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“I do maintain that if your hair is wrong, your entire life is wrong.” – Steven Patrick Morrissey
How are we today? Fantabulous, I’m sure! Well, today I’m going to have a quick chat about hair smoothing and preventing damage. It seems, with time and technology, we are presented with a zillion solutions to our day to day issues and when we have so many solutions before us, issues don’t seem like issues any more. Everything is at our beck and call and we are able to bid farewell to bad hair days, bad skin days and so on. Women who have frizzy hair that refuses to be tamed have the option today of simply booking an appointment with their hair dresser and walking out of the salon after a couple of hours with the silkiest of hair.
Yes, it’s just that simple and if we can afford it, then why not! However, with so many choices available, affordable prices and uncountable marketing gimmicks ruling the world, we are not only spoilt for choice, but sometimes fall prey to treatments that can be harmful without realizing the consequences.
Some of us get lucky when we fall into good hands who not only make us aware of things but persuade us not to try certain treatments as it’s not necessary. I met a friend who smoothed her hair recently and when I saw her after a few months she was complaining that her hair was falling out and she was getting a lot of breakage. I asked her why she did it in the first place as her
hair was quite good, to be honest. But, she said that her hair dresser advised her to go for a hair smoothing treatment as she had frizzy hair. Trust me, her hair wasn’t all that frizzy; but, like I said we often fall prey to things which we can do without and should consider only when it’s really necessary.
I have frizzy hair and sometimes its manageable, sometimes it doesn’t behave and I too would like to smoothen out my hair one day, but will only do it if I have convinced myself enough that I’m ready to stress my hair by undergoing the procedure and will bend backwards to nurture it
For those of you who have done a smoothing treatment or plan to go ahead for one any time soon, by all means, be prepared to give your hair that extra TLC so that you are not faced with post-treatment trauma of shedding hair or hair breakage etc. as its hair at the end of the day and they can only handle certain amount of chemicals and pressure.
Now, whether you are doing a Keratin smoothing or Brazilian treatment, such salon frizz-fighters work by breaking apart certain bonds in your hair, then bonding them back together in a sleek new configuration. Under a powerful magnified glass strands of hair will highlight amino acids positioning themselves in a ladder-like arrangement. These ladders can be straight or twisted ones if you have curly-wavy hair. The ladder steps of these amino acids are made from disulfide bonds which are sulfur atoms. People who don’t have naturally straight hair have more disulfide bonds.
Although, smoothing is said to be less harmful to hair than straightening as it doesn’t change the hair type but makes the hair more aligned, over doing it or lack of care can cause issues and some serious ones at that!
Here are some crucial pointers to make note of if we want to prevent such hair issues when going for smoothing:
1. The Word ‘Keratin’ – Is It Just A Marketing Gimmick?
We think that anything that has to do with keratin is a sure shot remedy to get frizz free hair. Wrong. Keratin is the protein that forms the main building block for hair and we tend to believe that all keratin treatments will simply restore keratin in our hair, thus, providing that lustrous shield coating the hair shaft.
However, Keratin on its own cannot smooth out the hair. So, don’t fall for products or treatments that go about screaming the ‘Keratin’ word in your face. Always check with your salon on what Keratin agent they are using. Keratins in bottles, tubes and salons are always mixed with other agents.
2. Look Out For Formaldehyde Gas Levels Used In Your Treatment
As mentioned earlier, external sources of Keratin on its own cannot smooth out or straighten hair. Along with other components and heat, it gives your hair that smooth sought-after effect. There are many such Keratin treatments that contain high quantities of formaldehyde gas which is a hazardous gas and extremely harmful to hair. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen meaning poisonous compound. This formaldehyde solution which is applied to hair is followed by ironing to lock in that straighter texture and gives it that smooth look until the next wash where your hair returns to its original, but smoother texture.
So ladies on one hand, Keratin smoothing helps in nourishing your hair and it repairs damage as well, but on the other hand, fumes from the formaldehyde content can not only damage your hair by causing it to break or shed, but damage your health too. On top of that, the heat used damages the cuticle. Salons mostly fuse the hydrolyzed Keratin mixed with chemicals with our natural hair keratin by sealing it in with heat.
