Taming the twists

Considering straightening your hair? Familiarise yourself with the dos and don’ts to avoid regretting your decision

Woman with straight hair

A few years back, if your hair were wavy, you just had to live with it. Not any more. Today, you can easily change the structure of your hair from curly to ramrod straight in a matter of hours. The new hair straightening techniques make it possible. But it’s a serious affair—hair straightening is a chemical procedure that permanently alters the molecular structure of your hair. During the treatment, the natural bonds of the hair are broken down to create a new shape that is straightened or relaxed, depending on the result you would like to achieve. This treatment is non-reversible. That’s why, when you decide to straighten your hair, make sure that the person carrying out the treatment on you is a certified and trained expert who knows his trade well. Since there are a variety of chemicals available in the market that can be used for the purpose, ensure that the brand you use is from a reputed company. For, a faulty treatment or a sub-standard brand can damage your hair texture irreversibly. Hence, don’t try to cut corners with either the product or the expert.

Also, hair straightening is not suitable for all hair types and textures. It’s ideal for non-coloured or mildly coloured hair, or hair that has never been treated by chemicals. It’s also good for medium-textured hair, wavy hair and thick hair.

It’s not recommended for heavily coloured, very curly [as you will have to straighten it often], naturally straight and very short hair.

Once, you’ve decided on the expert and chosen the procedure, there’s not much you can do. However, being aware of what’s going on with your hair will help avoid mistakes and heart-break.

  1. Make sure the chemical lotion is not applied to the scalp; it has to be half to one inch away from the scalp.
  2. The chemical lotion needs to be rinsed out well with water.
  3. After application, make sure the hair isn’t combed too often as during this time the bonds of the hair are broken and the hair is at its weakest form. Combing too often might result in hair breakage.
  4. When the hair is dried and flat ironed after the rinse, then it’s time for the next lotion. Ensure that ironing is done carefully—not too close to the scalp or too many times. Remember, the more the hair is ironed, the straighter the end result. This is a critical part of the treatment. Also make sure the iron being used is a ceramic-plated iron.
  5. Then comes using a lotion to neutralise the hair. This lotion fixes the new shape of the hair permanently. Your job is to make sure the lotion is applied evenly all over. The lotion can be left on the hair from anything between 10 — 15 minutes, not more.
  6. In the final conditioning treatment, ensure that the conditioner stays on for not more than 5 – 10 minutes.

Immediately after the treatment, follow the advice of the expert.

After-care

Each time you shampoo your hair, use a conditioner. Also use a serum once the conditioner is rinsed out.

Avoid using too many chemical treatments on your hair after straightening. Going for a hair spa from time-to-time helps keep the hair healthy.

If you wish to colour your hair, go for mild colours as the louder the hair colour, the stronger the chemical.

Hair straightening, if done properly, can really enhance your looks. Besides, it’s not just for women, many men experiment with hair straightening too. However, men need to make sure that the straightening is not too flat or straight, the natural-straight look works best for men.

Partial hair straightening too is a good option; it makes frizz hair manageable. Again, make sure the straightening is natural-looking so that there isn’t a high contrast between the hair that is not straightened.

This was first published in the March 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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