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What are the effects of straightener treatments on your hair?
Philip Kingsley answer to: ‘What are the effects of straighteners/tongs and keratin treatments on your hair? How damaging is it & how do you prevent/minimize this damage?’
The lack of a finished hair style has immense psychological importance: To attain ultimate satisfaction often means doing procedures that can harm the hair strands in the long term. Amongst these procedures are straightening, either with hot tongs or chemical means – or even by pulling the hair straight with a brush and blowdryer. Hair has an inherent elasticity (stretchability) and can undergo a 30% increase in stretch before breakage. Repeated procedures, as just mentioned, diminish this elasticity and make the hair liable to break easily. Furthermore, hair cells have a moisture content, and this too is gradually diminished. (Hair’s dryness is due to lack of moisture). The way to prevent or minimize this damage is to use moisturizing protective products during and after whatever procedure is being used. It is also highly important when blow drying to stop drying at the right time. Using heat on already dried hair can cause damage and breakage. As this is unavoidable when using straighteners or tongs, be extra careful.
Keratin treatments are another matter. There is no doubt that the straightening results are good. However, there is a big problem: Formaldehyde. To have the desired effect, formaldehyde (or a similar chemical) has to be in the formula. It is a dangerous ingredient and there are States in the United States that have banned its use. Many hairdressers using “keratin treatments” wear a mask over their mouth and nose for example. It is known to be carcinogenic and irritating to the skin, even as far as being allergenic and causing skin rashes. Nevertheless, there is an argument that using keratin treatments is better for your hair’s condition in the long run, as they are only done every eight to twelve weeks or so. However, again it is important to remember the carcinogenic and allergenic properties of it.
If one of these procedures is used, the only way to minimize damage to the hair is the use of an intensive conditioning pre-shampoo hair mask. This information on keratin treatments, which do change the molecular structure of the hair, will not stop women from having it done because frizzy, very curly hair is a nuisance. But there are styling products that can counteract frizz and curliness. Ingredients to look for when choosing protective and smoothing products are: any form of silicone and natural oils such as babassu oil (for finer hair), castor seed oil and olive oil. Waxes and water as a hydrator are also beneficial, as well as glycol.
By Philip Kingsley