Straight hair is in. And people with curly or wavy hair will pull, blow, iron, treat or do practically anything else to get straight hair. That can’t be good for your hair health, right? Some treatments aren’t even good for your personal health as Del over at Are You A Beauty recently reported in her piece about the Brazilian hair straightening system.
We here at the Beauty Brains thought it would be helpful for you to know the 7 most common ways to straighten your hair and the pros and cons of each.
Seven Ways to Straight Hair
1. Hairdressings & Silicone Creams. This is a classic hair product based on oily materials like petrolatum, mineral oil, and lanolin. Silicone creams work the same way but contain materials like dimethicone or cyclomethicone. Apply the product all over your damp hair and comb straight. The oils coat your hairs preventing them from curling up when they dry. The most famous of these types of products is VO5 Hairdressing.
Evaluation: Incredibly effective on all types of hair. Non-damaging and relatively inexpensive. The downside is that your hair will feel greasy, get dirtier faster, and can look weighed down. The effect will last until you wash out the product.
2. Brushing and blow drying. As hair dries, it tends to curl up. This is a direct result of the water content and the chemical bonds existing in the hair fiber proteins. If you can hold your hair straight with a comb and blow dry it, it will hold that position. It’s a bit like using an iron to straighten the wrinkles in clothes.
Evaluation: This method is simple, moderately effective but depends heavily on the skill of the person doing it. It’s much easier for a stylist to do than for you to do it on your own hair. It is slightly damaging, will not work on extremely curly hair, and frizzes out in humid weather. It will leave your hair feeling more natural than hairdressings or styling products. So, if you don’t want to spend much money, get a good hair dryer and trying combing out those curls. It may take some time but it should work.
3. Flat Iron. If you have really curly hair and the blow-drying + combing method doesn’t work, try using a flat iron. After washing your hair, you comb it and use a flat iron to get it dry and straight. It uses the same principle to get your hair straight but it is more intense and effective on nearly all hair types. Here’s a short video showing how to straighten hair with a flat iron.
Evaluation: Flat irons will work with almost any hair type. If you know what you’re doing it can be done relatively quickly. Unfortunately, it is more damaging to your hair than a blow dryer and will frizz out when humidity is high. Once you’ve bought your flat iron it’s a relatively inexpensive way to get a straight hair style.
4. Styling products. If you don’t like the greasy feeling of hairdressings and don’t want to take the time required for flat ironing, then styling product straightening might be for you. These products coat the hair with polymers that rigidly hold the hair straight. Things like hairsprays, gels, mousses, and putties can all be used.
Evaluation: Styling products are effective but require some skill in applying and shaping your hair. They will hold the hair straight better than the blow drying or flat iron methods. The effect will last only until the products are washed out. The primary downside is that your hair may not look and feel natural.
5. Brazilian Hair straightening. This method is the hottest new hair styling treatment in salons. It even made it into a story in the New York Times. Your stylist applies a keratin protein formula and uses a flat iron to get your hair straight. Theoretically, the protein will crystalize on your hair and keep it in a straightened state. You are then encouraged not to wash your hair as frequently because you’ll reverse the effect.
Evaluation: This procedure works but at $150 it hardly seems worth it. If you wash your hair a few times the protein will come right off and your hair will return to it’s natural, curly state. There’s also the issue of a significant amount of Formaldehyde being included in the formula. It shouldn’t be a problem for you but I certainly wouldn’t want to be the stylist who gets exposed many times a day. This procedure works but you can get the same effect using a flat iron, styling products and less frequent hair washing.
6. Japanese straightening system. This is a more permanent way to remove the curls from your hair. At >$500 per treatment, it is the most expensive of all the methods outlined here. For the Japanese straightening system the stylist applies a special formula all over the hair. Then they use a flat iron and neutralizing solution to get the hair straight. With proper care the effect should last for 6 months.
Evaluation: The high price of this procedure has kept most people away from repeat procedures. While we haven’t been able to see the exact formula the description of how it’s applied sounds suspiciously like a hair relaxer. The fact that a neutralizing solution has to be used suggests a bond-breaking, chemical reaction. Kudos to the inventor for convincing people to spend that much money on a less harsh version of a hair relaxer. This procedure will permanently get rid of those curls but it’s expensive and incredibly damaging to your hair.
7. Relaxer. If you want straight hair there is no more effective method than getting your hair relaxed. In this procedure a caustic chemical is applied to your hair and a chemical reaction occurs. The hair is then physically straightened and a neutralizing formula is used to reform the chemical bonds in the new straight shape. You can even do this to your own hair at home using a product like Affirm relaxer. Careful because the chemicals in these formulas can be dangerous.
Evaluation: There’s no doubt about it that this method will permanently take the curls out of your hair. It will also be more effective and cheaper than either the Brazilian or the Japanese systems. However, it will also be the most damaging treatment you can do to your hair. Your hair will break more easily and will feel dry. Eventually, your curly hair will grow back so you’ll need to continue to relax hair if you want it straight.
We get so many questions here at the Beauty Brains demonstrating that everyone wants what they don’t have. People with straight hair want curly hair, those with curly hair want it straight. Fortunately, clever cosmetic chemists have come up with ways to give people whatever they want.
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