In the quest for sleek and manageable hair, two popular treatments often come into the spotlight: hair smoothening and hair straightening. These transformative haircare techniques offer different approaches to achieving your desired look.
In this article, we’ll explore their key differences, benefits, and considerations to help you make an informed choice for your locks.
Professional hair styling might sound complicated to those used to homegrown hair styling practices. But with the trend of owning curl or wave-free tresses that stay in place gaining traction, more women are seen gearing towards the salon for hair straightening or relaxing procedures to obtain tangle-free straight hair.
Contrary to other hair styling methods such as curling, crimping and rolling, hair straightening and smoothening not only work on moulding hair but also intend to improve hair texture to minimize any chances of frizzing and flyaways.
What is Hair Straightening?
Hair straightening is a hair styling method incorporated to attain frizz-free hair with each hair strand straightened to perfection.
Most women like to go for a straightening treatment right before an event. Some resort to this process to gain freedom from unruly curly hair that takes hours to style and care for; while some others seek this treatment merely for aesthetic reasons to get a high-definition look that accentuates their facial features and face shape.
The duration for which the straightening effect lasts largely rests on the type of treatment enlisted to obtain a straightened look.
Types of Hair Straightening Treatments
1. Natural Hair Straightening
There are numerous ways to straighten and relax wavy hair at home utilizing natural methods such as hot oil, hair sprays and hair masks that work on straightening hair by reinfusing moisture and nutrients.
A reason that goes in favour of all these methods is that they come with zero damage risk.
The effect, however, might not be the same as with chemical hair straightening methods but you can try them to get straight hair that lasts for 24 hours.
2. Heat Straightening
Flat irons and hair straightening brushes have already created a stir in the hair styling segment. These tools use heat in controlled settings to ease out curls or waves in your hair.
Hence, these are intended to be used sparingly as using them now and then might burn your hair and strip it of moisture and nutrients leading your hair to become brittle and prone to breakage.
3. Hair Rebonding
This is a chemical hair treatment done in a salon. It works by changing the structure of hair cells to internally straighten each strand of hair.
Hair rebonding is carried out in several steps, the most important one being the application of a hair relaxant that usually contains formaldehyde.
This chemical helps break the hydrogen bonds and rearrange them to make hair sleek and straightened for up to 6 weeks.
The results you get after receiving this hair treatment are stunning but they don’t come without risks.
Frequent exposure to formaldehyde is known to be fatal not only for hair but your health. Hence, it’s best to seek this treatment only when you feel you need it.
4. Japanese Hair Straightening
This process is similar to hair rebonding, the only difference being the usage of cysteine solution that is applied to hair to break the chemical structure so it responds well to hair straightening done using an electric hair straightener.
Once the hair is straightened, it is treated with a neutralizer to protect the hair from losing its newly acquired texture.
What you get is hair that’s silky smooth and straight. With this treatment, you won’t need to re-straighten your hair for six months at the least.
5. Keratin Hair Treatment
This treatment works in conjunction with the natural texture and growth pattern of hair.
It infuses the body and structure of damaged hair tissues with a healthy dose of keratin, a protein that gives your hair its body and texture.
Unlike chemical hair straightening methods, this treatment adds volume to your hair and protects it from damage brought on by heat styling. Once you get your hair straightened with keratin treatment, you can expect the effect to last for six months.
Benefits of Chemical Hair Straightening
- Helps achieve poker-straight hair
- Hair can stay straight for up to 1 year
- Alters hair structure to ensure hair stays straight even when it grows long
- Tames frizz, flyaways
- Works best on dense, curly hair
Pitfalls of Chemical Hair Straightening
- Might damage hair tissues
- Straightening is done on a high heat setting which leaves hair moisture less
- Should be used sparingly and with caution
- You have to completely give up heat styling and flat irons for six months
- The hair doesn’t look shiny
- Might make hair look unnatural if tried on dry, damaged hair
- Utilizes harsh chemicals
What is Hair Smoothening?
Hair smoothening is a hair-relaxing treatment employed to eliminate curls, waves and frizziness from hair with therapies delivered to improve its health.
A reason that makes it a favoured option is its prowess in restoring natural lustre and texture to dry, lifeless hair. This process is in many ways similar to hair rebonding or chemical hair straightening but comes with much less risk and the naturally straightened appearance it delivers as opposed to poker straight hair.
This process is best carried out by a trained hairstylist. Before starting this treatment, a complete assessment of the hair is done to ensure the products used in the process suit your hair type and cure any existing damage.
- The treatment starts with a shampoo and blow dry.
- The hair is then treated with a hair smoothening cream to let the hair strands absorb the essential amino acids. It repairs hair tissues and makes them sleeker, manageable and straighter.
- Post this treatment, hair is rinsed with warm water and is sectioned.
- Each section is passed through a flat iron set on low heat to achieve a naturally straight look.
- The straightening in a hair smoothening treatment is done on a low heat setting to ensure zero damage.
This process can take a long time but once it’s complete the hair stays straight and smooth for three months.
Types of Hair Smoothening Treatments
1. Natural Hair Smoothening
This method is for those who don’t wish to visit a salon to get their hair smoothened. It utilizes natural hair-smoothening ingredients like honey, olive oil, yoghurt and milk to naturally relax and cure damaged hair strands.
