Chemical Straightening involves application of a cream or lotion to change the texture of the hair to make it straight. The level of straightness that could be achieved depends on various factors such as how curly your hair is, your desired level of straightness and the method you had used. The most common product that people use to straighten there is relaxers. Relaxers are mainly targeted towards African American community and are available in different types. Relaxers are categorically divided into two types namely Lye and No Lye. If you are planning to straighten previously treated hair make sure you do a strand test and determine whether your hair can withstand chemical hair straightening.
Lye Relaxers are the type of relaxers in which the primary ingredient is Sodium Hydroxide. Sodium Hydroxide relaxers are very effective in straightening the hair but also are very harsh on skin and scalp. While applying the sodium hydroxide relaxers make sure your stylist protects your scalp with the petroleum based jelly. If you are planning to relax your hair with the Sodium Hydroxide based relaxer always get it done at the salon.
No Lye Relaxers
No Lye relaxers are made of ingredients other than Sodium Hydroxide. This might include but not limited to calcium hydroxide, lithium hydroxide, guanidine hydroxide, guanidine carbonate etc. No Lye relaxers are bit gentler on the scalp and most of the Do-It-Yourself relaxers are made of no-lye chemicals. Some no-lye relaxers can cause build up in the hair and should be rinsed out with the chelating shampoo.
Relaxers in general can leave your hair straight for about 6-8 weeks and need to be retouched after that.
Japanese Hair Straightening
Japanese Hair Straightening also known as thermal reconditioning is a completely different form of hair straightening. Here the hair straightened thermally using flat irons after the straightening cream is washed out. This one is quite expensive in the $400 range and quite hard to do it yourself as it is a lengthy process which lasts for about 4-6 hours and can make you quite exhaustive. First step involves washing your hair and applying a protein based conditioner. You hair stylist might trim you hair if there are any split ends. Then the straightening cream is applied to your hair. The straightening cream is usually made of ammonium thio and the popular brands include yuko, shiseido, liscio, wella etc. The hair is pulled straight during the application process. The amount of time the straightening cream can be left in the hair depends on your hair type.
After the straightening cream had relaxed your curls just enough it is washed out. Now your hair is blow dried and straightened using flat irons. The hair is taken out in small sections and straightened using a quality flat iron. This is the lengthy process and can take up to 2 hrs depending on the length of your hair. After your hair has been straightened a neutraliser is applied. This will cool your scalp and wash out any cream left in the hair. For step by step process of Japanese Hair Straightening read about the shiseido hair straightening steps in detail here.
Brazilian Straightening Treatment
Another type of straightening technique that had become more popular in recent times is the Brazilian treatment. They are available under different brand names namely copolla, Brazilan BlowOut, Global Keratin, BKT etc. Most of these products use formaldehyde to seal the hair with keratin to make it smooth and silky. The results are not astonishing as thermal reconditioning but decent enough for most people.
The main advantage with this process is :
• It can be done on any type of hair- color treated, processed etc.
• It is a quick treatment which can take a maximum of only 2 hrs
• Wear off naturally, so you don’t have to worry about transition period.
The main risk with this product is it contains high leavels of formaldehyde or formaldehyde activators that is marked as a carcinogen by FDA. Hence it is banned in many other countries including Australia and Canada. Use your best judgement while deciding on the straightening option.
Above are the primary hair straightening options available in the market. Choose the best one for your hair to achieve the results you desire.