Posts Tagged ‘straightening’

Hair Straightening Products: The Next Generation

by Modern Salon on Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Struggling with challenges ranging from frizz to unruly hair, curly clients have searched far and wide for ways to manage their manes. But in the not-so-distant past, when they came into the salon asking to get their hair straightened, they really only had two chemical service options: a traditional relaxer or a Japanese straightening treatment.

Then, almost overnight, “keratin” became the buzzword of the beauty industry, shifting the k-word context from “protein and conditioning” to smoothing and straightening. This new anti-wave of hair straightening products, known for giving clients with textured hair a straight, sleek look that lasted for months, became the new trend in texture management. This generated a boom of curly, wavy and even straight-haired clients running into salons to reap the “life-changing,” frizz-fighting benefits, even as questions and concerns about the process were being raised.

A Star Category is Born

With the downward-turning economy and traditional appointment stretching affecting salons, timing was good for companies to introduce a new revenue-generating service built upon strong consumer demand and dramatic results. Thus, dozens of new brands popped up, all selling their own variation of keratin straightening treatments.

This first generation of “Brazilian” keratin treatments after the country where the service originated — were formulated to last three to four months and generated an average ticket of $400.

Manufacturers of these new products and their R&D scientists proclaimed that replacing keratin in the hair could restructure and recondition hair fibers, refilling the holes and gaps in the hair shaft caused by chemical services and environmental factors, and that the process could even straighten hair when the formula was “sealed in” with a flat iron heated to 450 degrees.

Straight Evolves into “Smooth”

Alongside the big consumer buzz about keratin straightening came a wave of safety questions and concerns from consumers, salon professionals, associations and competitive brands alike. Most were focused on the levels of formaldehyde released when the solution was processed by the high-temp irons.

In response, the category has evolved significantly and competitively in 2011, morphing into smoothing treatments. Some notable changes:

• One brand may now offer a menu of different formulas for different hair types or “strength” of results.

• Education, both of salon professionals and consumers, has become key for serious players in the segment.

• Some brands have dropped “Brazilian” altogether from the name or description of the service.

• Interest has grown in alternatives to keratin treatments.

• Semi-permanent formulations designed to last only 4-6 weeks are growing in popularity. They can be overlapped with each application, and reach optimal potential after 2-4 applications.

• Many brands now focus on marketing low to no-formaldyde (or any –aldehyde) smoothing treatment alternatives, with minimal irritating odors or fumes.

• Even companies that elect not to get into the chemical service realm of smoothing are launching retail, take-home smoothing products, some utilizing keratin and some positioned to create a similar, albeit short-term, effect (up to 72 hours, for instance).

At Cosmoprof North America in Las Vegas, many of the new generation of smoothing treatments were on display, with marketing and education teams showing off their latest innovations. From Long Beach to Orlando, brands showed off their safety certificates to stylists at hair shows.

Can Clients Trust Hair Straightening Products Again?

by Raydine Vigil - Salon Owner, Chicago Hair Care, Chicago, IL on Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Can Clients Trust Hair Straightening Products Again?

Many former keratin clients are saying, to paraphrase Huey Lewis, “I want a new drug, one that won’t make me sick, one that won’t hurt my head.”

More than five years ago the Brazilian Keratin treatments came to the American market. Almost three years ago the formaldehyde safety issue came up. Last year, the testing yielded negative results, though the accuracy of the method came under question. As of now, temporary straightening has come to a screeching halt.

What we have available now, though, is like comparing apples to oranges because the chemicals in newer hair straightening products are different and react in different ways.

Human hair has many textures, from fine to coarse and from straight to curly. Curly hair is made of hair strands that have irregular surfaces that mesh and tangle with each other to make combing or smoothing difficult. Hair is made of keratin which in turn is made of polypeptide chains bonded together by cysteine (or disulfide) bonds, hydrogen bonds and salt linkages.

Cysteine is one of the nineteen amino acids used to form protein. During hair formation this important sulphur containing amino acid helps form disulphide bonds. Cysteine is the most prominent disulphide amino acid that cross links protein chains and gives hair stability. It is ground zero for molecular rearrangement during permanent waving, thermal reconditioning and curl reduction.

These bonds are responsible for the hair structure and may be broken by certain reduction reactions. The most common reductive agents are thioglycolic acid and its derivatives such as ammonium thioglycolate, cystamine hydrochloride and sodium bisulfite. They react on the hair keratin by breaking disulfide bonds that link cysteine units; this way, they form cystine, the main component of keratin.

