Hair straightening is a technique of hair styling to flatten and straighten the hair to get a smooth, sleek, and streamlined appearance. It is very popular among men and women of all ages and races. However, women are the ones who enjoy going for hair straightening more than men. In most cultures across the globe, a woman’s hair is held in high regard and is a sign of beauty. This is why women go through a great deal to ensure their hair looks perfect. Straight hair is considered very attractive as it screams order and beauty. Nonetheless, before taking any hair treatment, it is necessary to be aware of its pros and cons.
What Are the Types of Hair Straightening?
Hair straightening is mainly of two types, chemical or permanent hair straightening and non-chemical or temporary hair straightening. Both types have pros and cons, which are discussed in detail in this section.
1. Chemical Hair Straightening - This type of hair treatment method uses some form of solution applied to the hair to straighten them. There are three major ways to straighten hair chemically.
Keratin Treatment - It is also known as ‘hair smoothening’ or ‘protein treatment.’ It helps to make the hair frizz free and look perfectly straight. It involves the application of keratin (hair protein) solution followed by the usage of a blow dryer and flat iron to seal in the product and straighten the hair. This treatment lasts for about three months, depending on the thickness and texture of the hair. A keratin treatment can contain unsafe levels of a carcinogen called formaldehyde that can cause side effects such as scalp irritation, itchy eyes, and throat irritation.
Hair Rebonding - This hair treatment uses chemicals and heat to provide smooth and straight hair. This procedure gives straight hair by breaking the bonds in the hair shaft first and then rebonding them in a straighter texture. The effects of this treatment last longer and make unmanageable frizzy hair look put together. It can last up to six to 12 months, depending on the texture of the hair and aftercare. The use of heat and chemicals can cause hair damage, such as a flaky scalp and dry and brittle hair strands.
Hair Relaxing - This treatment uses extreme heat and chemicals to provide poker-straight hair. Chemical relaxers break the disulfide and hydrogen bonds in the hair, and the hair strands are reconfigured into a straight texture with a flat iron. It is a permanent treatment, and it lasts until the hair grows out. Relaxers can cause enough hair damage from mass hair breakage to overstretching of hair shafts.
2. Non-chemical Hair Straightening - Also known as temporary hair straightening, it is a way to straighten hair using electric devices that will not last long. The ways of temporary hair straightening include:
Straightening Iron - It is the most commonly used temporary method of hair straightening. Hair straighteners use heat that breaks the hydrogen bonds in the hair and then reforms them in a straight texture. Such straight hair can be easily reversed by humidity and water. They last for a couple of hours in a non-humid environment. Hair straighteners are not good for hair health, but hair cuticle damage can be minimized if used with a heat protectant spray.
Blow Drying - This is quite similar to hair straightening using a flat iron. While washing the hair, the hydrogen bonds in the hair get broken. Blow drying the wet hair reshapes the hair strands and makes them look straight. This is a less damaging method of hair straightening but is not long-lasting. Hair protectant products and serums can be used to have a silky and shiny finish hair with blow dryers.
Straightening Brushes - These are electrically powered, wide-bristled devices that use heat to straighten the hair while drying them. The results of this method are less satisfactory. Uncontrolled heat from such devices can cause damage to hair cuticles and hair breakage due to tugging on wet hair. However, it is a convenient and easy method to straighten hair.
What Are the Advantages of Hair Straightening?
The popularity of hair straightening methods is increasing day by day as everybody is very conscious about their looks and beauty. The major advantage of hair straightening is that the hair looks silky, smooth, and really straight. Using permanent hair straightening methods makes straight hair last longer for about six months. It is a great solution for frizzy and curly hair. This is one main reason why women opt for hair treatments. Hair straightening is a procedure for all, and any person with a sizable amount of hair can go for it. Silky smooth, frizz-free hair is definitely very attractive and is guaranteed to attract a few stares wherever they go.
What Are the Disadvantages of Hair Straightening?
Although a major population accepts hair straightening, it has some disadvantages worth knowing and considering. Temporary hair straightening methods do not cause much serious damage to hair if done properly. But permanent hair straightening methods do have some serious side effects. One of the most common problems after permanent hair straightening is hair breakage. The chemical solutions used during permanent hair straightening work by damaging the hair so that it lies flat and releases the natural curl.
Hair straightening results in too many split ends and hair thinning. The chemicals used during the procedure are not good for hair and strip away the natural oils present in hair. The hair protectant spray used before straightening may not completely protect the hair from damage. Also, permanent hair straightening is an expensive procedure and requires high maintenance.
Formaldehyde, a carcinogen, is an ingredient in most chemical solutions used for straightening. In many studies, it has been shown that the formaldehyde levels in solutions are high enough to pose health problems to customers. Inhaling the fumes of formaldehyde can cause exposure to side effects such as respiratory difficulties, skin redness and irritation, irritation to the nose and eyes, and increased chances of breast cancer.
Another study has found that women who have used chemical hair straightening products were more likely to develop uterine cancer compared to women who did not use these products.
Hair straightening is a common and popular way to have frizz-free and straight hair. Since it has more disadvantages than advantages, it should not be done frequently. Going for temporary hair straightening methods is better as they cause less hair damage. It is great to have perfectly straight hair, but more than that, it is important to have healthy hair.