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… 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… 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… 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,… 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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