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Tips For Straightening Hair

Consider one of three new approaches to straightening your hair.

If you have curly or wavy hair, you’ve no doubt tried any number of methods to straighten it—from heavy-duty blow-drying sessions to pressing your locks on Mom’s ironing board. (Remember how much those cheek burns hurt?)

Thanks to technological advances over the last few years, help is finally here. Three new approaches are definitely worth considering, depending on the time and money you want to invest.

As with any major change, be sure to discuss all of your options with your hairstylist, who can provide individualized attention and advice based on your hair type and condition.

Isn’t It Iron-ic?

There’s a whole new breed of flat irons on the market today—specialized straightening irons with flat ceramic plates. Most of the better models have adjustable temperature settings that reach up to 400°F.

Not only will these new irons make your hair as straight as the proverbial stick, but they will also add shine and eliminate frizz.

Best of all, these handheld, ergonomically designed irons can be easily used at home, with only a short learning curve and relative speed. The only real disadvantage? You have to repeat the ironing process each time you shampoo.

Top manufacturers include Conair, Wigo, Salono and Chi, with models that cost between $40 and $225. Read product features carefully to select the iron that best meets your needs, and consider your purchase an investment.

Just Relax!

The second approach to consider is use of a relaxing agent—a chemical straightening process that African-American women have been utilizing for decades, which changes the basic structure of the hair follicle.

There are different relaxer strengths: mild, regular and strong. One of the best ways to determine the strength best suited for your hair is a strand test. This may involve simply pulling on a hair strand to determine its elasticity, or putting a small amount of relaxer on the strand to gauge its reaction. If, for example, your hair is fine and only moderately elastic, you will probably want to use a mild relaxer.

Experts agree that a licensed, experienced stylist should perform chemical relaxing services in the salon. A qualified professional will know which products to use for your hair type, how to protect the integrity of your hair and how to prevent chemical burns. The process, which usually takes a few hours, generally costs between $200 and $400.

It Can’t Get Much Straighter Than This…

Japanese thermal reconditioning is the newest trend in hair straightening, receiving a tremendous buzz in salons and the media.

This, too, is a chemical process, and the most widely known seems to be the Yuko System. Developed in Japan, it enjoys great success among Caucasian women, but many African-American clients find it to be too severe for their more delicate hair.

Performed in the salon, thermal reconditioning requires the stylist to apply a chemical treatment to the hair, followed by ironing each strand. The process, which yields truly amazing results, may take several hours to complete and costs anywhere from $800 to $1,500.

With thermal reconditioning, your hair remains straight regardless of weather conditions. Other than cost, the only downside is that new hair growth will appear curly (or your natural texture). Treatments must be repeated for regrowth.

Before paying a stylist for any thermal reconditioning treatment, make sure she is experienced in the process. There have been some reports of hair damage, usually involving stylists who have received insufficient training or are new to the procedure.

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