Hair straightening – To do or not to do?
Are you tired of your curly hair that never seems to stay in place? Or do monsoons turn your usually fine hair into a frizzy nightmare? If the answer to both questions is yes, then hair straightening is one option you might have considered. But most stay away from it, thinking it will harm their hair and in some ways, their fears aren’t unfounded so. We’ve tried to answer some of the more common queries about the procedure.
What is hair straightening?
It is a hair styling process wherein hair is straightened using many tools and methods. The process can be temporary or permanent depending on your preference. There are a thousand ways to straighten those untamed curls but you get to decide which method is best suited for you depending on how tight your curls are.
How do they do it?
For hair that’s not very curly, there are plenty of straightening lotions available in the market (you may not find all of them in Indian markets though). The oils in these creams coat the hair and prevent it from curling. A good blow dry makes the job easier. Obviously, this might work if your hair is wavy at most and not curly.
Hot irons are probably the most popular product in the market for straightening hair and with good reason since they do work on very curly hair too. But the method is temporary and will last till your next hair wash. Make sure you choose the right one – if you have to shell out a little bit extra for a ceramic, titanium or tourmaline plate, go ahead. If you have short hair or slightly wavy hair, opt for a smaller width plate and if it’s long and thick, go for the wider ones.
Another not-so-familiar product in the market is called chemical relaxers – they contain high pH chemicals which break the chemical bonds that are responsible for the way your hair is – wavy, straight or curly. But as the name suggests, these are chock full of chemicals and the ones that really cause harm to hair and skin – calcium hydroxide, ammonium thioglycolate, guanidine carbonate and lithium hydroxide.
If temporary is not your thing then there are products that can permanently change the way your hair looks. For instance, Japanese thermal reconditioning involves using relaxing chemicals, neutralization treatments, deep conditioning and repetitive high-temperature ironing. It’s a long process and costs big bucks but you’ll have to visit the parlour only for re-growth touch up. For upto three days after the treatment, you can’t wet your hair or tie it in a ponytail.
Another method more popular abroad but also highly risky is called Brazilian keratin treatment. The process involves several chemicals and hours of ironing but the issue is the use of formaldehyde as an active ingredient, which is also a carcinogen. Although the method magically transforms your hair, it doesn’t come without risks. Needless to say, you have to pay a hefty sum for this.
To straighten or not, that’s the question
Searching for a beauty treatment that doesn’t come with any attached risk is a futile activity. Hair straightening is no different. There are many changes that you may not have bargained for and you might have to live with, especially if it’s a permanent method.
Generally speaking, if your hair is coloured or bleached, permanent treatment methods can harm your hair. So make sure you tell your stylist about every treatment you’ve previously had. And speaking of stylist, don’t attempt to try permanent treatments on your hair at home – it will never work. And make sure you opt for a reliable hair stylist, even if you have to spend a tad more. Inexperienced stylists can damage your locks – incorrect proportion of chemicals, too little or too much ironing. This could lead to dissatisfaction and leave you with numerous issues like breakage, thinning or split ends.
And don’t ever attempt to ape an online tutorial because every woman’s hair is different. Only an experienced stylist will be able to tell you exactly what your hair needs or can put up with.
Another issue with hair treatments is the touch ups every few months. And the in-between period is the awkward time when your hair is just starting to grow out but isn’t long enough to straighten.
Financially speaking, it’s not only the money you spend for the treatment, but also after the treatment. Most stylists will advise you on a special shampoo, conditioner or hair spa to make sure your hair retains its straightness and these cost extra too.
Chemicals, chemicals all the way?
There are a lot of websites that will tell you about natural ways of straightening your hair such as using coconut water and lime mixture, milk, hot oil, multani mitti and many more. But the authenticity of these methods is questionable more often than not. If you are especially apprehensive about chemical treatments, you can try some of these remedies to see if they work.
Having said everything, it depends on how much you want to get rid of your curls! If you really want ramrod straight hair and are willing to go with permanent treatments, that’s ok too. But make sure weigh the pros and cons well before you go ahead.