Hair straightening methods have been around for generations. Once women use to iron their hair, with a regular iron, or wrap it around their heads to be opened only after the hair has dried. The problem was that you needed to do that every time you washed your hair, and the process was time consuming and sometimes painful. The chemicals that were used for hair relaxing and straightening were usually very harsh and caused damaged if not treated correctly.
But then came the Japanese hair straightening method, also known by the name Yoko system and made life so much easier for many women with wavy, curly and bulky hair. The hair is saturated with a chemical that breaks the bonds which give the hair its shape. It is then rinsed, blow dried and flat ironed. Once the neutralizer is applied the hair is locked into this straight configuration.
The up and down sides of the Japanese hair straightening system:
- The process takes a very long time – sometimes when the hair is thick it can take up to 8 hours in a hair salon.
- Because the process is so long, it is also expensive.
- The hair stays in that shape until it grows out completely, which means you have to do touch-ups when the hair grows out if you don’t want to have a curly hair close to the scalp and bone straight hair thereafter.
- You can’t do much with the hair aside from having it bone straight. It will not yield to waves and curls. Straight is what you wanted and straight is what you got.
- It is somewhat dangerous to do it on treated hair. Bleached and hair treated with Henna don’t react well with the chemicals and colored hair might be too fragile to handle a relaxer.
Then, out of Brazil, came the Brazilian hair straightening system also known by the name Keratin Treatment , Brazilian blowout, Liquid Keratin and many more. There are over 150 products that include some of those names and they have different amounts of formaldehyde in them.
The ups and downs of the keratin hair smoothing treatment are:
- When used with keratin, the chemicals don’t break the bonds of the hair, but relax it while the keratin fills in the gaps in the hair cuticle.
- The treatment is shorter, thus costing less.
- It is simpler to use than the Japanese system; therefore it can be done with do-it-yourself kits in the comfort of your own home, at a time that is best for you.
- The hair is not locked into one style. It can be set in many ways, not just bone straight.
- The treatment is temporary – usually last anywhere between 2 – 4 months, depending on the product you use. If not repeated, the hair grows as it has been growing without having to do touch ups and it doesn’t look weird.
- If you don’t want to deal with harsh chemicals such as formaldehyde, there are formaldehyde free keratin treatments. It will prevent the hair from frizzing and curling in humid weather.