via The Beau­ty Brains

Peo­ple with curly or wavy hair will pull, blow, iron, treat or do prac­ti­cal­ly any­thing else to get straight hair. That can’t be good for your hair health, right? Some treat­ments aren’t even good for your per­son­al health as Del over at Are You A Beau­ty recent­ly report­ed in her piece about the Brazil­ian hair straight­en­ing sys­tem.

We here at the Beau­ty Brains thought it would be help­ful for you to know the 7 most com­mon ways to straight­en your hair and the pros and cons of each.

1. Hair­dress­ings & Sil­i­cone Creams. This is a clas­sic hair pro­duct based on oily mate­ri­als like petro­la­tum, min­er­al oil, and lano­lin. Sil­i­cone creams work the same way but con­tain mate­ri­als like dime­thicone or cyclome­thicone. Apply the pro­duct all over your damp hair and comb straight. The oils coat your hairs pre­vent­ing them from curling up when they dry. The most famous of the­se types of prod­ucts is VO5 Hair­dress­ing

Eval­u­a­tion: Incred­i­bly effec­tive on all types of hair. Non-dam­ag­ing and rel­a­tive­ly inex­pen­sive. The down­side is that your hair will feel greasy, get dirt­ier faster, and can look weighed down. The effect will last until you wash out the pro­duct.

2. Brush­ing and blow dry­ing. As hair dries, it tends to curl up. This is a direct result of the water con­tent and the chem­i­cal bonds exist­ing in the hair fiberpro­teins. If you can hold your hair straight with a comb and blow dry it, it will hold that posi­tion. It’s a bit like using an iron to straight­en the wrin­kles in clothes.

Eval­u­a­tion: This method is sim­ple, mod­er­ate­ly effec­tive but depends heav­i­ly on the skill of the per­son doing it. It’s much eas­ier for a styl­ist to do than for you to do it on your own hair. It is slight­ly dam­ag­ing, will not work on extreme­ly curly hair, and frizzes out in humid weath­er. It will leave your hair feel­ing more nat­u­ral than hair­dress­ings or styling prod­ucts. So, if you don’t want to spend much mon­ey, get a good hair dry­er and try­ing comb­ing out those curls. It may take some time but it should work.

3. Flat Iron. If you have real­ly curly hair and the blow-dry­ing + comb­ing method doesn’t work, try using a flat iron. After wash­ing your hair, you comb it and use a flat iron to get it dry and straight. It uses the same prin­ci­ple to get your hair straight but it is more intense and effec­tive on near­ly all hair types. Here’s a short video show­ing how to straight­en hair with a flat iron.

Eval­u­a­tion: Flat irons will work with almost any hair type. If you know what you’re doing it can be done rel­a­tive­ly quick­ly. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it is more dam­ag­ing to your hair than a blow dry­er and will frizz out when humid­i­ty is high. Once you’ve bought your flat iron it’s a rel­a­tive­ly inex­pen­sive way to get a straight hair style.

4. Styling prod­ucts. If you don’t like the greasy feel­ing of hair­dress­ings and don’t want to take the time required for flat iron­ing, then styling pro­duct straight­en­ing might be for you. The­se prod­ucts coat the hair with poly­mers that rigid­ly hold the hair straight. Things like hair­sprays, gels, mouss­es, and put­ties can all be used.

Eval­u­a­tion: Styling prod­ucts are effec­tive but require some skill in apply­ing and shap­ing your hair. They will hold the hair straight bet­ter than the blow dry­ing or flat iron meth­ods. The effect will last only until the prod­ucts are washed out. The pri­ma­ry down­side is that your hair may not look and feel nat­u­ral.

5. Brazil­ian Hair straight­en­ing. This method is the hottest new hair styling treat­ment in salons. It even made it into a sto­ry in the New York Times. Your styl­ist applies a ker­at­in pro­tein for­mu­la and uses a flat iron to get your hair straight. The­o­ret­i­cal­ly, the pro­tein will crys­tal­ize on your hair and keep it in a straight­ened state. You are then encour­aged not to wash your hair as fre­quent­ly because you’ll reverse the effect.

