Likely, there is a point in almost every person’s life where they wish their hair took on a different texture. Indeed, we often want what we can’t have - if you have curly hair, you likely have wanted straight hair at some point, and if you have straight hair, you surely have vied for some curl and bounce at some point.
With modern hair solutions, most people can modify their hair to their likening. However, it often comes at a price. For people looking to straighten their locks chemically, the process is usually successful, but it does not come without consequences.
How Does Chemical Straightening Work?
You likely have heard of a hairstyling process called getting a permanent or perm. Most readily, we think people who get a perm want to add curl to their hair. But, a permanent can also help your hair lay flat.
A perm is a chemical process that causes ‘permanent’ changes to the hair follicle. It is usually performed by a professional in a hair salon, but there are also some at-home kits. Chemical straightening usually starts with applying a chemical solution that alters how the proteins in your hair align.
Essentially, the chemical solution breaks the bonds between these proteins so that your hair no longer holds curl or wave. There is a fine line on how many protein bonds you should break, as breaking too many bonds can leave your hair completely limp and lifeless.
After the chemical solution is on your hair for a while, a neutralizer is then applied. The neutralizer helps to re-form the bonds between proteins, allowing the follicles to maintain their new shape. From start to finish, this process can take quite a bit of time (up to several hours). During this time, you have to be careful not to sweat, and you also have to consider that you will be exposed to breathing harsh chemicals during the treatment.
Do Chemical Straighteners Damage Your Hair?
There is no easy way around this -- chemical straightening does damage your hair. Indeed, that is how it gives you the look you are aiming for: by breaking the proteins in your hair to reveal straighter locks. Breaking down the proteins in your hair can have real consequences.
Firstly, it can cause your hair to go limp and lifeless, especially if the hair is already damaged or the treatment is on your hair for too long. When hair is chemically damaged, it becomes hard to style and can take a long time to dry. It is also common for hair follicles to break off.
There are also other issues with using chemical straighteners. The chemicals in permanents can be harmful to your body. In fact, some of these chemicals are well-known carcinogens like formaldehyde. When left on your skin, it can cause burning, irritation, and redness on your skin. And when it is inhaled, it can irritate and burn your lungs and nasal passages as well.
Are There Natural or Safer Options?
It would seem there should be a better solution than using permanents with chemicals like formaldehyde, but the reality is you cannot achieve chemical straightening without harsh chemicals. Some options are marketed as natural or formaldehyde-free. Still, these products usually contain chemicals that are similar to formaldehyde or even become formaldehyde when heated up (which is usually part of chemical straightening). Thus, the labels on the back of chemical straightening products do not always reveal the truth about what is in the product.
If you do choose to do chemical straightening, you can look for a product that is lye-free or alkaline-sulfate-based. Per the Environmental Working Group, these options are generally safer than traditional chemical straighteners.
Reversing the Damages From Chemical Straightening
Managing limp, lifeless, damaged hair from chemical straightening gets old. It used to be the only way to reverse the effects of permanents was to let your natural hair grow out. However, your hair can take years to grow out, and many of us don’t want to wait that long.
The best way to quicken hair restoration and return your hair to its healthy, normal state is to use a product that will restructure the bonds between the proteins in your hair cuticles. The NIA FIX Instant Bond and Cuticle Restructuring System from DS Laboratories physically repairs cuticles in a two-step process: the first step is an Instant Bond Creator Foam followed by an Energizing Hair Mask. Together, this system re-bonds your hair proteins and restores your hair health.
To fully treat your hair, you will also need to use a shampooing product that also targets protein repair. Our shampoo products can often be drying and damaging to our hair follicles, which can make treating chemically damaged hair that much harder. The NIA shampoo and conditioner works to gently clean your hair while simultaneously reinforcing the hair surface and reducing breakage and split ends. Paired with the NIA FIX system, you can reverse the effects of chemical straightening,
Bring Life Back To Your Hair
Finally, for people who have sensitive skin or have damaged their scalp with chemical straightening treatment, you may need to use a gentle shampooing system on your scalp. The RADIA High-Performance Shampoo System is for people who need to protect their hair from environmental damage and detox their hair from chemical buildup. Similarly, it also helps manage frizz, which is common after chemical hair treatments.
To start reversing the damaging effects of chemical straightening, chat with an advisor at DS Laboratories who can help you find the right product to help you meet your hair goals.