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New Hair, Hairstyles, Haircut & Hairloss Articles & Tips 1997 - 2014

Is Chemical Hair Straightening The Best Choice For You?

Karen Marie Shelton - Copyright - All Rights Reserved 
Original Publication:  10/09/09

Introduction

Image
Courtesy of British Hair Awards

Kennadys Hair Salon
All Rights Reserved.

Over the years the process of chemical straightening hasn't changed but the name and description has.  Hair straightening is often presented as Japanese Hair Straightening, Yuko hair straightening, Ionic Straightening or some other marketing label.

Even though the name for hair straightening has changed the  truth of the matter is that chemical hair straightening is still basically the same as it has always been.  And no, it was not originated in Japan.

It has been around in the United States long before the Japanese straightening trend set the country on fire with the arrival of Yuko Japanese straightening in California.

There is a tremendous amount of misinformation on the Internet about chemical hair straightening, which by the way is different from chemical relaxing and Brazilian smoothing.

Much like permanent hair coloring, once you submit your tresses to permanent chemical straightening there's absolutely no way to alter the course for many months, if not years.

Chemical hair straightening, whether called Yuko, Ionic, Japanese or whatever, utilizes extremely harsh chemicals which in essence break the bonds of your your native born texture and then reform them into straight panels.  

The modern version of chemical strengtheners also utilize heated flat irons which range in temperature up to 450 degrees.  You are first breaking your hair down, reforming them and then frying your hair at high heats.

Yes, the hairdressers say it's fabulous and your will love your stick straight strands.  But will you? If you have already had your hair chemically straightened and loved it, you may actually like having your hair straightened.  If you haven't, you need to really take your time and do your research.

Virgin Hair Is Best But It's Rare

Image
Courtesy of British Hair Awards

Kennadys Hair Salon
All Rights Reserved.

In today's hair conscious world people start highlighting, lowlighting and coloring their hair as early as 8 years old.  In the world of baby beauty pageants even young girls who are just a few years old have had their hair highlighted or low lighted. 

The big loophole for professional hairdressers is to insist that chemical straightening only be performed on "virgin" hair. 

In fact, chemical straightening performed on hair which has been previously colored, highlighted, lowlighted or relaxed can sustain significant damage. 

Although some hair pros say it's OK to chemically straighten hair that was "minimal" prior chemical services, it is the exception rather than the rule. 

If a hairdresser pressures you to have chemical straightening treatments and you are unsure, run for the door.  Always get at least three different opinions from three different hairdresser at three different salons. 

Why am I so radical about chemical straightening?  I have received many emails over the years from angry, sad, depressed, frustrated people who are trying to recover from years of hair damage due to chemical straightening treatments.

Continued below ↓
 

Is Chemical Straightening Ever OK?

I believe that everyone should wear their hair whatever length, color and texture that makes them feel good about themselves.  If someone has been struggling with naturally curly hair for years and really believes chemical straightening is the best solution for them, I encourage them to follow their hears. 

However, I do ask they do their research so they go into the treatments with their eyes wide open and their strands fully prepared.

Will Chemical Straightening Damage Hair?

Chemical hair straightening except in rare cases will damage the hair.  It also can not be reversed so that you can instantly recover your natural curls or waves.  You will have to wait for your hair to grow out at the roots to return to your natural textures. 

Also, you may need to have the chemical straightened hair cut off if you decide not to have the roots retouched with chemical straightening solution.

Before You Take The Plunge Into Chemical Straightening

I recently consulted with a young woman (Kim) who had very tightly curly hair without any chemical treatments for the past five years.  She felt her tight curls were keeping her from being attractive.  She personally just didn't like her curls, even after joining the "love your curls" movement.  

She has a long thin face and was unhappy because her natural curls would extend past her chin when dry.  She wanted a fringe, she wanted straight strands and she believed her only option was chemical hair straightening.

I suggested she do the following things before proceeding:

1.  Make a detailed list of the reasons she wanted her hair chemically straightened.  I told her to add up the Pros versus the Cons.  In her case, the Pros won.  She wanted to continue her journey.
2.  Make a list of all her questions about her hair and whether she is a good candidate for chemical straightening.
3.  Find the three best chemical hair specialists in her city (Kansas City)
4.  Schedule paid consultations (it's important to pay for a consultation to avoid undue pressure to arrange for a treatment) with each of the chemical hair specialists to discuss the pros and cons of having her hair straightened.  Ask for a list of possible side effects.
5.  Do research online to read feedback from other hair consumers who have had hair straightening. 
6.  Wait at least two weeks before making a final decision to move forward with straightening.  This is to guarantee that you are going into straightening with lots of thought and not as a whim.
7.  Schedule the straightening at a salon that could offer exceptional air ventilation or the option to wear a special mask.
8.  Make sure to schedule the first chemical straightening treatment of the day. 
9.  Pay with a credit card so that she could get her money back if the treatment failed and the salon wouldn't return her funds.

Chemical Hair Straightening Results

Kim found three salons that specialized permanent hair straightening and she selected the one she liked best.  She made the first appointment of the day and submitted herself to the salon for Japanese thermal reconditioning, another name for chemical hair straightening.

The entire process took almost six hours in the salon but she was initially happy with the results.

It has been two months since her initial treatment and so far she has very little root re-growth.  Her hair grows very slowly and she was advised it might take up to six months for her roots to grow to a length requiring retouch.

She has reported her hair is extremely dry and brittle but she still enjoys the straight strands including her fringe. 

Would she do it all again?  Yes.  At least at this point.

To counterbalance the dry damaged tresses she uses a daily spritz of hair oil spray and applies a jojoba based oil to her ends.  She also has learned to dilute her shampoo and deep condition on a weekly basis.

What Would The Curly Girls Say?

There is a huge movement, at least in the United States, at this time, to love your curls, waves and kinks.  The natural curl and natural hair movement is against utilizing chemical strengtheners, relaxers or smoothers to alter the natural texture of the hair.

Ultimately everyone is responsible for finding the hair treatments for their hair which makes them feel good about themself.  Would the Curly Hair Guru's agree?  Maybe, maybe not but it doesn't matter.  At the end of the day it's important to do your own research, go into any hair treatments fully aware of the potential damage and outcome and then follow your own heart.

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