Eval­u­a­tion: This pro­ce­dure works but at $150 it hard­ly seems worth it. If you wash your hair a few times the pro­tein will come right off and your hair will return to it’s nat­u­ral, curly state. There’s also the issue of a sig­nif­i­cant amount of Formalde­hy­de being includ­ed in the for­mu­la. It shouldn’t be a prob­lem for you but I cer­tain­ly wouldn’t want to be the styl­ist who gets exposed many times a day. This pro­ce­dure works but you can get the same effect using a flat iron, styling prod­ucts and less fre­quent hair wash­ing.

6. Japan­ese straight­en­ing sys­tem. This is a more per­ma­nent way to remove the curls from your hair. At >$500 per treat­ment, it is the most expen­sive of all the meth­ods out­lined here. For the Japan­ese straight­en­ing sys­tem the styl­ist applies a spe­cial for­mu­la all over the hair. Then they use a flat iron and neu­tral­iz­ing solu­tion to get the hair straight. With prop­er care the effect should last for 6 months.

Eval­u­a­tion: The high price of this pro­ce­dure has kept most peo­ple away from repeat pro­ce­dures. While we haven’t been able to see the exact for­mu­la the descrip­tion of how it’s applied sounds sus­pi­cious­ly like a hair relax­er. The fact that a neu­tral­iz­ing solu­tion has to be used sug­gests a bond-break­ing, chem­i­cal reac­tion. Kudos to the inven­tor for con­vinc­ing peo­ple to spend that much mon­ey on a less harsh ver­sion of a hair relax­er. This pro­ce­dure will per­ma­nent­ly get rid of those curls but it’s expen­sive and incred­i­bly dam­ag­ing to your hair.

7. Relax­er. If you want straight hair there is no more effec­tive method than get­ting your hair relaxed. In this pro­ce­dure a caus­tic chem­i­cal is applied to your hair and a chem­i­cal reac­tion occurs. The hair is then phys­i­cal­ly straight­ened and a neu­tral­iz­ing for­mu­la is used to reform the chem­i­cal bonds in the new straight shape. You can even do this to your own hair at home using a pro­duct like Affirm relax­er. Care­ful because the chem­i­cals in the­se for­mu­las can be dan­ger­ous.

Eval­u­a­tion:  There’s no doubt about it that this method will per­ma­nent­ly take the curls out of your hair.  It will also be more effec­tive and cheap­er than either the Brazil­ian or the Japan­ese sys­tems.  How­ev­er, it will also be the most dam­ag­ing treat­ment you can do to your hair.  Your hair will break more eas­i­ly and will feel dry.  Even­tu­al­ly, your curly hair will grow back so you’ll need to con­tin­ue to relax hair if you want it straight.

We get so many ques­tions here at the Beau­ty Brains demon­strat­ing that every­one wants what they don’t have.  Peo­ple with straight hair want curly hair, those with curly hair want it straight.  For­tu­nate­ly, clev­er cos­met­ic chemists have come up with ways to give peo­ple what­ev­er they want.

Wow. See­ing that all the­se treat­ments affect the hair neg­a­tive­ly I guess it’s a mat­ter of pick­ing your poi­son :/ Ladies, have you tried any of the­se treat­ments? How did they work out?
And be sure to check out The Beau­ty Brains for more amaz­ing hair­care arti­cles.

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­lis­te, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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97 Comments on "7 Hair Straightening Methods Evaluated"

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Sheila

As a cau­casian wom­an with nat­u­ral­ly curly (not wavy) hair, I would like to cor­rect a mis­con­cep­tion. LOTS of us have curly, frizzy hair.
I live in Flori­da and my hair is very prob­lem­at­ic. If I could find a safe way to get rid of my frizz, I would love it!