The second rearrangement technique uses a hydroxide such as sodium hydroxide, guanindinium hydroxide or lithium hydroxide. When exposed to a relaxer, the hair chemically transforms from cysteine bonds to lanthionine bonds. For this reason, the term for chemical relaxing process is lanthionization.

The cosmetic formaldehydes, aldehydes, methylene glycols all reduced the cysteine bonds in the hair by compressing (defrizziing or reducing volume), smoothing or straightening (curl reduction or elimination) the hair. One company in particular capitalized on this idea by increasing the reducers to increase the straightening and decrease the resting time.

The new amino acid based hair straightening products (Zerran Realisse, Pravana Perfection, Enjoy Keratin Smoothing, Unnique Amino Keratin, Keragreen) fill the irregular portion of the hair strand, temporarily shifting a smaller amount of the disulfide bonds with cystine and making the hair feel thicker. They do not compress or straighten in the same way that previous keratin treatments did because they are not similar at all.

Clients that have never had the aldehyde based treatment will see curl softening, faster drying, slight volume reduction and some humidity resistance.

Clients who have had the aldehyde treatments before will say that most of the amino acid smoothers do not work because the manufacturers are promising similar if not exact results and they are not experiencing that.

A strong consultation for new clients and a hybrid treatment for previous clients is the solution at this point. Since the change to formaldehyde free formulas three years ago, I have been doing partial curl reduction with a keratin sealer. Since June of this year, I have been testing one hair straightening product that combines the two step hybrid service.

The Brazilian Keratin helped fill the gap for clients whose hair or needs did not meet the criteria for reducers and that gap is now open again, along with the public’s distrust of hairdressers.

The New “Japzilian” Hair Treatment

by Susonnah Gonzalez on Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Japzilian Smoothing Treatment

The new Japzilian smoothing treatment from California comes from the Joseph Martin Salon in Beverly Hills.

In the late 1990s, the Japanese hair straightening technique emerged as a way to permanently straighten hair. This method of straightening is also known as Thermal Reconditioning, and it combines the use of chemicals and heat to re-texturize the hair. Then the Brazilian Keratin Treatment made its way into salons worldwide as a revolutionary treatment utilizing proteins to deep condition hair while also smoothing the texture. Hair straightening techniques continue to evolve today, but perhaps none as innovative as the new Japzilian treatment.

The Japzilian is an ingenious marriage between the Brazilian Keratin Treatment and the Japanese Hair Straightening system. Combining the most advantageous qualities of both treatments, the Japzilian strives to give better results than either treatment could alone. The treatment was concocted in the Joseph Martin Salon in Beverly Hills, where G-San, a stylist and Artistic Color Director for the Joseph Martin Salon, had the idea for the Japzilian. G-San is the salon’s straightening expert, and has been styling hair for more than 14 years. The Japzilian is exclusively offered at the North Rodeo Drive location, where G-San works and has been whipping up the treatment for about eight months.

“Basically it’s a Japanese straight perm that is layered with keratin treatment. It gives fullness, body and shine to any type of hair—curly, fine, or ethnic,” says James Kendall, son of owner Joseph Kendall. Kendall has been styling hair for 25 years, and serves as the artistic director of the salon. Although the exact ingredients cannot be shared, Kendall assures that the treatment is simple. G-San has essentially combined his favorite Japanese straightening perm, Innosys, with his favorite keratin complex, Coppola.

“It’s a very interesting concept,” says Kendall, “He layers them on top of each other. And it only takes three and a half to four hours.” This is considerably shorter than the amount of time it takes to complete a Japanese straightening perm, which is roughly six hours. Although the name is funky and reptilian sounding, the results are anything but. The effects of the Japzilian are smooth, shiny locks that last up to five months longer than a normal Brazilian Keratin Treatment.

Pravana Launches New Smoothing Treatment

by CurlStylist on Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Pravana SmoothOut

Pravana’s Perfection SmoothOut

Pravana has launched Perfection SmoothOut—a patent-pending formula—that instantly transforms frizzy, coarse, or curly hair into soft, smooth locks, fulfilling a client’s desires while keeping her and her hair healthy and sexy. Innovation is on your side with Perfection’s proprietary Nano-Amino Complex, which suspends the internal and textural memory of the hair, transforming it to a new soft, sensual look and feel. There has never been anything like this product before.

Perfection is yours for the taking. Perfection SmoothOut expertly restores hair to an incredibly healthy and gorgeous state beyond expectations. Perfection’s low pH formula contains no harsh chemicals. Unlike the trouble-filled hair smoothing services of the recent past, Pravana’s advanced formula lets you set your flat iron to just 360 degrees, and claims to actually improve the integrity of the hair. Perfection’s gentle formula allows for cleansing and color services to be performed immediately after the SmoothOut, so your clients can leave with a stunning shade to go with their textural transformation.

