By Olivia |
Straight hair has been “in” for as long as I can remember. Except years ago, achieving the look was far from easy or safe. I remember my mom wrapping her damp hair like a turban around her head with a gazillion bobby pins so that it would dry as smooth as possible. I also remember hearing about brave (or maybe just desperate) women draping their curly, frizzy, unruly, what-have-you hair over a board and using a clothes iron to get the kinks out. Must be where the old saying “Beauty is pain” comes from! Yeow! Permanent hair straightening must have been a godsend. And for many curly girls, it still is today.Permanent Hair Straightening
There are several permanent hair straightening options. Remember relaxers? They used to use lye to break down the hair structure and beat it into submission. Lye might be a thing of the past, but the chemicals are still strong and the result is hair so relaxed it’s comatose. The treated hair remains curl-free forever; you have to cut it off.
Japanese hair straightening became all the rage in the ’90s. It was ridiculously expensive and, with relatively few qualified stylists around, it was risky business. Like relaxers (or cold smoothing treatment), the Japanese straightening process worked by breaking down the hair’s natural bonds and then rebuilding them flat. If that sounds destructive, that’s because it is. Yes, many hours later your hair will be stick straight and, if done right, it will look great, shiny and smooth. But it will also be more prone to damage, breakage and will require extra care in order to avoid hair loss or dryness.
The Japanese permanent hair straightening treatment, also known as thermal reconstruction, rebonding, retexturing, is best on healthy, virgin hair and is not recommended for black hair, which is generally more fragile than other hair types. Like relaxers, only the regrowth is touched up, usually after 3 to 6 months. A good stylist would turn you away if your hair was damaged as the Japanese process can make damaged locks look worse if it doesn’t just break off to begin with. Another down side is that if you don’t like the result, if you find it’s too flat and lifeless, you’re stuck with it. This is a permanent hair straightening treatment, and unlike permanent hair removal, the word permanent actually does mean permanent.
Permanent Hair Straightening Alternatives
There are hair straightening shampoos and conditioners and other topical products that make manual hair straightening, that is, with a blow dryer and/or flat iron, easier. Certainly, anyone who regularly wields a flat iron in their battle against frizzy, curly hair should at the very least use a thermal protector to shield their mane from extreme heat.
Another alternative to permanent hair straightening is the Brazilian keratin treatment. Like the Japanese process, this treatment uses a flat iron to seal in a keratin solution and smooth out the cuticle of the hair. But it differs in that the structure of your hair remains unchanged, no breaking down of the cortex, or basically gutting the strands out. The keratin treatment leaves your hair intact. What it does is coat each strand almost like an armor that makes your hair smoother and stronger. It even helps repair damaged hair.
The Brazilian blowout, as it is sometimes called, is good for every hair type, colored, highlighted, damaged, black hair, previously straightened. Your hair will be straight afterwards, but when you wash it out, usually three days after the treatment, you will still have a wave. Curls are softened but not eliminated. Still, straightening is much easier to do after getting the keratin treatment and your hair won’t frizz up in humid weather. Because this is a surface treatment that does not in any way change your hair, it will eventually wear out and your hair will return to its original state. And because it is not damaging, touch-ups are done all over, from roots to ends. If you avoid sodium (stay out of the ocean!), use Brazilian-safe hair products and get it done every three to four months, your hair should still have residual keratin on it and will be fortified even more.