Todd

That’s no rev­e­la­tion to me Sheila.But there’s a huge diffrence between frizzy and kinky, which would be your ulti­mate night­mare. If cau­casian wom­en across the world were to sud­dend­ly wake up with kinky hair, they’d prob­a­bly com­mit sui­cide.
This is part of the self­es­teem issues that many “black” wom­en deal with.

Babs B

Hey ! I use this hair straight­en­ing tech­nique — look at #3 “Blow Dry Tech­niques” — http://www.shielo.com/styling/straight-hair.html

I fol­lowed the steps exact­ly 6 months ago and OMG — its my favorite tech­nique now and gets my hair so STRAIGHT! Try it…

Ciara Elaine

Here is the link to my tech­nique! I like my hair BONE straight and I am a nat­u­ral girl. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozJ3uOt8fyI

Olympia Sherron
my hair is not straight it is very thick curly & soft (i luv it) & ive ben nat­u­ral for 8 months now i dont use heat on my hair at all and it is nat­u­ral (i let it airdry after wash­ing it) 4 me, using dam­ag­ing heat or chem­i­cals to force my hair to be some­thing that it is not by destroy­ing and chang­ing my nat­u­ral curls is just wrong self-love is about lov­ing your self not try­ing to make your hair look like some­one else’s nat­u­ral hair tex­ture (straight) if the major­i­ty of white wom­en start­ed buy­ing fake hair (wigs/weaves)… Read more »
ShiningStar
You are sim­ply say­ing what I have known all along. Black peo­ple have been taught and brain­washed since the days of slav­ery that their dark skin tone, hair tex­ture, and facial fea­tures were con­sid­ered ugly and that is embed­ded into their psy­che and has been their mind­set about them­selves, Many Black peo­ple will not admit this truth and some may not even be con­cious of this. They will swear that they are not brain­washed but yet they steadi­ly straight­en their nat­u­ral hair, or wear long weaves in an attempt to get the Cau­casian look. Dur­ing the days of seg­re­ga­tion, for… Read more »
Kyla
You know, Olympia, its com­ments and mind sets like yours that real­ly keep racism and the ensu­ing stu­pid­i­ty alive. How about this; wom­en of col­or can do what­ev­er the hell they want to their hair with­out it being an issue. I am mixed and have strug­gled with my hair for decades. It’s dry, frizzy, tan­gles eas­i­ly and is basi­cal­ly unman­age­able (on a very basic lev­el, not just an aes­thet­ic lev­el) . Dis­cov­er­ing flat irons and Brazil­ian treat­ments have been a God send for me. It’s not because I want to look white or what­ev­er oth­er sil­ly ide­al you’re attempt­ing to ral­ly… Read more »
Todd
Olympia: Your mes­sage is noble, and I believe for the right rea­sons you are express­ing con­cern. But real­ly, part of your argu­ment is weak, and unre­al­is­tic. You say for instance, “If” white wom­en were to to cer­tain things to emu­late black women’s hair then. We’ll that’s not hap­pen­ing because shinier, move­able hair became syn­ony­mous with Amer­i­can beau­ty in the 80’s and over­whelmed the afro’s of the 70’s for “blacks”. That trend will not be reversed, espe­cial­ly when all the major pub­lic females have signed on to straight­en­ing, includ­ing the first lady. I would even project to say the “solu­tion” will… Read more »
Sophia Joseph
Your com­ment applies to only one group of black wom­an and girls out there, I have been going nat­u­ral for a year after being a chem­i­cal girl for 14years I decid­ed for the change , I don’t know what curl type your hair may be, but have you ever con­sid­ered how hard and time con­sum­ing it is to main­tain a Afro or locks, even sim­ple corn­rows or plaits done with your own hair. Yes our hair is beau­ti­ful but for many also restrict­ing, hav­ing a tamed hair style helps many work­ing peo­ple be able to do their dai­ly hair rou­ti­nes faster,… Read more »
alma

Thank-You. Going nat­u­ral is not easy.

Cece Danielle

Dit­to and it’s not the attempt to wear it straight thats the prob­lem, its the men­tal­i­ty behind it.

