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A lot of women love it when their hair is straight and smooth, free of any frizz. While curly and wavy hair have their own charm, the thing with straight hair is that it requires minimal care. Even if you have the best haircare products in place, it can get a little tasking, especially when you have to put in that extra effort like a weekly hair oil to take care of your mane and make it manageable. Step in various straightening methods that can alter your hair structure and give you a permanent smooth finish that lasts till your hair grows out. Hair straightening and hair smoothening are popular techniques that people often opt for –– however, the difference between the two often gets murky. Scroll down to see which technique is better suited for your hair, the side effects of each, and what to expect from each of them.
Hair straightening is divided into two types –– temporary and permanent. Temporary often involves heated styling tools like irons and blow dryers, which use heat to straighten hair. The reason why it’s temporary is because your hair goes to its natural state once it’s washed. You need to always use a heat protectant hair serum when temporarily straightening your hair.
Permanent hair straightening on the other hand involves chemical relaxers that break the bonds of your hair shaft. Heat is then applied to the hair, where more chemicals are applied to it to seal the new bonds. Alkaline straighteners that contain sodium hydroxide, lithium hydroxide, and calcium hydroxide are used on the hair. These chemicals have an extremely high pH level that helps open up your hair’s cuticle. When they come into contact with your coretex, a reaction is formed with the keratin that causes it to break and rearrange itself. This results in poker straight hair that is permanent (until your hair grows out).
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The upside to permanent hair straightening is that your hair is permanently styled and doesn’t have to be redone after each wash. The chemicals used in hair straightening penetrate through your hair shaft and make it straighter. It lasts a while and doesn’t curl up –– until new hair grows out.
Hair straightening is suited for literally all hair types- this includes the roughest and curliest of strands. It keeps hair super straight for months and needs to be repeated every 8-12 weeks.
There is a side effect of hair straightening. Since the chemical relaxers are quite potent, it cannot be applied to the scalp as they can burn your skin. Doing it wrong can cause serious damage and even result in hair breakage. The issue with hair straightening is that the chemicals and heat used can damage your hair fibers and often make it weaker and more brittle. Since the chemicals used are super harsh, you’ll find your mane more prone to frizz, hair loss, thinning, split ends, and basically all your nightmarish haircare woes.
Hair smoothening is a temporary technique that relaxes your hair and leaves it free from frizz. It involves saturating your hair with a solution and then using a flat iron to lock in the straight hair. Formaldehyde is applied to the hair, which breaks the hydrogen bonds of the keratin molecule. When heat is applied it rearranges the keratin, keeping it straight and shiny. This chemical solution is not as harsh as the ones used in hair straightening, which makes it a great alternative for smooth, shiny, and natural looking straight hair. The effects last between 2 to 5 months and are only recommended for hair that’s wavy or frizzy.
If you’re looking for less damage, then hair smoothening is perfect for you. The benefit of hair smoothening is that the formaldehyde solution used doesn’t do major damage the way straightening does. It relaxes your hair and makes it less prone to frizzing up. Unfortunately, it isn’t as effective as straightening especially for hair that is curly or extremely frizzy and it isn’t that long-lasting either.
The formaldehyde used in the process of hair smoothening can often trigger reactions and side effects like headaches, dizziness, vomiting and other such nervous system problems. Studies have shown that formaldehyde increases the chances of developing asthma too. Another side effect of hair smoothening is the use of excessive heat with a flat iron can damage your hair.
In all honesty, it is purely dependent on your hair and what your needs are. If you’ve got super curly hair that’s extremely frizzy then hair straightening is the option for you. If you’ve got wavy or frizzy hair that needs a little taming, then hair smoothening is for you. Again you need to understand what your requirements are: are you looking for something permanent or temporary, what is your final look, and are you looking to combat frizz or do you actually want that pin-straight hair. All of these matter when trying to figure out whether you’re looking to straighten your hair or smoothen it.
With either you need to make sure you follow the correct hair care routine. From using the appropriate shampoo to moisturising your hair with the right conditioner –– it’s all about post-treatment care too!
Is Hair Smoothening Permanent?
Depending on your hair type, hair smoothening lasts about 2- 5 months.
Does Smoothening Cause Hair Fall?
Anything that involves chemicals and extreme heat can damage your hair and cause hair fall. Nevertheless, smoothening causes less damage than hair straightening.
Does Smoothening Cause Grey Hair?
Since smoothening involves chemicals it alters the health of your hair. This may cause your hair to turn grey too.
What Is The Safest Way To Straighten Hair?
There is no ‘safe’ way to straighten your hair when using heat. There are different levels of damage in each technique, however, when using everyday tools like hair irons make sure you protect your hair with a heat protectant. As for hair straightening versus hair smoothening, the latter is more safe.
Can I Straighten Wet Hair?
No, it isn’t recommended to straighten your hair when it’s wet. Wet hair is vulnerable and more susceptible to damage. It can literally damage them beyond repair and therefore it’s best to air dry or towel dry your hair before styling it.
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When it comes to styling and straightening your hair, there are options galore! However, hair straightening and hair smoothening are the most popular ones out there. Each have their benefits and their side effects, however it is up to you and your hair needs to figure out which one works best for you. Remember to always make sure to check for chemical allergies before getting such hair treatments done!
META: Both hair straightening and hair smoothening result in smooth and shiny hair that’s straight. Find out which technique is better suited for your hair, the side effects of each, and what to expect from each of them.