So what to do now I hear you ask? Well do your homework on the exact treatment you’re going for and find out the formaldehyde content in the products they are using. If they tell you that it contains none, be wary as formaldehyde is the smoothing agent, so don’t be afraid to ask what will they use if not formaldehyde and they should have an answer or you’ll know they are bluffing.
Also, as formaldehyde is a gas, it may not be detected so easily and the salons may claim that their procedures are formaldehyde-free. In that case look out for formaldehyde-releasing components such as methylene glycol, formalin, methanal, and methanediol which are ingredients that release formaldehyde when heated or mixed with water. You don’t want to be exposed to formaldehyde fumes trust me!
3. Formaldehyde Alternatives
The good news is that we can save our hair from the harmful chemicals if we want to prevent hair fall outs and breaking due to weak cuticles. With a little research and understanding of what’s really good for our hair in the long run, we have found several new hair-smoothing treatments such as Goldwell Kerasilk, Trissola Solo, Supersilk Smoothing System, and Cezanne Perfect Finish. You may have to check with your local salons to see if they match up to any of these or use similar procedures and ingredients in their smoothing solutions. These treatments don’t use formaldehyde, but use glyoxylic acid instead or its derivatives to lock the hair into a smoother disposition. Believe it or not, these are actually one hundred percent formaldehyde-free.
However, as good as that sounds, the downside is that they are obviously not going to be as powerful as their harmful counterparts and the smoothness of hair may not last as long. That is the thing with life: all the most effective things seem to be the most harmful. But, we need to ask ourselves if we want fast effective solutions that cause harm in the long run or less effective, but healthier solutions that take care of our hair whilst making it look good.
4. Restrict Your Number Of Salon Treatments
At the end of the day it all boils down to moderation. If you have already undergone smoothing treatments, then restrict the number of times you head for a touch up. Target not more than 3 smoothing treatments a year to avoid damaged hair that tends to break and fall. Just as you are told to restrict using heat equipment on hair even if its keratin or ionic ones, similarly reduce the number of times you chemically treat your hair.
5. Post Treatment TLC: Deep Condition Your Hair In-Between Treatments
After each smoothing procedure, ensure you are thorough in your post hair-care follow up routine which means go out of your way to condition and hydrate your hair with nourishing ingredients. You don’t necessarily have to use an array of products sold at the salons because it’s their job to sell them and market them in a way that you will feel stupid for not buying them. That’s just wrong.
Ask and find out which products (chemical and natural) will help look after treated hair. Maintenance is key here to prevent hair damage. Use any shampoo that does not contain sulphate or sodium which dissolves keratin. Always wash hair with lukewarm water and never hot and end with a cold rinse.
You can also use leave-in conditioners or serums that contain keratin, collagen or polypeptides that help strengthen brittle hair which breaks. You can use humectants which enter the hair cortex and help retain moisture or you can use emollients such as silicones or oils which will lubricate the follicle thus helping in reducing damage and maintaining shine. Moroccan oil is formaldehyde –free and very good for hair strengthening. Do invest in such hair care products and also in home remedies involving coconut oils, olives, eggs, and so on.
6. Sleep On A Silk Pillow
The satiny silk fabric of your pillow will not cause friction like normal cotton ones do. Thus, this will prevent hair breakage and make your keratin treated hair last longer. You may not like silk pillow overs for display so just before going to bed change the cover of your pillow that you will sleep on to a silk or satin one and then, you can remove it the next morning.
7. Take Biotin Supplements
Along with your routine hair care, try to take some additional supplements along with your dietary intake such as Biotin capsules. Biotin is a B complex vitamin known to be really good for hair. However, do consult a doctor before buying any brand to ensure you’re taking the best.
So ladies please do look forward to your smoothing treatment if it’s on the cards or if you’re anxiously waiting for your next visit to the salon, but do bear in mind the above fatcs so that you can prevent your hair from breakage and fall outs. These treatments are affordable these days, but they aren’t dirt cheap either so spend that money wisely and enjoy your gorgeous and healthy hair!
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