Bri
What about the old school press and curl?  I’ve always been nat­u­ral but my mom pressed my hair since i was about 5. I know it sounds young but my mom was sin­gle and I had a LOT of thick hair and was a tomboy. She was also a cos­me­tol­o­gist so took real­ly good care of it. Any­way My tex­ture and curl pat­tern remained the same through­out that time to what it was before my mom start­ing using the press­ing comb (old school cast iron etc.) Now that I use a flat iron my curl pat­tern is pret­ty much gone, which… Read more »
Ray

What about hot combs, roller­sets, band­ing, or wraps? Seems like some meth­ods were miss­ing…

Jack

Side note, are peo­ple spam­ming? ^^ “Get free stuff and make easy mon­ey” That post and anoth­er ear­ly one make no sense.

Get free stuff and make easy money

Tremen­dous issues here. I am very hap­py to look your post. Thanks so much and I am tak­ing a look for­ward to con­tact you. Will you kind­ly drop me a e-mail?

Michaelanae
I used three prod­ucts to straight­en my hair and the results were amaz­ing! I did not suf­fer any dam­age because of the chem­istry of the prod­ucts I used. I used Moroc­can Argan oil sham­poo and con­di­tion­er from organix to wash and con­di­tion. Then I put nuNAAT Brazil­ian Ker­at­in Inten­sive Hair Mask deep con­di­tion­er on by rak­ing my fin­gers through the whole length and full extent of my hair so that my hair was com­plete­ly sat­u­rat­ed. I let it sit on my hair for 15 min­utes under a dry­er. I washed out the deep con­di­tion­er thor­ough­ly. I tow­el dried and then… Read more »
Jar Mac

I was writ­ing a arti­cle about this on Lef­ta sto Inter­net today.

Anonymous

I don’t believe that they orig­i­na­tor of the arti­cle were mak­ing any sug­ges­tions, I believe that they were just pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion for who so ever to choose which ever opti­ion an indi­vid­u­al may want to try. Some­times I just have to shake my head!!!!!!

Lana Dee
I still relax my hair but since my hair holds heat (heck, it holds every­thing) I only relax every 7–9 weeks. The oth­er weeks I two-strand twist it, and then roller set them. That way my already thick hair still gets some vol­ume with­out a lot of heat. I can’t believe folks for­got about the roller set. It’s how I kept my press­es for sev­en weeks danc­ing 25 hours a week in high­school, and how I weath­er the weeks between relax­ing appoint­ments. I loves my curlers. My sis may call me “granny” when she sees me all wrapped up but… Read more »
Nat

Hi.. I’m a licensed cos­me­tol­o­gist and I just fin­ished read­ing your ideas for straight­en­ing hair. I don’t agree with a few of your dam­ag­ing techniques…especially the one sug­gest­ing non licensed per­sons apply­ing chem­i­cals such as chem­i­cal relax­ers! The­se types of prod­ucts should only be applied by those licensed to do so! That’s how many peo­ple dam­age their own hair by improp­er­ly relax­ing it then blam­ing it on the product.also the main­te­nance should be done prop­er­ly. Relaxed hair can be more frag­ile so you have to treat it as such..

M

About 15 years ago, when I was too young to know bet­ter, I went to a pro­fes­sion­al to get a perm.over the next few days my hair fell out as if I were on chemo ther­a­py. truth be told, there is no safe way to apply that poi­son to one’s hair! WE need to accept and embrace our beau­ti­ful curls, waves and kinks and stop try­ing to please the world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not say­ing don’t ever straight­en your hair. If you must, avoid the chem­i­cals.

Jack

I think even if they were prop­er­ly applied by a pro­fes­sion­al it still has the pos­si­bil­i­ty to be dam­ag­ing. But I guess that’s just me. I know I did not fol­low direc­tion prop­er­ly all the time, but some of the dam­age is unavoid­able (like scalp burns) and I don’t feel the chem­i­cals are safe at all, even if applied by a pro­fes­sion­al. The smell alone of a relaxer…it just can’t be safe.

