Are you looking for something that will tame your frizzy hair? Does your hair poof out of control when you brush it? If you’re tired of struggling with hair that seems out of control and unmanageable, there is help. Depending on how much control you want to gain, or how straight you want it, you have choices that will leave it without frizz and either completely straight, or with gently curling or wavy hair that’s much more manageable. There is a big difference in the treatments, the chemicals used and how long they last, however. One is a straightening treatment, the other is a smoothing treatment.
Traditional Keratin Treatments
If you want ram-rod straight hair, then opt for the traditional keratin treatment, also know as a Brazilian Blowout. Although keratin is the descriptive word used in this treatment, it is not the keratin that straightens your hair. Keratin is a protein, a structural component found in hair, skin and nails. The real straightening chemical in traditional keratin treatments is formaldehyde. It may not be listed in the ingredients because it’s a gas, and it’s formed by chemical reaction from other ingredients that are in the package. There are a large number of chemicals that can release formaldehyde, ranging from glycol, formalin and methanal, to methanediol. So, don’t be fooled by the claim that the treatment is formaldehyde free. To straighten your hair completely, formaldehyde is necessary to break the bonds that give shape to your hair.
The straightening treatment involves completely saturating your hair with a formaldehyde releasing chemical, a process that takes about 20 minutes, then blow drying your hair and finally straightening it with a flat iron. For the treatment to be effective, you can’t touch your hair for about 3 days. No clipping up, no pony tails, no washing, nothing that could dent the hair. The treatment lasts for up to 5 months and gradually grows out.
The down side of straightening treatments is the formaldehyde itself. It is a known carcinogen and can cause respiratory problems. If you have no more than 3 treatments per year (4 is the maximum you should have), you probably have no reason to be concerned. Check to be sure the treatment is provided in a well ventilated area.
It should be noted, also, that results can vary. Some lightening may be possible, though not common, and no more than a shade of demi, toner or semi transparent color. The degree of straightening varies, depending on a number of factors, such as brand used, how it as applied, temperature of the flat iron and porosity of the hair.
Though you may only be getting the straightening treatment 3 or 4 times a year, and it may be perfectly safe for you, the same cannot be said for the stylist, who may be doing that same service many more times in the same period. That’s why some salons, out of concern for their employees, and for their clients, will not offer straightening treatments. For those salons, smoothing treatments is a very attractive alternative.
Smoothing treatments are 100% formaldehyde free – with none produced, making it safe for everyone. No odor is apparent, either. The chemical works by permeating the hair with amino acids and proteins, and filling gaps and ridges in the cuticle. The hair is not just coated.
Though not as powerful as the keratin straightening treatments, smoothing treatments can last 2 to 3 months or even longer. Treated hair can be nearly straight, or with gentle curls and waves, depending on individual characteristics and treatment, but it will be frizz free, much more relaxed and more manageable. Flat ironing is easier and safer.
The 2 step treatment begins with a shampoo, and then the product is applied to damp hair and allowed to process for about 10 to 20 minutes. Then, without rinsing, your hair is blow-dried and then flat ironed a section at a time. You’re free to go home until the second step. After 24 to 48 hours you’ll return to have special shampoo and conditioner applied, and a final blow out.
The result is nothing short of amazing. Your hair will be softer, silkier, with relaxed curls, no frizz and totally manageable. Blow-outs and flat ironing will be faster and easier.
Talk to your stylist if you are having problems with frizz and smoothing seems to be a good option. She’ll review the process with you and answer any questions you may have.