My ongoing battle with hair-straightening treatments

Thinking about chemically straightening your hair but don’t know where to begin? Here’s a crash course in all the treatments on the market and how well they really work, by a girl who knows...
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My ongoing battle with hair-straightening treatments

Yes, I chemically straighten my hair. Unfortunately I was born with rough, frizzy, wildly unreliable locks that no amount of product could tame, and for as long as I can remember, my hair was my biggest insecurity as it was neither curly nor straight enough, but rather a lion's mane kind-of middle ground. I normalised the idea that getting ready was a two-hour job, until eventually, at the age of 16, I discovered something that quite literally changed my life.

My cousin came over with what looked like a professional blow-dry. Sleek, soft, shiny hair in the summer? Unheard of. And yet there she was standing in front of me, giving me total hair envy. The secret? A straightening treatment.

Unable to contain my excitement, I booked an appointment at a salon the next day and the rest is history. Fast forward to today and I'm now a veritable expert in this department. I’ve tried it all. Brazilian Blowout, Japanese Perm, Hair Botox... the list goes on. So after years of experimenting with different treatments, I can now break it down for all of you and share the good, the bad, and the ugly truth behind them. Get your notebooks out, girls...

Keratin

If you’ve ever experienced even a tiny bit of frizz, you’ve probably been told by your stylist to try keratin. However, it’s not as simple as it sounds. There are different types of keratin treatments that suit some more than others.  

A traditional keratin treatment aims to straighten the hair through the use of a formaldehyde-releasing solution, leaving you with that ultra-sleek look you’ve been dreaming of. Chances are, if you’re at the salon asking for keratin, then you’re probably looking to go down the traditional route. Different branded keratin treatments like Brazilian Blowout or Crystal are some of the most popular as they really straighten out your hair's texture and add some extra shine as well.

If you’re looking to eliminate the frizz but keep your curls, a smoothing keratin treatment might be a better option. Unlike traditional keratin, these treatments are formaldehyde-free, meaning that the application process remains the same but the effects are different. Treatments like Goldwell Kerasilk or Supersilk Smoothing System will help elevate your natural look by simply taking away unwanted frizz and volume. Now for the bad news: it’s not as effective as the stronger stuff.

An important note to keep in mind is that all keratin treatments are not permanent and will eventually fade away after 3-6 months.

The Verdict: Hooked! Not only does it work well with different hair types, it lasts. And most importantly, it doesn’t damage your locks but protects them instead with a layer of protein. The result: long, thick and voluminous hair that's easy to maintain and smooth to boot.

Japanese Hair Straightening

This technique uses a load of chemicals to permanently break down the bonds of your hair, so say goodbye to those curls for good, because you’ll be walking out with super-straight locks that will stay that way.

I know that may sound like a good thing, but believe me - it’s not. My undying desire for straight hair led me to jump at the opportunity to try this treatment, ultimately walking myself into a trap. This treatment doesn’t wash out gradually, but instead has to grow out. Picture curly roots with straight lengths. DISASTER.

Your hair also becomes super-sensitive. Colouring it or applying any sort of heat will literally frazzle it to a crisp. I know from experience. My hair looked and felt awful. Not only was it falling out, but I was getting split ends faster than ever, forcing me to chop it all off.  Bye-bye long, luscious hair.

The Verdict: Stay far, far away. Not only did this ruin my hair but I was stuck in a perpetual cycle I couldn’t get out of. Every time my roots grew out I had no choice but to go back for touch-ups since the alternative seemed like an even worse option. The result; dull, paper-thin hair with ends that felt like hay. 

Hair Botox

Working to rejuvenate your strands (hence the catchy name), this treatment reverses the life-cycle of your hair by restoring damaged fibres. Think of it as a deep-conditioning treatment with some extra oomph, giving you soft and smooth hair without the frizz.

Naturally, this treatment was next on my list as I desperately needed something to help bring my hair back to life; and that it did. Most importantly, it still had some taming effects for that unwanted frizz I can’t seem to rid myself of.

The Verdict: 5 shiny stars! I've recently been trying to nurture my hair back to its natural state (with a little maintenance, of course), so this has been my go-to for the past year and I haven’t looked back. The result? My hair is slowly but surely regaining its strength. It not only feels healthy but is also starting to look it, with some thickness reappearing back in my ends. Phew!

Photos: iStock, Instagram and supplied