Turah

By the way WHY ARE WE BRUSHING OUR HAIR while its wet??? thats a BIG NONO !! none of us are white. That is all !!!!

Turah
Okay, did BGLH just rec­om­mend that we use syn­thet­ic oils ON our hair !!!!!!!!! HELLLLOOOOO !! i think im gonna have to unsub­scribe. Syn­thet­ic oils & chem­i­cals are linked to var­i­ous dis­eases like Can­cer, Dia­betes etc… syn­thet­ic oils & chem­i­cals ARE MANMADE !!!! The Whole pur­pose of petroleum„mineral,lanolin IS TO KEEP MOISTURE OUT. SO! tell me what IS the main thing that we need in our hair??????? MOISTURE!!!! WHEN THERE IS NO MOISTURE WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR HAIR?? it gets dry & breaks off. Hair is a non­liv­ing fiber, the only you can do to keep it healthy is PRESERVE… Read more »
Lindi

How about roller sets? I usu­al­ly just roller set my hair when wet and let it dry naturally/air dry. Gives me a “straight” look that still looks and feels like nat­u­ral hair, and as long as I keep it wrapped at night it can last well over a week.

Alex

For­got about roller­set­ting…

Quietstorm
I’ve been nat­u­ral for 6 years and my pre­ferred method of straight­en­ing is the flat iron. I blow dry occa­sion­al­ly, but I try not to do both at the same time. May­be I’m not old school enough, but the hot comb doesn’t work for me. The elec­tric doesn’t get hot enough, and the old fash­ioned one scares me. Plus if you want curls you have to put anoth­er form of heat any­way. The flat iron takes care of all of that. I also tried the Ker­at­in treat­ment and end­ed up cut­ting about 5 inch­es because I got addict­ed to the… Read more »
medical insurance billing services

I just want to empha­size the good work on this , has excel­lent views and a clear vision of what you are look­ing for..

Ayo

I blow dry my hair out straight and then flat iron it but not very fre­quent­ly. I get it pro­fes­sion­al­ly done, usu­al­ly after they wash my hair, I get it deep con­di­tioned, rinsed out, blow dried straight and styled. I have not had a relax­er for 7 years.

tameka coleman

I get my hair blow dried and flat ironed occa­sion­al­ly. If I do it myself, I twist my hair and let it dry nat­u­ral­ly. My sis­ter is a great styl­ist and did my hair in the pic­ture below. I did not suf­fer any dam­age to my hair and it is still very healthy and strong. 

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Candice
I would hard­ly say that “no dam­age” was done to your hair. I can see the before pic­ture and your ends look fried. Not try­ing to call any­one out, but I don’t think there is any “healthy” way to straight­en your hair. To each her own, but there is real­ly noth­ing “nat­u­ral” about a black wom­an with straight hair. It’s not to say that black wom­en can’t want it or attain it, but if your hair is not nat­u­ral­ly straight and can only be achieved by dam­ag­ing your hair with either heat or chem­i­cals then your hair is no longer… Read more »
petal

You do know there are black wom­en that have nat­u­ral straight hair, right? My friend has pin straignt hair, and she’s black (Half Soma­li, half Nige­ri­an)

AJ
Yes but when our hair is in its nat­u­ral state we still have to manip­u­late it some­how to get a style. Why can’t we straight­en it out with heat instead of twist­ing of locs? That’s not nat­u­ral either. Most wom­en in this mod­ern day and age do some­thing to change the nat­u­ral look of their hair. It may me cut­ting, chang­ing the col­or or some­thing. Why when it comes to black wom­en we have to still true to our “nat­u­ral hair”. Is it being sug­gest­ed that we roll out of bed wet our hair and go on about our busi­ness.… Read more »
Ayo

Even though I get my hair blow dried straight and flat ironed, I don’t feel as though I suf­fer any dam­age, and my hair has nev­er been more health­ier than it is now. I mean I get the aver­age break­age any­one gets in their hair, but not as intense as it was when I was get­ting relax­ers. Hair looks amaz­ing by the way :)

tameka coleman

Thank you and I agree! My hair is so full and healthy now. My last relax­er was March 2010 and I cut all of the relaxed hair off July 2010. The tex­ture of my hair straight with no relax­er is so much nicer than when it was straight with the relax­er. I can’t wait until I have 7 straight relax­er free yrs. Liv­ing in Tx makes it hard some­times.

