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Salon Hair Straightening Methods:
Smooth Frizz & Curl with Permanent Straightening


If curly hair has you in desperate straits, you have a few options for taking control. The most user-friendly but least effective mode of straightening or relaxing your hair is probably the home-use flat iron, a ceramic heater that flattens the hair and applies heat to temporarily smooth and straighten it. Perfect for use when your style of the moment requires sleekness, flat irons are quick, convenient and relatively inexpensive. You may also want to buy hair products that maximize the smoothness you can get from a flat iron: deep conditioners or glosses for after care can help keep your hair soft even after it's been through the fire. Pay attention to hair care tips after straightening: your hair will be more fragile than before.

Chemical Relaxers for Really Curly Hair

For serious straightening of super curly hair, many African American women turn to chemical relaxers, often done in the safety of the beauty salon. Made with ingredients much like permanent solutions, chemical relaxers work by breaking down, reforming and then solidifying the protein bonds in the hair shaft. If you have a friend with lots of experience and a kitchen timer, you can probably do chemical relaxing at home with a product from a beauty supply store, but if you're nervous at all about potential results, or if your hair has damage from previous stylistic explorations, you may want to work with a professional stylist to get the hairstyle you want.

Permanent Hair Straightening in a Professional Salon

The latest thing in hair straightening is called Japanese Thermal Hair Straightening, a process that combines chemical relaxers with hair irons, for a permanently straightened head of hair. Of course, since hair does grow, the straightened part will eventually grow out and need replacing, but since most hair grows at a rate of about a half-inch per month, many people don't even need a touch-up until six months later—or more. Long hair will show the curl less, since the weight at the bottom will pull it down more than the ends of short or medium hair. Whether you want o get rid of a little wave or an all-out Afro, the process will work: for long, curly air, it will take longer.

But thermal straightening costs a lot—often more than $500—and you can't get your best friend to do it over the kitchen sink, because we're talking high-tech processing here. There are at least two applications of a perm-like fluid, the first to break the bonds of the hair, and the second to harden it. In between, the stylist smoothes and straightens small portions of hair with a special iron until all the hair is perfectly straight. Afterwards, there is rinsing and conditioning. Your stylist will tell you not to get your hair wet for the next 24-48 hours, or you could lose all that nice smoothness.

The people who tout thermal straightening are right in that the hair, when done right, is smooth, shiny and straight as can be. It is not impervious to humidity, and no matter how good it looks, it's not "healthy". After subjecting your hair to alkaline chemicals, heat extremes and a couple of blow-drying episodes in a process that lasts four hours or more, it would be silly to think that your hair won't be drier, stressed and more likely to break. Deep conditioning is the answer, and avoidance of all things chemical. For perfect straightness, you'll still have to blow dry it, but it will still be quite straight if you let it air dry. If you've always wanted a head of board-straight hair falling in a silky curtain to your shoulders, with very little upkeep, here's how to get it.

Some popular flat iron brands include: Chi, Sedu & Solia





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