After receiving the Perfection SmoothOut, clients can stay head-turning for eight to ten weeks with the aid of the specially formulated system Pravana created to ensure the longevity of the SmoothOut.

Check out the video about Pravana’s new treatment.

Texture: Giving Clients the Texture They Want

by Michelle Breyer on Wednesday, September 1st, 2010


Learn more about Texture!, a collaboration between CurlStylist, NaturallyCurly and Modern Salon

What if there was a product that allowed you to give clients exactly what they want? It could be used to straighten, loosen or defrizz waves and curls without damaging hair or creating an awkward grow-out period. What if this product could be used on any hair type to make the hair softer and shinier? And what if it boosted profits for salons and stylists by creating an entirely new market?

That product, say some stylists, now exists. Keratin treatments have exploded onto the scene, generating buzz among consumers and stylists alike.

A Cure for Frizz?

Keratin Complex Treatment

Three years ago, a handful of keratin companies existed—pioneers like Brazilian Keratin Treatment by Marcia Teixeira, Keratin Complex by Coppola and Global Keratin. At July’s 2010 Cosmoprof North America show in Las Vegas, there were more than 40 companies offering keratin treatment products, from large hair-care companies to small start ups.

“To have a product like a keratin straightener is a breakthrough,” says Stephanie Kocielski, a John Paul Mitchell.

Keratin Complex Products

Not so long ago, the only option to remove texture in the hair was to use a product containing sodium hydroxide—lye. Next came relaxers containing ammonium thioglycolate (nicknamed “thio relaxer”), a gentler service.

Most recently, those opting for a straighter look flocked to Japanese thermal reconditioning, a chemical process that permanently alters the internal structure of the hair shaft, rendering it totally straight. Thermal reconditioning (TR) was an all-or-nothing proposition, and many women with texture weren’t willing to commit to it.

But keratin treatments have not been without their share of controversy, either. When they first came on the scene, the formulas contained formaldehyde—sometimes in high concentrations. Formaldehyde is listed as a carcinogen by a number of health and safety agencies. Now many of the treatments are lower or free of formaldehyde and aldehydes, a family of compounds that straighten the hair. Many of the aldehydes are naturally derived and less toxic than formaldehyde. Additionally, some stylists and clients may wear masks to protect themselves from any irritants.

A World of Options

Global Keratin Products

Today’s new wave of relaxers, silkeners and smoothers give clients and stylists more choices than ever.

“It’s all about making your texture—whatever it is—better,” says Sasha Polit, marketing manager for Global Keratin Smoothing System. “If you want to change the texture, we offer that option, but if you want to work with your natural texture, we also offer that option.”

Global Keratin offers Light Wave, for those who want to keep their natural texture; Curly, for those who want more straightening capability; and Resistant, for the straightest look.

Methods vary, but the most commonly-used keratin treatment involves the stylist washing a client’s hair with a clarifying shampoo, applying the keratin treatment and then using a flat iron to straighten the hair and “seal” the treatment.

Global Keratin Before


“In the past, there weren’t a lot of options,” says Darby Shields, associate artistic director for ISO, which developed the Maintamer, a semi permanent retexturizer that softens and smooths naturally curly or previously permed hair. “You either had floppy hair, curly hair or straw hair. There wasn’t a lot in between. It was a big decision for people to do something so permanent with their hair. Maintamer is reversible the next day.”

Global Keratin After


With variety of new options comes an increased need for communication between stylist and client.

“When they start asking about a treatment, you have to dig deep into what they really want,” says Amanda Jenkins, master stylist and education director at Arrojo Studio. “Can they achieve it without a chemical treatment? I ask my clients to bring in pictures so we’re both very clear about what they’re expecting. It’s all about the consultation.”

Sleek Service

Some clients may want their hair completely straight. In that case, Kocielski says she may suggest The Relaxer by JPMS, a sodium hydroxide relaxer that eliminates curl. “Some people think they’ll be able to wash their hair and it will dry straight, but that’s probably not the case with a keratin treatment,” she says. “Keratin treatments can condition and soften the hair, but they don’t always straighten it.”

Price is also an important consideration. Keratin treatments and other types of chemical relaxers cost several hundred dollars, and may need to be redone every three to five months.

For the stylist, keratin treatments have provided a way to make their clients happy and boost their profit margin at the same time. One 32-ounce bottle of the KeraFusion System from De Fabulous can generate $4,000 for the stylist, says Rebecca Letizia, marketing director of De Fabulous.

