is not good for your freshly treated hair.
What are some alternatives to permanent straightening treatments?
Are you still unsure that a permanent straightening treatment is the right choice for you? There are plenty of alternative ways to get the straight and sleek hair that you want.
If brushing and blow drying your hair doesn’t work, try using a flat iron. It’s an especially good choice if you opt for one of the modern versions that use steam and conditioning oils or models infused with micro keratin molecules that are released into the hair shaft when heated.
Of course, using flat irons will only give you straight hair until your next wash. If you prep your hair correctly with a cuticle smoothing shampoo and conditioner and also use a hair oil to protect your hair from the heat of the irons and humidity, you should get good results, especially if you iron each section two or three times. Salon perfect? No, but still a fairly fuss-free option. Ask your stylist to show you how to flat iron your hair at home for that just-stepped-out-of-the-salon look. Your stylist can also recommend suitable products you can use for your hair type and cut.
This product will straighten your hair, but you do not have to use it with heat. This means it causes less damage to the hair and is, therefore, suitable for people with bleached, thin or dry and brittle hair.
The cream has a very thick consistency, so it works better for those with thick hair, as it could make thin hair look greasy. You simply need to wait until your hair is about halfway to being dry, comb the cream through your hair and allow it to air dry completely. Your hair should stay straight until the next wash, but this depends on humidity.
Ask your hairstylist to show you how to apply and use this product, so you can avoid having greasy hair that looks weighed down.
Wrapping the hair
This traditional afro hair straightening method is catching on with those who have naturally curly or frizzy hair.
Wash your hair and wait until it is around half dry. Using a fine comb, begin to comb the hair around the head in a circle below the crown. Once you have smoothed all the hair, secure the wrap with bobby pins, or try one of these innovative methods of hair wrapping for great results.
For extra straightening power, you could use smoothing products on the hair before you wrap it.
Alternative salon treatments
Amino-acid treatments infuse the hair shaft with protein and leave the hair soft and frizz free. The treatment leaves the hair with body but reduces frizz.
There is an alternative to the keratin treatment that uses cashmere instead, known as Cashmere Luminance. The procedure uses lanolin from sheep wool and sodium sulfite, a gentle chemical that is used in winemaking. This method also uses cellulose gum to smooth the hair and proteins derived from silk to make the hair shiny.
Deep conditioning treatments
Hair that is dry and in bad condition is much more likely to be frizzy and difficult to manage. Once hair is in good condition with the cuticles on the hair shaft closed and running the same way, the hair is much shinier and more manageable.
For some people, a deep conditioning treatment with ingredients such as avocado, olive oil or egg yolks is enough to cure their hair worries. It might take several deep conditioning treatments over the course of weeks to return the hair to its virginal glory, but this may be all you need to create frizz-free hair.
Experience the amazing benefits of professional in-salon deep hair conditioning for smooth, shiny, stronger and healthier hair.
There are plenty of options available to those of us searching for perfect hair. Your choice will depend on your budget, hair type and personal preference, but rest assured you do not need to struggle with frizzy, unmanageable hair anymore!