Natural, electrical and chemical hair straightening

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We’re coming into summer again – and with the humidity of storm season, you can get ready to see some serious frizz in the hairosphere, followed by some serious time with the hair straightener. Or could there be another way? Did you know that there is more than one option for straightening your hair?

Here is our summary of the five most popular options for sleek, smooth hair – and the pros and cons of each method.

1. Hair Straightener (Flat Iron)

Also called a flat iron, the hair straightener is an appliance that looks like a giant hair clip. You place a section of your hair between the two plates and slowly move the straightener down your hair.

Pros

  • Easy, simple.
  • Highly effective. It is the second-best thing to chemical straightening, when it comes to thick, curly hair.
  • They now use modern materials in the plates – ceramics, titanium, and more – that protect your hair from heat damage.
  • You get hot and sweaty – especially in summer!
  • You have to blow dry your hair first, otherwise you can damage your hair if it’s still wet.
  • Applying heat straight into your hair every day isn’t the best thing for it.

Cons

2. Tension Blow Dry

This is when you blow dry your hair until it’s almost completely dry. Then you take one section of hair at a time and pull it tight away from your head. Holding it tight, run a flat or paddle hairbrush down the length of your hair along with the blow dryer, completely drying the hair.

Use a low heat setting, as blow drying your hair for a long time on a high heat can damage your hair.

Pros

  • No need to buy any expensive equipment. Any blow dryer will do this, as long as you can set it to a low heat.
  • There are many blow dryers that come with hairbrush/comb attachments, so you can now literally just run the blow dryer through your hair as you hold it tight.
  • Requires a lot of practise to get the skill down pat.
  • Results will vary depending on how tight your curls are. People with seriously curly hair may expect to achieve a reduction in volume rather than real “straightening” power. (But at least you won’t have a fro anymore.)
  • Usually doesn’t last the full day.

Cons

3. Hot Roller Brush

This is a hairbrush (a roller or paddle brush, usually) that heats itself electrically. You literally just brush your hair like normal, and at the end, your hair is straight. We almost can’t believe it ourselves.

Pros

  • Could it be any easier?
  • A healthier option than other hair straightening methods, because they use a lower heat and some add ionic technology to de-frizz and calm hair at the same time. No broken ends, and no dry, brittle hair.
  • More expensive than a hair straightener.
  • It is not as effective as a hair straightener for thick, curly hair.

Cons

4. Hot Comb

This is an electric comb that you run through small sections of your hair. Also known as a pressing comb.

Pros

  • You can use it in between chemical straightening salon visits to take care of regrowth.
  • It’s difficult to do it right, and very easy to burn your hair or your scalp by doing it wrong.
  • It’s called a comb, so you might think that you can save time by straightening and combing at the same time – but no. Actually, your hair must be very thoroughly combed and free of tangles before you try to run the hot comb through it, to prevent getting a burning hot comb stuck in a patch of your hair. (Shudders.)
  • The combs are usually made of metal, so they’re not good for your hair.

Cons

5. Permanent Chemical Straightening

Just to be clear, there are four options when it comes to permanent chemical straightening:

  1. Japanese thermal reconditioning, a.k.a. the straight perm: Involves applying chemicals, then straightening the hair with a flat iron.
  2. Brazilian Keratin treatment: Keratin is the protein that keeps hair glossy and straight, and we lose keratin as we age.
  3. Relaxers: Uses caustic chemicals to soften coarse, tight curls.
  4. Texlaxers, a.k.a. texturisers: Relaxers that work more quickly than normal.

We could talk about pros and cons for each of these, but it would take all day, so here’s a summary of the pros and cons of permanent chemical straightening:

Pros

  • This process will permanently remove the curls currently in your hair, even if you have terrifyingly tight curls.
  • There are different options for different budgets, from the expensive Brazilian Keratin treatment to the Relaxers.
  • Texlaxers let your hair keep some of its bounce, texture, and thickness, so it the least damaging chemical option.
  • All chemical straightening options are highly damaging to your hair because they break the chemical bonds in your hair. Treatments usually make your hair quite dry and brittle (easily breakable).
  • Expensive.
  • Very time-consuming. Can take up to 3 hours for shoulder-length, thick hair.
  • You get curly regrowth that you then have to chemically straighten every 6-8 weeks to match the rest of your hair. (Or you can straighten your regrowth daily with a flat iron, but didn’t you choose chemical straightening because you hate spending hours in front of the mirror every day?)
  • You have to use a special shampoo afterwards, to avoid washing out the protein.
  • You also can’t go swimming in the ocean unless you wear a swim cap, because the salt will wash out chemical treatments.
  • “Permanent” straightening really means it will last around 3-6 months.
  • Many Keratin treatments include the chemical formaldehyde, which is very bad for humans and especially bad if you are pregnant. Before getting started, always ask the salon exactly what chemicals they use.

Cons

For an easy hair straightening option, find out which hair straightener brands Australian customers are most satisfied with, and what they thought of them.

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