BKT Products

In addition to the in-salon treatments, companies like Keratin Complex, Global Keratin and Marcia Teixeira Brazilian Keratin Treatment offer maintenance products designed to extend the life of the service and enhance the results. These products can also boost retail sales for the salon.

“These clients will come back every three to five months,” Polit says. “The more they use the product, the shinier, softer and more manageable their hair will be. You’re building
a client for life.”

The PhytoSpecific PhytoRelaxer relaxes or texturizes all hair types with a non-chemical formula. It comes in two levels: one for fine, delicate hair and one for coarse, resistant hair.

Smooth Operators

Here are a few of the keratin treatments available on the market today:

Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy by Coppola: Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy was founded by stylist and salon owner Peter Coppola. The therapy eliminates up to 95 percent of frizz and curl and instantly adds shine and condition to the hair.

Marcia Teixeira Brazilian Keratin Treatment: This treatment is for all kinds of hair to leave it soft, shiny and frizz-free for up to four months. It can be used safely on just about any type of hair—dry, frizzy, overprocessed, color treated, ethnic unprocessed virgin hair.

Pravana Kerafusion Keratin Treatment: This salon service permanently transforms coarse, curly, unruly hair to smooth, straight and shiny. Or, it makes fine, limp hair voluminous. It contains no thio, no sodium hydroxide, no formaldehyde, no aldehydes. As part of the Keratin Fusion service, Pravana’s Thermal Insulator protects the hair during the texture control.

Brazilian Blowout: Through the use of a Brazilian Super Nutrient Complex and a proprietary polymer system, the Brazilian Blowout improves the condition of the hair by creating a protective protein layer around the hair shaft to eliminate frizz and smooth the cuticle. Results last up to 12 weeks.

Global Keratin: The Juvexin Hair Taming System incorporates a keratin formulation which protects the hair and prevents damage to hair surface. The system is an organic, active complex component, delivered to the hair in its raw, natural state. Amino acids and proteins remain whole to condition hair and protect it from damage caused by environmental factors.

ISO Maintamer: ISO Maintamer Straightening System is a two-step straightening system that smoothes coarse hair, taming unruly curls and waves, un-perming ends and controlling frizzy hair. Maintamer uses a damage-free, thio-free, lye-free Isoamine technology that processes primarily within the cortex of the hair, to minimize damage to the cuticle while altering the pattern of naturally curly or previously permed hair to soften and smooth.

La Brasiliana: Intense treatment that softens, smoothes and relaxes all hair types. Available in Original, Apple and Mocha varieties.

PhytoSpecific PhytoRelaxer: This non-chemical relaxer relaxes or texturizes all hair types. Formulated with molecules from egg and soya, it is odorless and does not contain lye. It’s available in two levels: for fine, delicate hair and one for coarse, resistant hair.

Texture: Cool Tools

by Michelle Breyer on Wednesday, September 1st, 2010


Learn more about Texture!, a collaboration between CurlStylist, NaturallyCurly and Modern Salon

For decades, stylists and consumers have relied on the tried-and-true tools to create textured styles. Diffusers help coax the natural curl out of the hair. Flat irons straighten and smooth. Curling irons add ringlets or waves. While these tools are still useful in the salon setting and at home, technology is changing—advancing the way stylists texturize hair—and evolving the way salons do business.

CHI Orbit:

CHI Orbit

Why it’s cool: CHI Orbits are available in multiple sizes to mimic diverse natural curl patterns. When used on curly hair, the Orbit tames frizz and reroutes curls. Orbit tools use CHI 44 technology to penetrate the hair shaft giving each curl long-lasting results with elasticity. A non-stick heating surface lets hair be wrapped around without tangles or pulling and alleviating wrist strain.

White Sands Curling Iron

White Sands Curling Iron

Why it’s cool: This curling iron fuses together the spring iron and Marcel methods into one tool. Utilize the professionalism and wave technique of a Marcel iron to create waves or switch to the direct control and ease of a spring load without the need for multiple irons. Check it out!

Joico K-PAK ReconstRx Vapor Iron

K-PAK ReconstructRx Vaopr Iron

Why it’s cool: K-PAK ReconstRx Vapor Iron infuses hair with K-PAK Quadramine Complex, which reconstructs and nourishes hair, working from the inside out to improve hair’s health and condition. The iron’s vented ceramic/silicon hybrid plates and Vapor Fuel steam produce shiny, vibrant hair. Check it out!

