Ask The Expert

Which hair straightening method is best for me?

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Admit it, we all love rocking beautifully straightened hair from time to time. Be it a coarse 4c texture or the loose curls of a 3C girl; it’s always extra chic to rock straight hair. But, how do you know which technique is best for your specific needs?

Have no fear; The Cut Life is here to get you the “deets” on all you need to know about the most commonly used professional techniques.

Chemical Relaxers

We all know about that good ole’ creamy crack, and what “they” tell us about it. But the truth is, it isn’t that bad for most people. If you would like to permanently straighten your natural hair, there is a safe way to do it! Professional stylists know the proper way to perform this chemical treatment, and hair care companies are now creating protective serums that help prevent the strands from being over processed. These protective serums or “pre-chemicals” help create an even playing field for the relaxer and allows the process to work evenly throughout the hair. As a result, you get healthy, relaxed hair.

Lye vs. No-Lye Relaxers

There are many different types of chemical relaxers out on the market, with very different chemical makeups. However, most beauty supply brands carry popular “no lye” relaxers like ORS Olive Oil or Gentle Treatment. But what is the real difference?

  • Lye-based Relaxers

Lye relaxers are the oldest chemical relaxer available and by far the harshest on the hair strands. Lye relaxer is made up of Sodium hydroxide, which is the same chemical found in drain cleaner. So, it is safe to say it is best to be out with the old and in with the new in this case.

  • No-Lye Relaxers

No lye relaxers are advertised as a newer healthier development for hair straightening. These relaxers are made up of Lithium Hydroxide and Potassium Hydroxide, which allows for the same performance and results as the Lye relaxer system.

How powerful should you relaxer be?

Most chemicals relaxers come in three strength levels: mild, regular, and super. Each relaxer’s strength has a different concentration of hydroxide. A professional stylist ought to assess which strength would be best for you.

  • Mild relaxers are for those with fine, color treated, or mildly damaged hair. Mild strength will allow for the hair to be straightened without over processing or further damage.
  • Regular strength relaxers are for regular hair, easy right? If your hair is in good condition, and there is no visible damage, then this is the relaxer strength for you.
  • Super relaxers are not commonly used as they have the most hydroxide and can become very damaging. The best candidates for a super relaxer are those with very coarse, extremely curly, and resistant hair. It is recommended that you allow a professional stylist assess your hair before choosing super strength relaxers.

Silk pressing vs. Press-n-curls

Yes, I remember the days when my grandma would pull out the ole school hot comb and straighten my hair. The smell of the iron burning on the stove, while I squeezed my eyes shut as she “singed” my edges for church. I love you grandma, but luckily there are newer tools with temperature controls and are made of metals that allow a safer and healthier straightening process.

Silk pressing allows natural hair gals to enjoy straight hair without damaging their natural curl pattern. When the hair is properly silk pressed, it will revert to its naturally curly state without damaged or loosened curls. So how do we prevent damage?

The key to a successful silk press is the good flat iron, heat protectant, and moisture. Now I am not suggesting that you add loads of oil or moisturizer to your hair before straightening it. The moisturizing must start well before the straightening process by washing and deep conditioning with quality moisturizing products.

Oil-infused shampoos and conditioners help aid the hair in staying straight. Products like Cream of Nature Argan Oil shampoo and conditioner are a great help (in most cases) when performing silk press services.

Keratin Treatments

Keratin straightening treatments are for semi-permanent straightening processes, in other words, this product is not intended to break your hair bonds. The keratin system is a commonly used chemical treatment for naturals clients. However, this not to be confused with keratin conditioners or pomades, as keratin alone cannot straighten your hair.

Most keratin chemical systems are partly made up of formalin, and when heat activated, it turns into formaldehyde. Once the chemical service is performed, the hair is blow dried and finished with a flat iron press. The keratin chemical treatment leaves the hair less frizzy and can last up to three to five months.

Please note, poorly executed and mismanaged keratin chemical treatments can result in permanently straightened hair. Sadly, many naturalistas are forced to cut inches of hair due to over processing, which left their curls loose and dry.

Have any other questions about relaxers, silk presses or keratin treatments? Send me a message at @kleorose_style on IG!

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