Anon

bA big THANK YOU to the Beau­ty Brains for post­ing this for those of us who went nat­u­ral to have dif­fer­ent styling options, not to have our hair in the most pristine of con­di­tions all the time…

Lena

Did Type F sub­mit the write up on flat irons???

mangomadness

‘Extreme­ly curly’? There’s noth­ing ‘extreme’ about high­ly textured/afro-textued/tightly coiled hair…

Jade

Extreme- extend­ing far beyond the norm.

No one is mad, she’s just point­ing out that many brown wom­an don’t con­sid­er them­selves to be the ‘norm’.

It’s just a mat­ter of mind­set, do you con­sid­er your­self nor­mal or oth­er? It’s noth­ing to get mad about, just some­thing to think about.

I describe my hair as curly and when I describe peo­ple that need to ‘scrunch’ to achieve their style, I call that loose­ly curled. But when I think of curly, I think of my hair first.

Barbara

LMAO. Would it be an issue for a “brown” wom­an to use the term extreme­ly wavy or extreme­ly loose­ly curled? Come off it.

Lyn

That’s how I refer to my hair too, it’s just anoth­er way of say­ing “very.” It’s not that seri­ous.

MissD

Agreed, lol. Peo­ple just look­ing for some­thing to be mad about.

shannon

I just had my hair straight­ened by get­ting a Domini­can roller set. I think its very sim­i­lar to blow dry­ing on stretched hair because once I was up from under the blow dry­er and the rollers were removed, my hair was just about bone straight. No irons need­ed.

GorgeousSmile

I would only use mar­celles or what­ev­er those things are called to straight­en my hair. I don’t like flat irons, they just don’t look as good as the hot comb curlers.

honeybrown1976

Hot combs were left out!

Roni

We dont do Hot combs any more? I cant use a flat iron. It nev­er ful­ly straight­ens my hair… And I’m not sure what pro­duct I should be using to hold it straight…

Sorriso

Right.. I do a the comb…old school style.

Jay

When you straight­en your hair try using a small teeth comb or a boar bris­tled brush when you flat iron, that will get it straighter. (i used to have the same prob­lem)

ann

For real! That’s the most basic hair straight­en­ing method. Isn’t it less dam­ag­ing than the flat iron too?

Lyn

Hot combs are not less dam­ag­ing, when you place a hot comb on the stove you have no way to con­trol the heat on it, (unless you have a stove that tells you the exact tem­per­a­ture). There­for ups the chance of it becom­ing extreme­ly hot, to the point where you can cause dam­age to your hair.

Real RBN

There’s elec­tri­cal hot combs w/ temp con­trol

CB

Nice arti­cle but I don’t agree on flat-iron­ing wet hair which is an equiv­a­lent to fry­ing it. To help pre­vent heat dam­age, make sure hair is fair­ly dry and stretched, either from a twist-out or blowdry­er. Apply a heat pro­tec­tant then go over with the flat iron.

dani

i have seen this done before. i think peo­ple put alu­minum foil between the actu­al iron and the hair.
i wouldn’t do it my self though. lol. after years and years of flat iron­ing my own hair, i only get my nat­u­ral hair flat ironed by a styl­ist once or twice a year.

Jami

I agree on the obvi­ous error of flat iron­ing wet hair. And I think the “relax­er” should have been num­ber 6, and the “japan­ese” straight­en­er should have been num­ber 7 if you only have to get it twice a year.

Alisha

Agreed! Have you ever heard the siz­zle it makes? Scary!

Turah

Your not sup­posed to do that it dries your hair out.

Lin

Yeah, flat iron­ing wet hair is an absolute­ly ter­ri­ble idea.

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