Belson Triple-Barrel Waver

Belson Triple-Barrel Waver

Why it’s cool: The intuitive controls allow the user to choose heat settings according to hair type, including synthetic extensions and wigs. Select the “hair type” button and the iron automatically adjusts to the precise temperature setting needed. Nano ceramic coated triple barrels radiate gentle farinfrared heat, locking in moisture in the hair shaft and sealing the cuticle from damage; leaving hair frizz-free, shiny and silky. Check it out!

Babyliss Pro Nano Titanium 1″ U Styler

Babyliss Pro Nano Titanium

Why it’s cool: Sol-Gel technology reduces friction for a strong, smooth glide, while the curved side heating plates create curls in one smooth flip. Straighten, add body, wave and curls. It includes a ceramic heater for consistent heat and recovery, up to 450°F. Plus stay-cool Ryton housing, a rubberized thumb rest, and a cool tip for comfort. Chaeck it out!


Why it’s cool: Fun and easy to apply, Curlformers can be used to create glossy curls and loose sexy waves, or to add texture and body without subjecting hair to heat or damage. Check it out!

DevaConcepts DevaSun Dryer

DevaConcepts DevaSun Dryer

Why it’s cool: Designed specifically for curly tresses, the DevaSun Dryer uses ion-generating technology and features three custom temperature settings for curly and wavy hair. The hand-shaped DevaFuser utilizes a 360-degree airflow to gently dry curls from the inside out. Check it out!

Tool Time

Ceramic, ionic and tourmaline made hot tools sizzle. Understand the technology behind the trends in tools with our quick guide.

Ceramic: Creates even heat distribution and snag-free gliding.

Far-infrared Heat: When absorbed, it dries hair from the inside out to work faster and minimize cuticle damage.

Ionic: Negative ions split or electrolyze water molecules, causing them to penetrate deeply but evaporate faster. When negative ions are attracted to positive ones, they neutralize them, causing the cuticle to close. Results: smoother, shinier hair.

Tourmaline: When heated, this gemstone produces more negative ions than any other substance, plus far-infrared heat. The claims: Even heat distribution, faster drying times, less damage, increased shine.

Brazilian Blowout Offers Texture Options

by Advertorial on Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Britney Hinker

Britney Huinker

Every wonder how stars get their shiny, sexy tresses? Stars like Halle Berry, Jennifer Aniston and Selma Hayek have been jumping on the Brazilian Blowout bandwagon.

Keratin treatments have taken the country by storm, becoming one of the hottest chemical services, and the Brazilian Blowout has become one of the leaders of the pack. For curly girls, Keratin Treatments provide a gentler way to straighten locks, loosen curls and zap frizz.

“This isn’t a trend,” says Brazilian Blowout founder Britney Huinker. “It’s the perm of the 21st century. I truly believe it’s here to stay. New people come in to get their haircut, their color and the Brazilian Blowout. Every client can benefit from it.”

Unlike the thermal reconditioning system (Japanese straightening), which thermally and chemically restructures the hair bonds to create permanent stick straight hair, the keratin procedures recondition the hair, preventing frizz while allowing it to wave, curl, or be flat-ironed straight. Hair gradually returns to its original state without the awkward growing-out stage.

Because of the nature of the treatment, it can be used on a wide variety of hair types to achieve a range of looks, from straightening waves to providing shinier, more defined curls. For that reason, demand has soared.

Huinker, a Los Angeles native, has always had an interest in hair. Her mother was a stylist, and she wanted to go to beauty school herself. But her parents insisted she attend a four-year university. Although she graduated from the University of South California with a degree in business communications, her passion for the beauty industry was still alive and well.

Four years ago, Huinker teamed up with friend and entrepreneur M. Devin Sempler to open the Argyle Salon & Spa in the Sunset Tower Hotel on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, Calif. Since it opened, the salon has become a mecca for A-list celebrities.

The salon also became the development laboratory for Brazilian Blowout.

The salon has truly been the catalyst for everything we do,” Huinker says. “

Sempler returned from a trip to Brazil with a keratin treatment, and the salon began doing it on people’s hair. They decided to create their own treatment, flying back and forth to Brazil.

A year and a half ago, Huinker decided to completely reformulate Brazilian Blowout because it took too long, and she didn’t like sending her clients home with product in their hair. So they took the product off the market, reformulated it and rebranded it.

“We worked with a company here in the United States to come up with a formula that can be rinsed out of the hair so there’s no downtime,” Huinker says. “When a client comes in to get the treatment, it takes 90 minutes from beginning to end. There’s no processing. They can shower and go to the gym right afterward.”

Huinker says this is what differentiates Brazilian Blowout from some of the other keratin treatments on the market. With other treatments, she says the client may have 24 to 96 hours of downtime.