After this, you have to shampoo your hair and let it air dry. The hair is then straightened on a low heat setting to naturally straighten any uneven sections or waves.
The results you get might not last as long as with commercial hair smoothening creams.
2. Amino Acid Hair Smoothening
In this particular method, hair is treated with a hair smoothening cream consisting of either Cysteine or Olaplex, two types of amino acids that help rebuild hair structure to attain smooth, tangle-free hair.
The smoothening cream is allowed to stay on the hair for up to 30 minutes and is then rinsed with warm water.
The hair is then straightened with a flat iron or a hair straightener and brush set on low heat. With this procedure, you can have smooth and straight hair for over three months.
3. Brazilian Blowout
This treatment is earning great attention from beauty freaks as it helps infuse keratin into hair before it is straightened. However, it is not the same as a Keratin treatment and differs in the concentration of keratin-based products applied to hair.
- Brazilian blowout starts with a shampoo and blow dry.
- The next step involves treating hair with a mild keratin solution that works to repair any broken hair bonds.
- After this, hair is straightened with a flat iron or a hair straightening brush.
The results stay for over three months.
- With this method, you have to follow a strict hair care regimen after you get this treatment done.
- This involves staying away from chemicals and using only sulfate-free shampoos.
- Also, you need to skip shampooing hair for 4 – 5 days, after getting a Brazilian blowout done.
Benefits of Hair Smoothening
- Makes hair naturally straight
- Imparts glossiness to hair
- Hair feels soft and nourished
- Can be done every three months
- You can safely use a hair straightener once a month (in case the waves begin to appear)
- Protects hair from damage
- Tames frizz, flyaways
- Utilizes hair-rebuilding agents and amino acids that pose minimal risk to hair health
- Works best on dry, wavy hair
Pitfalls of Hair Smoothening
- Fails to achieve a poker straight look
- Does not alter hair structure
- Results are not long-lasting
Hair Straightening vs Hair Smoothening: Which is the Best Option for You?
Whether you’re seeking a straightened appearance or a luminous finish added to your straightened hair, it all depends on your requirements and the existing condition of your hair.
Comparing hair straightening and hair smoothening treatments without considering the health of your hair would not justify the individual results achieved with these two treatment options.
The core difference between the two treatments lies in the care they deliver to hair.
- If you want to make your curly, unruly hair manageable, straightening is the best option but it has to be undertaken with caution.
- In case your hair is damaged, you need to pay special attention to its nutrition needs and avoid using harsh hair products.
- Hair smoothening is meant to attain a naturally straightened appearance and works best on wavy hair. It might not work as well on curly hair as it does on wavy or flat hair.
- Hair smoothening is a mild process that helps tame waviness and soft curls. It leaves hair nourished and luminous.
With both these procedures you need to follow a special set of maintenance rules that let your hair stay straight for longer and protect it from any kind of external damage.
After getting these treatments, you have to skip shampooing for 3 -5 days and avoid frequent combing or styling.
Hair Care Tips For Straightened/ Smoothened Hair:
- Use a natural hair serum before combing hair
- Give up curling and other hair styling methods for up to three months
- Use sulfate-free shampoos
- Avoid frequent colouring or hair bleaching (wait for at least 15 days after getting the treatments)
- Abstain from chemical hair dyes, colours
- Wash hair once a week with warm untreated water and let it air dry
- Avoid tying hair up in a towel. Just wrap it around the hair and let it soak excess water
- Abstain from frequent hair oiling (once a week is fine)
- See a dermatologist/trichologist and report to your hair stylist if you notice any signs of allergic reaction post-treatment
Recommended Article: Tame Your Unruly Hair With These 5 Hair Straightening Brushes!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Can you get hair straightening or smoothening done on colour-treated hair?
Yes, you can try these treatments on colour-treated hair but they should not be done simultaneously. If you have just coloured your hair, wait for a week before getting your hair straightened or smoothened. Also, the type of hair colour plays a key role in determining the period of abstinence from colouring treatments.
Sticking to natural, ammonia-free hair colours is considered safer if you wish to go for these hair-relaxing treatments but the frequency should be kept to a minimum – every 3 to 4 weeks is ideal. You can touch up greying hair near the scalp with colouring sprays or root touch-up sticks rather than using hair dye all over your hair.
Q. How often can you use a hair straightener on previously straightened hair?
A hair straightener is ideally used every fortnight to minimize the chance of damage caused by exposure to heat. On previously straightened hair (chemical straightening) they should only be used on the fifth or sixth month of getting the treatment.
In any case, you need to completely abstain from heat styling procedures and stick to a blow dryer, put on ‘cool’ mode and rely on a wide-tooth comb to gently ease out any tangles.
Q. How often can you get a hair smoothening process done?
Depends on the products you use. If you are going for cysteine and keratin-based smoothening treatments you can get the treatment done every 5 – 8 weeks.
Q. Do natural hair straightening methods work?
Yes, they do work in improving hair texture and achieving a straightened sleek appearance but the results last only between 24 – 48 hours.
Q. Is hair smoothening/ straightening safe for everyone?
Both these methods intend to aesthetically improve hair texture and lend a sleek, polished appearance. They should be tried on hair with a healthy scalp with no signs of dandruff, irritation or allergies.