Chemical hair treatments are a good way to keep your hair smooth over a long period of time, but the real challenge begins after the straightening is done. Here, we asked experts to tell you what to keep in mind before and after you straighten your hair
Permanently straightened strands, especially the care required after straightening hair, can be hard work. But when you are battling frizz and humid climates on the daily, a long-term solution can be a godsend. While everyone has their own reasons for opting for chemical straightening, the rules for the aftercare are universal. You may have nodded along dutifully when your hairstylist warned you against using sulphate shampoos, but to get the most out of your treatment, you should understand how it works first. We brought in celebrated Delhi-based hairstylist Rod Anker, and Mumbai's renowned skincare specialist Dr Harshna Bijlani, to help you cover your basics.
What are the different types of chemical hair straightening treatments?
In ascending order of permanency, your options range from Cysteine treatments to Keratin and Olaplex, and finally, rebonding. The latter will provide you with aggressively straight locks—by breaking the natural bonds in frizzy hair, and replacing it with bonds in the desired structure.
“The strong chemicals used in these treatments penetrate your hair and break the bonds, which changes of the shape and texture of your hair,” says Dr Harshna Bijlani. “While this is what you want from a straightening treatment, it also damages your tresses. Contrary to popular belief, all straightening solutions are not the same. Ideally, you should go for a consultation with your hair expert to examine your hair's porosity, texture, density, curl pattern in various areas, and its overall health, and then determine the right treatment for you with his or her help.”
After hair straightening: The products you can use
“Any shampoo with sulphates is a big no-no, as it is extremely harsh on the scalp,” explains Rod Anker. “Switch to sulphate-free hair products to avoid further eroding the health of your locks.”
“You can also try to shampoo less frequently, maybe once in two-three days. You can condition more often if you need to, though. Opt for a hair spa once every two weeks to salvage your hair from the sun and pollution damage,” adds Dr Bijlani.
Does straightened hair get damaged by the environment?
“All hair gets damaged by the environment, especially straightened hair,” says Dr Bijlani. “Your hair has been stripped of its natural oils and been exposed to chemicals. This leaves your locks more sensitive to environmental elements, like the sun, weather changes and pollution. This is what makes it essential to implement a good haircare regimen after opting for a permanent straightening treatment, to prevent hair fall.”
What should my at-home haircare routine look like if I have straightened hair?
“Stick to your normal haircare routine—wash every two-three days, condition just as often, or more if required. Straightened hair tends to be drier and brittle, so try to include deep conditioning once a week or every 10 days. A good tip to retain moisture after straightening your hair would be to use a good quality leave-in hair serum after you shampoo it. Start incorporating hair vitamins into your diet before you go in for the straightening session—this will help strengthen your hair, while preventing hair fall and thinning. Apart from this, try to maintain a healthy diet that is rich in antioxidants and good fats to strengthen your tresses,” adds the dermatologist.
Anker says, “Since chemical hair straightening is a harsh treatment, you need to observe certain precautions. You can't do whatever you want to it, and still expect it to feel soft. Stay away from heated styling implements.” Bijlani adds, "If you absolutely must use a blow-dryer, opt for the cool mode to avoid damaging your hair with heat. Right after the treatment, avoid swimming or going on a vacation that will leave your hair exposed to the sun for long periods.”
How long will straightened hair last?
“Keep a razor-sharp eye on the condition of your hair, and opt for a trim every six-eight weeks. This will help get rid of any split ends and damaged edges. Alternatively, you may also find that getting a Keratin treatment is a better option in the long run for the health of your hair. While it merely relaxes the hair and doesn't make it poker straight, it doesn't grow out and leave behind curly roots and flyaways either, like the others,” says Anker.
“If you're looking to get a hair colour job as well, make sure you go for your straightening treatment first, as most processes start with a clarifying shampoo that may wash away your colour,” says Dr Bijlani.
How do I decide between temporary and permanent hair straightening?
Take an objective call on which treatment provides results that better align with your lifestyle choices. “Chemically straightening your hair will ensure manageable tresses for a longer period of time. You won't need to invest time or money in temporary hair treatments that utilise heat and damage your hair on a daily basis. On the flip side, it alters the bonds of your hair, and can cause long-term repercussions by making your hair coarse and brittle. The harsh chemicals used can also actively contribute to hair fall and hair thinning,” explains Dr Bijlani.
“Temporary hair straightening treatments are actually kinder to your strands, and don't alter the natural bonds on your hair. However, they may not hold up against extremely frizzy or curly hair, and might require regular upkeep and maintenance, which will involve both cost and time,” she adds.
article is written by Hasina Khatib for vogue