The core of the product is Brazilian Super Nutrient Complex, a proprietary blend of amino acids that fill the cuticle and provide protective protein to create shine, conditioning and silkiness without losing volume.

The formulation enables clients to get exactly the look they want, she says.

“If they want to keep their curl and wave and just get rid of frizz, they can do that,” she says. “If they want straight hair, they can do that too. It all depends on the technique the stylist uses. It really fits the needs of every client. It’s a smoothing system, not a straightening system.”

Training is an essential element of Brazilian Blowout, Huinker stresses. Stylists are trained on different techniques that provide different outcomes.

“That’s one of the main reasons we haven’t done a distribution deal, despite getting 20 calls a day,” says Huinker, who does training every Monday at her salon for those who want to become a certified Brazilian Blowout stylist.

“I’m there every Monday, without fail,” she says.

Although there is training available online, stylists who take it have to take a test, and it is mandatory that they take part in the education tour.

Before and After

Huinker says Brazilian Blowout does not contain formaldehyde—an ingredient commonly in some of her competitors’ treatments. Brazilian Blowout instead uses a proprietary polymer system, she says. Although this has caused some people to shy away from the treatments, Huinker believes formaldehyde’s bad reputation is undeserved. She calls it “media hype.”

“It’s a chemical treatment, but that’s how you get fabulous results,” she says.

The key to keeping hair looking good after getting a treatment, she says, is using the right products. The Brazilian Blowout Acai Aftercare collection includes Anti-Frizz Shampoo, Anti-Frizz Conditioner, Smoothing Serum and a Deep Conditioning Masque. The Acai hair care products infuse the hair with the company’s proprietary Brazilian Super-Nutrient Complex. This complex allows for a continual and cumulative smoothing effect to occur while the hair is washed and styled in between professional treatments.

Huinker says the products benefit those who haven’t gotten a Brazilian Blowout as well because they get rid of frizz and add shine.

Although Huinker believes Brazilian Blowout has become the gold standard, she has high praise for the other keratin treatments on the market and believe they are changing the industry.

“WIthin two years, I believe every salon will offer some form of keratin treatment,” she says. “It really fits every client. Now people come in to get their haircut, their color and the Brazilian Blowout.”

Want to become a Brazilian Blowout certified salon? Visit their website.

Straight Facts about Straightening

by Michelle Breyer on Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Take care when straightening hair.

Everybody wants options when it comes to their hair, and women with curls and kinks are no different.

While you might like to wear your hair wavy or curly most of the time, sometimes it’s nice to have a straighter, sleeker look.

But when it comes to straightening your hair, say the experts, there are right ways to do it. And there are wrong ways.

“Straightening the hair is not an easy technique, and it requires a lot of practice,” says Jonathan Torch of the Curly Hair Institute in Toronto.

f you want the option to wear your hair both curly and straight, the cut is important, says Christo of Christo Fifth Avenue.

“The hair must be cut for versatility, with angles that frame the face,” Christo says. “And the bottom line must be reversible and cut with slide angles in every direction, so when you blow it out straight it will look just a good as it does when it’s curly.”

Since all methods of straightening can stress the hair shaft, it is crucial to keep the hair healthy and moisturized.

“Make sure your hair is in good condition before you start,” says New York stylist Rodney Cutler of the Cutler Salon. “Sexy hair is not enough. You need sexy, healthy hair.”

The Blow Out

To temporarily straighten curls, there’s no easier way than with a blow-dryer.

“When you blow dry, you’re not locking yourself into one look,” Cutler says. “It’s less damaging and more cost-effective.”

Make sure you use products designed to work with the heat to protect the hair and lock in the style. There are a number of products on the market especially for blow-drying, including heat-protectant stylers. When applying the products, pay special attention to the ends.

Get the right tools for the job. Invest in a good ionic or ceramic dryer. A good dryer cuts drying time and reduces heat-related damage. Make sure you have a nozzle.

“A nozzle is key because you’re directing the heat from the roots to the ends,” Cutler says.

Round natural-bristle brushes are the preference of many stylists. The more bristles, the better. Some stylists like to start with a flat paddle brush until the hair is 70 percent dry, finishing off with a round brush.

The hair should be about 50 to 60 percent dry before you start blow-drying it, says stylist Cynthia Cheslock of Practically Frivolous Salon in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“If you make more than two passes with the blow-dryer, then the hair is too wet and you are just boiling the water on the hair,” Cheslock says.

Separate the hair into small sections, using a clip to keep the other sections out of the way. Start at the back of the head, since it is the thickest. Hold the dryer at least 12 inches away from the hair shaft, and hold it an angle, pointing it down on the hair shaft — not on the scalp, says curly hair stylist Shai of Capella Salon in Studio City, Calif. This will force your hair cuticles to lie flat, making your hair shinier and smoother. You can tilt your head slightly to make this movement easier.

