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  5. Hair Smoothing: This Is What You Need To Know About It

Let’s get straight to the point. We all want smooth hair. Period.

And, how do you find a solution that is easy, fast and lasts long? Enter hair smoothing treatments.

But stop. Your wish for smooth and shiny hair may very well be granted with hair smoothing treatments. However, they can have long term repercussions on your hair health. So here's everything you should know about them before you head out for the session.

What Is Hair Smoothing?

Hair smoothing or smoothening is a chemical process that uses a formaldehyde [1] solution to saturate your hair strands, post which a flat iron is used to set it. The procedure smoothes out the hair, and removes frizz and dryness. It is a quick fix for someone considering hair straightening.

How Is Hair Smoothing Done?

In-Salon Methods

A. Blow Drying

Running late for that party or meeting and need smooth hair instantly? Blow drying is the best option. It gives you smooth and manageable hair but the results last until your next hair wash. It works well for wavy and curly hair. Use a good heat protectant spray before starting out.

B. Straightening

Straightening is usually done with a flat iron and the results last for a day. You can achieve super soft and straight hair. Again, remember to use a heat protectant spray so you don't end up damaging your hair.

C. Traditional Relaxers For Hair

This treatment removes frizz and smoothens the hair. It is most suitable for wavy and slightly curly hair. The results can last up to 4-6 months. If you have a sensitive scalp, go for relaxers like guanidine hydroxide and calcium hydroxide.

D. Keratin Treatments

Keratin is a hair protein that gives hair its strength. Keratin treatments are divided into brazilian blowout, keratin treatment and cysteine treatment.

Brazilian blowout [2] is popular for a reason. It is compatible with bleached hair too. It gives hair a smooth and shiny finish which is otherwise not possible with chemical relaxers.

Formaldehyde solution is applied to the hair, is dried and straightened using a flat iron. The solution breaks down the hydrogen bonds in keratin molecules of the hair. The alignment of the keratin [3] filaments is disrupted and when the hair is set using a flat iron, the strands fit in perfectly to look smooth and shiny. This process takes 3-5 hours.

Cysteine treatment uses formaldehyde free keratin treatments that do not pose side effects and extreme heat hazards.

E. Thermal Reconditioning Or Japanese Straightening

This kind of treatment breaks the bonds in the hair using a chemical solution. The hair is then reshaped with a flat iron. A neutralizer is applied towards the end to seal the hair in a straight shape. It requires regular touch-ups but is extremely useful for loose to medium curls.

Word Of Caution

Talk to your stylist if you are allergic to any chemicals, have hair loss concerns and any serious medical implications. Consider a hair test at a salon and consult your dermatologist in case you find any problem.

F. Creams Used For Hair Smoothing

After washing, conditioning and blow drying hair, a cream is applied on the hair and is left for 30 minutes. This cream enables the breakage of bonds in the hair's keratin. Hair is then straightened using a flat iron.

A neutraliser cream is then applied to seal the effect and hair is washed after another 30 minutes.

There are hair smoothing creams available in the market that give healthy-looking hair fast. Here's a list of ingredients such products may contain:

  • Biotin
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin B5
  • Moringa seed oil
  • Amino acids
  • Moroccan argan oil
  • avocado oil

Limit hair smoothing treatments to thrice a year as they can lead to brittle hair if done excessively. If you have extremely thin and brittle hair, avoid hair smoothing treatments entirely.

At-Home Treatments

A. Hot Oil Treatment

This is an age old treatment for smoothening the hair. Warm any oil like coconut, olive, sweet almond, castor or jojoba for a minute or two and apply to your scalp and strands. Massaging a hot oil improves blood circulation on the scalp, provides strength to the hair and makes hair smooth.

You could also add essential oils like rosemary, thyme, or lavender to your carrier oils like coconut oil. After soaking your hair in oil for a good 30 minutes, wash with a gentle shampoo.

B. Banana Mask

Bananas not only have benefits for your body but also for your hair. It is rich in carbohydrates, potassium, natural oils and vitamins. Make a hair mask using banana, olive oil and curd, apply on the hair for 20 minutes and wash with a mild shampoo. It reduces frizz and makes hair smooth.

C. Mayonnaise Mask

Mayonnaise contains amino acids and a powerful antioxidant. Mix a cup of mayonnaise with 2 teaspoons of mashed avocado and apply on your hair. Wash after an hour.

Things To Do Before Your Hair Smoothing Session

1. Do adequate research about the salon you are considering.

2. Know your hair type. The treatment methodology may vary according to your hair type.

3. Beware of discounted deals. They may not be using high quality products.

4. Understand your products. The brands of products that salons use for hair smoothing says a lot about their credibility and certifications.

5. Discuss with your stylist if you've already gone through a hair smoothing process before.

Post Smoothening Hair Care Tips

Use hair care products that protect your hair shaft. Silicone-based products are your best bet. Use sulfate-free shampoos to wash your hair.

Do not tie your hair in tight ponytails for at least two days to stay away from damaging results.

Massage your hair and scalp with coconut oil, olive oil or almond oil. Coconut oil is believed to replenish lost protein in damaged hair [4].

Apply hair masks once a while to hydrate and strengthen your hair.

Limit the use of hair styling tools to prevent heat damage caused to the hair.

How Long Do Smoothing Treatments Last?

The effects of hair smoothing last anywhere between 2-5 months. Wavy and frizzy hair can benefit out of the treatments, while they may not be that effective for thick and curly hair.

Disadvantages Of Hair Smoothening Treatment

Initially, when formaldehyde was used, stylists would complain of pungent smell, burning eyes and burning nose [5]. So opt for a well-ventilated salon and a professional therapist.

Formaldehyde is toxic in nature. It could cause irritation of eyes, respiratory tract and skin, chest pain, vomiting and rashes. It is also considered a cancer causing compound (carcinogen) [6]. According to a study [7], formaldehyde is linked to an increased chance of developing asthma. The excess heat from flat iron during the process can also cause damage to the hair.

Wrapping Up

Hair smoothing treatments are a big hit in today's world. Because let’s admit it, who has the time for regular oils and masks? Considering the benefits they have to offer, the few negatives of these treatments can be overlooked, provided you get them done at a professional and well-ventilated salon. And, regular maintenance is a must if you are going for hair smoothing treatments.

So, are you going to try one of the hair smoothing treatments? Let us know!

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