The Lowdown On Hair Straightening – A Salon Owner Tells All

Rachel Adler


For girls with naturally curly hair and wavy textures, the summer heat is killer for more than one reason. The humidity is a surefire way to get a crazy, frizzed out look. Most of the time, we settle on pulling the frizzy mess back into a ponytail, but some ladies choose a more drastic route. Straightening treatments have become more and more common lately, and our curiosities were piqued. After a bit of digging, we’ve got the lowdown on what options you have and some beauty expert input courtesy of stylist Riccardo Maggiore of Riccardo Maggiore Salon in NYC.

Brazilian Keratin Treatment
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With a reputation for being gentler on the hair, the BKT has been the more popular treatment as of late. The Keratin solution strengthens and protects the hair and is applied by the stylist. A 450-degree iron is then used on the outer layer of the hair to seal in the formula giving it added moisture and that desirable glossy finish. The results lasts anywhere from six weeks to three months, depending on how often you wash your hair and how well you care for the treatment.

There are risks with this treatment as well though, since the chemicals can include formaldehyde (which is a known carcinogen and can irritate your eyes and your lungs if inhaled). But, for those of you looking for a shiny, hair commercial look, Riccardo Maggiore says, “The protein used in the BKT really helps create the smoother finish, so I would recommend this treatment for those who have dry, damaged hair.”

Japanese Hair Straightening (or Thermal Reconditioning)
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The Japanese straightening treatment is more permanent than the Keratin treatment, and will only need to be redone as your hair grows out. This treatment is recommended for people with extremely coarse, frizzy, thick hair as it uses strong chemicals and can cause breakage and damage to your hair. The treatment takes anywhere from 3-6 hours depending on the length and texture of your hair and will be permanently straight for 4-6 months. But as your new hair grows out from the root, this hair will need to be treated as well.

Japanese Hair Straightening has gotten a bad rep as of late from reports that there was serious damage to hair and bald spots after the process. This can also be due to previous chemical processes such as coloring, bleaching, or other hair relaxers. Maggiore says, “Those with curly/wavy yet healthy hair are better subjects for the Japanese Relaxing Treatment, while those with drier, more brittle strands should use the BKT, as the Japanese treatment might only further damage the hair.”

For all in-salon treatments, visit your stylist for a consultation so he or she can tell you which treatment is right for you based on your hair texture, and you can ask any questions you might have.

At Home Straightening
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Rio de Keratin Cocolada Keratin Treatment, available August 1, $100, at Photo Courtesy of RDK

Some brands are now releasing at home straightening products, such as Rio de Keratin and Phyto. With these kits, you save both time and money, but since your hair straightening process is in your own hands follow the instructions very carefully! “The general rule is that if you try doing a typical salon service at home (even something like cutting or coloring your own hair), you shouldn’t expect salon-quality results,” Maggiore informs. But he added that these new at-home treatments may work on those “with only slightly wavy hair looking to achieve a straighter style.”

These kits will nourish your hair, and depending on your hair texture, may end up just giving you defined and healthy waves. Rio de Keratin’s kit includes an all-natural Cocolada Shampoo and Conditioner to nourish and protect the hair. Most of the at-home kits include shampoo and conditioner make sure to use these products to treat your hair after the process, as you’re still using strong chemicals!

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