“Dry the hair following the way the hair grows, to create more shine,” Shai says. “Blowing hair against the natural direction it grows creates frizz and damage.”

Make sure you keep either your dryer or hair moving at all times. Overheating your hair happens easily and can damage it.

Stretch each section with a round brush.

“The key is in the tension, the heat and the cooling,” Torch says. “While you’re pulling on a piece, direct the heat of the blow-dryer toward the tips to seal the hair into that position.”

Don’t try to wind your hair round the brush starting at the tip of your hair. The key is to start with the brush half way up the hair and keep turning your brush gently around until you reach the tip of your hair. That way, the hair naturally curls round the brush when it gets to the tip.

If your hair is short, you can simply place your brush at the roots of the section of your hair, and blow the hairdryer up so that the hair strands curls around the brush. Keep turning the brush so that the hair curls around the brush.

Let each strand cool before releasing the brush and letting the hair fall. Repeat the process on each sections of the hair until all the hair has been straightened.

Tame flyaway hair with an anti-frizz serum or pomade. Place a few drops in your hand, rub gently to distribute it, then apply it to your hair.

Blow-drying takes patience. It can take 45 minutes to straighten shoulder-length curly hair. For special occasions, it may be worth it to pay for a professional blow out at the salon.

“You will never be able to get the same results at home because you do not have four hands or the over-head angle that stylists have,” says Amie Zimmerman of the Dirty Little Secret.

Finessing the Flat Iron

To get the hair extra sleek after you blow it dry, flat irons can be highly effective tools.

“It’s just going that extra yard,” Cutler says.

Buy a high-quality iron. such as an ionic or ceramic flat iron. The ceramic irons use consistent heat and negative ions to remove static and smooth frizzies. Ceramic irons flatten the cuticles of wavy hair and seal in moisture.

“Buy the best iron you can afford, because a bad flat iron can really damage the hair,” Cheslock says.

Before using any flat iron tool, always test the temperature first. Take a piece of tissue paper and moisten it (making it damp, not wet). Press the tissue paper between the heating plates of the iron and hold for a few seconds. A small amount of steam would be normal. But if there is any smoking, scorching or discoloration of the paper, the iron is too hot and the temperature needs to be adjusted to prevent the hair from burning.

Take 2-inch sections through the iron and work your way through the section, from the top to the bottom upward.

“Pass it through the hair in very fast motions,” says Christo.

After straightening each segment, allow it to cool. Once it’s cooled, pass a comb through it to break the hair apart and give it a smoother finish.

thermal reconditioning

Before thermal reconditioning
thermal reconditioning Before thermal reconditioning

Chemical Straightening

If you are ready to go to extremes to get straight hair, you can visit a salon to get a chemical relaxing treatment. Make sure you select a salon that is experienced with relaxers.

“With a chemical process, the success is determined by the qualifications of the technician,” Torch says.

Do some research before selecting a salon. Make sure they work with a lot of clients with your hair type, and that they’re well trained in chemical services.

“Leaving the cream on too long can result in hair that’s relaxed, but badly damaged,” Christo says.

There are three basic types of hair relaxers: sodium hydroxide, guanidine hydroxide and ammonium thioglycolate.

One of the reasons hair is curly is because of hydrogen bonds between the proteins (keratin) that make up your hair; these bonds are weak and can be enhanced by water. Relaxers simply break these disulfide bonds and cap them so that they cannot chemically reform.

Sodium hydroxide is the strongest type of relaxer, and is often called the lye relaxer. It is a very strong, harsh chemical, and can only be used on coarse, extremely kinky hair. The pH level is between 10 and 14, which means it has the most potentially harmful relaxer. If not used by a professional, it can cause the hair to break.

No-lye relaxers are either guanidine hydroxide (a combination of calcium hydroxide cream with guanidine carbonate) or ammonium thioglycolate “thio.” These have a pH of between 9 and 9.5, and are considered to be less damaging than the sodium hydroxide or lye relaxers. However, it is still vital to give your hair the same care that you would give your hair with a sodium hydroxide relaxer.

One of the hottest trends in chemical straightening is the thermal reconditioning straightening treatments. After shampooing the hair and applying a protein solution, a cream or gel-based thio solution is applied to the hair to soften the hair and disassociate the sulfur bonds inside the hair shaft. Small sections of hair are thermally restructured with a flat iron at a very high temperature (over 300 degrees). Next, a neutralizer is applied and the hair is pulled straight.

