We interviewed Belinda Jeffery of
La Boutique, a renowned hair technical specialist with many awards
to her credit on the pros and cons of conventional permanent straightening.
For information on the new Thermal or Japanese method use the
link in the top left corner.
Belinda believes that : "straightening
is a very specialised area and not just because I am one but because
so many things can go wrong should only ever be done by a specialist.
Hair must be assessed for suitability as the process won't always
work and can be very damaging to some types of hair". She
also recommends that a piece of your hair is tested to see how
it reacts before you have a straightener.
"You have to be aware of the
limitations as it is not always possible to straighten if your
hair has had a lot done to it in the past".
With most products on the market today
you can't permanently relax or straighten your hair if:
- it has been permanently coloured/tinted
with a high volume strength peroxide or bleached. Even if only
a little is left in the ends of your hair you will need to have
it cut out first! Semi or non-permanent colours do not effect
the ability to straighten hair chemically.
- you swim in chlorinated water a
lot (salt water is fine, in fact it's good for it!).
- you have fine blonde hair. It can
be done but can look dry and damaged and frizz easily.
Best results with chemical straightening
are found with:
- Strong dark hair
- Grey hair
Belinda reckons that "Hair has to
retain a healthy shine and dark hair does this naturally and is
not adversely affected by the chemicals used in the process. Really
curly hair will never go dead straight but will relax to such
a degree that you can get it straight easily when you blow-dry
The process and the associated treatments
and cut, will take from 2 hours for short hair to about 5 hours
for really long hair. " A treatment is always necessary
to restore moisture and sheen, and a cut is needed to remove dry
ends and because a cut that works on curly hair never works on
straight". It will cost between $AU80 and $AU200 and
then you need 'at-home' products to go with it. "For me take-home
products are the most important area of the whole straightening
process, if you don't use all the right shampoos, treatments and
blow-dry protecting sprays it doesn't last and can look dry and
frizzy" says Belinda.
'At home' care:
- It is very important not to wash
your hair for 2 days following a chemical straightening process
as washing prior to this can cause the curl to come back.
- You will need a specially designed
shampoo and conditioner.
- A once-a-week treatment is also
a part of keeping your hair in good shape.
- Always use a thermal protector when
blow-drying to prevent heat damage from your hairdryer.
Depending on the length of your hair,
every 2 to 3 months is the average time between straightenings.
If you decide to grow it out, i.e. go back to curly, some curl
will return overtime to the straightened hair but it will only
be completely gone when it's cut out. If you decide to colour
your hair again, you will have to wait until the straightened
hair has been cut out as the colour over the old straightened
hair is damaging. You can however, use a semi/non permanent colour
with no problems.
At the end of the day, choosing what
you want is what it's all about and we hope these tips will help
you make the right decisions about how to go about it.
With thanks to Belinda Jeffery of
La Boutique Sydney, Anthony Nader of Raw Hair Sydney, Paul Brown
Hawaii and Margaret of Makarizo Perth for information and reference
Products that are used
to straighten hair on a permanent basis are referred to as either
"relaxers" or "straighteners".
When thinking about straightening
your hair, a little extra knowledge about the process and any
contraindications can be of invaluable help.
What does it involve?
Straightening is a way of chemically
altering the structure of your hair so as to break the bonds that
keep it curly, then reforming your hair in a straighter or less
curly form. The process is very similar to having a perm (not
that you would have had one if you have naturally curly hair but
your friends might)!
Firstly, a lotion is applied for
anything from 5 to 30 min on average, this is then rinsed away
and a second lotion applied for another 5 to 10 min. Finally lots
of conditioners are applied. Times vary depending on products
used and this information is given only as a guide to help you
feel more comfortable. However if concerned, don't just sit in
the chair like a stunned mullet expecting the hairdresser to work
out telepathically that you have a problem. Speak up!
You will need about 2 hours salon
time to get this done and a haircut will need to be added to that.
The cut should not be missed as the shape that worked in the past
was for curly hair and your new straighter hair will not suit
the old shape.
Get your hairdresser to recommend
aftercare products or consult our Diagnosis section. Chemically
straightened hair will need more intense products to keep it healthy
than it did before.
The result is as permanent as the
time it takes for new hair to grow. It does, however, relax or
get a little less straight over time as the straightened bonds
in the hair can reform, to a small degree, making your hair more
wavy than when first done. This can be seen as a positive, as
a curly or afro regrowth and "dead pan" straight ends
can look a little funny.
Colouring/Bleaching and Straightening
Having your hair coloured and using
a straightener could result in damage to your hair. It's not that
either of these are dangerous or damaging by themselves, but when
they are combined, they can be simply too much for your poor old
hair to handle.
VirtualHairCare would not recommend
- A mix of bleach (all over or
in heavy highlight form) and straighteners.
- A mix of permanent tint of
30vol (9%) plus and straighteners.
VirtualHairCare would recommend that
- Semi or demi permanent colour
that lasts for 6 to 8 weeks with your straightener.
- Temporary or wash-in/washout
colour which will often last a few washes over straightened
hair (check out the colour section for detailed information).
Try booking a consultation with a
straightening specialist and getting an opinion on whether a straightener
would work with what is already on your hair. A professional hairdresser
will often take what is called a "test strand" (basically a clipping
of your hair) and pop it in to a bowl with the chemical straightener
to assess its ability to remain in good condition. If the result
is that you should not try this on your hair please take this
advice. It is always possible to find a less professional hairdresser
who will do what you want and the result could be that you end
up with the new "emergency short look", so please don't take our
Too straight after a relaxer or
If you find yourself in this position
it is often because too strong a straightener was used for your
hair type. Try a cut with a few layers next time and make sure
you tell your hairdresser that your had a problem so that they
don't use the same product again.