A plethora of straightening methods are designed to turn curly locks into sleek, swishy strands. Hair relaxers, straightening irons, and keratin treatments are some popular methods. Especially curly hair often needs more than one straightening method to be bone straight. Before venturing into the world of straightening hair products, remember that all methods are harmful to your hair, even if a hair salon stylist or product label says otherwise. No amount of heat styling or strong chemicals that break your hair’s natural bonds are healthy, but there are things you can do to minimize the damage.
Also called lanthionization, hair relaxers use lye, perm salt, or other strong chemicals to weaken the structure of curly hair so that it curls less. Many people straighten curly hair this way and achieve positive results, but the instructions must be followed precisely. Leaving a chemical cream on too long can burn your skin and lead to significant hair loss. In addition, gloves must be used, or else the skin that comes into contact with the cream will be damaged; fingernails typically turn a light yellow color when exposed to the cream.
Hair irons are used both by people who have had relaxers and did not achieve the straightness they desired and people who want to straighten curly hair only on occasion. These devices should be used in combination with a heat protective spray to minimize heat damage. Use the iron on the lowest temperature settings that garner the results you are looking for and go higher only when necessary. If possible, do not iron the ends of your hair because this is the oldest, most fragile area that likely cannot withstand the heat and will split.
Also known as the Brazilian hair treatment and Brazilian blowout, keratin treatments are often touted as a safe way to straighten curly hair with no damage, though this is untrue because of its application method. It works by sealing protein into the hair with a very hot straightening iron, leading to up to 80-percent curl reduction and less frizz. Once the treatment has been administered, you will be advised not to wash your hair, pin it up, or tuck it behind your ears for several days. A major brand of keratin treatment contains the chemical formaldehyde, however, which can cause blindness, birth defects in unborn children, and, in some cases, death. While a relatively long-lasting way to straighten curly hair, researchers are not certain about the safety of using keratin treatments containing formaldehyde.