There are several drawbacks to thermal reconditioning. The service takes several hours and costs several hundred dollars. It also requires periodic touchups to the new growth. And it works much better on softer, wavier textures than on coarser, kinkier hair types. Some people who have lightened or color-treated their hair also should stay away from thermal reconditioning.

Those who embark on this process must realize that once the hair is straight, it’s straight for good. For those who blow-dry their hair straight everyday, it can make life easier by cutting blow-drying time.

But some curlies find that their options are limited. Stylists recommend blowing your hair straight for a a few weeks or trying on a straight wig before you have it done to make sure you like the look.

“It is not reversible,” cautions Christo. “If you want your hair curly again, the only that can be done is to cut off all your hair and start from scratch. At our salon, we may turn down certain requests for this chemical process out of concern for our clients’ hair. Because, after all, we love curly hair.”

Before straightening the hair, Diane Da Costa, author of “Textured Tresses,” suggests clients try a less-drastic chemical service like a softener or texturizer that loosens the curl rather than straightens it.

“This can make it easier to blow-dry or flat iron the hair straight,” Da Costa says.

With any chemical straightener, the hair will tend to be more porous and will need extra moisturizing and protection when being blow dried or heat styled. Use gentle cleansers and deep condition once to twice a week.

Stylists caution that you should never use a thio straightener on hair that has been straightened with a sodium hydroxide straightener. It can be like giving your hair a chemical haircut.

“Layering on different relaxer types can definitely cause breakage,” says Titi Branch of Miss Jessie’s Salon in Brooklyn.

Quick Tips for A Great Blow Out

STEP 1: To straighten hair, begin by shampooing, conditioning and towel-drying hair.
STEP 2: Apply a heat protectant product to your hair, paying special attention to the ends.
STEP 3: Place a quarter-size dollop of straightening balm in your palm. Rub your palms together to distribute the product over your hands, then massage it evenly through hair.
STEP 4: Comb through your hair with your fingers while gently blow-drying it on a low setting. This removes excess water.
STEP 5: Pull your hair into three sections, two at the sides and one at the back. Clip the two sides up.
STEP 6: Select a small portion of the hair from the unclipped section to straighten.
STEP 7: Using a thick, round brush and beginning at the roots, gently pull the brush through the hair to the ends while blow-drying it. Pull the hair away from your head, stretching and straightening it as you go.
STEP 8: First pull the brush through the underside of your hair so that you expose it directly to the heat of the dryer. Once that area is mostly dry, switch to the top of the hair.
STEP 9: Keep the tension consistent and evenly distribute heat over the section of hair you’re working on. This ensures uniform hair texture and prevents overdrying of certain areas.
STEP 10: Once that portion of hair is straightened, continue selecting and blow-drying small portions until that section is dry and straight.
STEP 11: Repeat the process on the two other sections to straighten your entire head of hair.

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Tips for Making the Back of Your Hair Look as Good as the Front

STEP 1: After applying a straightening balm to damp hair, create four equal sections - two in front and two in back. Clip the front ones up and pull the back ones forward.

STEP 2: To blow a back section straight, tilt your head forward, place a paddle brush an inch below the roots to hold them taut, and aim the dryer above the brush for a few seconds.

STEP 3: Next, pull the brush forward around your neck (this curving motion creates body), placing the dryer in front of it until you reach the ends. Repeat until dry.

Straightening Products

AG Hair Cosmetics Insulate
Curlisto Straight Time Glaze
Cutler Straightening Cream
Ojon Leave-in Glossing Cream
Cutler Specialist Protectant Treatment Spray
Ojon Shine & Protect Glossing Mist
PhytoSpecific Integral Hair Care
Curly Hair Solutions ReMane Straight
Redken Straight Straightening Balm
Blended Beauty Straightening Glaze
Redken Fabricate
Kenra Platinum Hot Spray
Bumble & bumble Straight Control Freak Extra Extra Straight Hair Straightener
Biosilk Silk Therapy Smoothing Balm
Frizz Ease Straight Answer Straightening Spray
Alterna Hemp Seed Straightening Balm
TIGI Bedhead
Paul Mitchell Straight Works
KMS California Flat Out Straightening Creme
Rusk Str8 Anti-Frizz Anti-Curl Lotion
ABBA Straightening Balm
Tigi S-Factor Heat Defender Flat-Iron Spray
Got2B CrazySleek Hot Smooth Flat Iron & Blow Dry Lotion
Blended Beauty Straight Pearl
CurlFriends Shine Hair Gloss
Elucence Extended Moisture Repair Treatment

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