When you want to smooth curls, waves, or kinks permanently, chemical hair straightening may be the answer. While it’s generally considered safe, there are some important things to keep in mind before you do it.
What is Chemical Hair Straightening: How it works
Chemical hair straightening transforms curly hair into straight hair by breaking the natural chemical bonds found in keratin -- the hair’s natural way to hold curl. When the bond is broken, it forces the hair to make a new shape. In this case, the hair becomes straight.
Types of chemical straightening
There are several types of chemical hair straightening:
- Thermal reconditioning—This type of straightening is designed for loose or medium, but not kinky curls. It can cost between $500 and $1,500 per treatment.
- Keratin treatments—This is a temporary treatment that usually lasts two to four months depending on how fast your hair grows, how often you wash it, and how curly or kinky your natural texture is. Treatments usually cost between $300 and $600.
- Relaxing—This treatment can soften tight, kinky or course curls. Treatments cost between $50 and $250 per service.
Is it safe?
Just like how applying color to your hair, using curling irons, and blow-drying is considered damaging to the hair, chemical straightening can be as well. However, hair can look and feel healthy after treatment when combined with the proper hair care products
containing the right ingredients to replenish the hair.
Chemical hair straightening should only be performed by a licensed hairdresser, who can determine if your hair is suitable for a straightening treatment. Hair can be seriously damaged, or the scalp or skin can be severely burned during the process – so you definitely want to find someone who knows what they’re doing.
Over-processed hair often can’t endure the harsh ingredients found in most straightening treatments—if applied, the hair will likely
Tell your hairdresser about EVERY chemical service you’ve had, including henna treatments. It can make the difference between a successful hair straightening and a disastrous one, and become further damaged and result in severe breakage. At the consultation, it’s important to give the hairdresser detailed information of any chemical treatments you currently. After they evaluate your hair, they should perform a strand test. A strand test is essential to see how your hair reacts to the treatment and to determine the treatment strength.
Chemical hair straightening strips away hair’s natural oils and moisture, leaving it feeling dry and brittle after the post-salon glam starts to wear off. Regular deep conditioning—even once a week—can help restore hair to its pre-chemical service luster. Try using Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep conditioning
mask by Briogeo to help re-balance moisture levels and prevent further breakage. With naturally-derived ingredients like argan oil, avocado, and essential vitamins, the treatment promotes healthy shine and luster, while helping to replenish hair strength.
Chemical hair straightening requires a regular touch up just like hair color does. New hair growth will be curly or wavy, while the ends remain straight. Never re-apply chemical straightener to hair that’s already had chemical straightener applied as it can cause serious breakage.
To straighten or not to straighten?
We totally understand that some unruly hair types can be difficult to maintain without a little taming help from a chemical straightening treatment. Understanding how your hair may react to the treatment by getting a consultation ahead of time is key. And if you do decide to take the plunge, know that much of the damaging effects can be reversed through regular deep conditioning and limiting the use of heat tools.
If you’ve ever chemically straightened your hair, we’d love for you to share your stories and advice with our community. Tell us about your experience and things you do to keep your hair healthy.