There is good and bad. There is 'what do you need', which may or may not be 'what do you want'. The dilemma of hair smoothening versus hair straightening also has these aspects, wherein, one is touted to be better than the other. However, the outcome that you want may only be obtained by that which is not good for you.Hair smoothening and hair straightening (permanent hair straightening) both are chemical processes, therefore, both have side effects. Yes, you read it right and this brings us to the question, which one is better? Chemically, smoothening is a better option than straightening. To know why, you must understand the processes:
What is Hair Smoothening?
Hair smoothening is a chemical process that involves saturating the hair with a formaldehyde solution, which is then dried out and locked in a straight position using a flat iron.
Formaldehyde is a toxic chemical and it needs expert supervision. The short-term side effects could include irritation of eyes, skin and upper respiratory track. In long-term various agencies have classified it as a suspected human carcinogen (substance capable of causing cancer)as it has been linked to nasal cancer and leukaemia.
However, proper execution of the process reduces these risks to an extremely safe extent. Ensure that the salon that you choose has well ventilated area and requisite amenities.
Brazilian Blowout and Keratin treatment:
Hair Smoothening is usually subdivided into two popular treatments: Brazilian Blowout and Keratin Treatment. Both treatments bond protein to the external stratum of the hair. In Brazilian Blowout, the solution is rinsed out while in Keratin Treatment solution it is left in the hair.
Hair smoothening is a comparatively short term solution than hair straightening.
What is Hair Straightening?
Hair straightening involves restructuring of the hair. The chemicals permanently break the bonds of the hair shaft and then they are restructured with application of heat. Finally, the newly formed bonds are sealed with more chemicals. Permanent hair straightening is also called as Japanese Hair Straightening (also Thermal Reconditioning).
There are no standard straighteners that fit all. All the straighteners are not equal; they have different compositions. There is no one size that fits all. You should have in-depth consultation to understand your hair's curl pattern, elasticity, permeability, texture, thickness throughout the length and general health before deciding which straightener is ideal.
As it is clear from the processes, stronger chemicals are used in hair straightening than hair smoothening, hence the latter is better considering the side effects.
How to Go About?
An experienced and qualified hair expert is the best person to test your hair and analyse what they need. However, as I said in the beginning, 'what you need' may not be 'what you want'. After the hair examination, once your expert tells you 'what you need', discuss with him, 'what you want'. A good expert should be able to do the cost to benefit analysis based on your discussion and you can go ahead with the recommendation.
The logical progression that you could follow:
1. Research about the salon: Choose a renowned and well equipped salon with experienced stylists. It's important to warrant that right mixture of chemicals is used.
2. Know your hair type: Your stylist can help in this. There are different sets of treatment for different kinds of hair. You should be sure before you embark the journey.
3. Be careful of low cost deals: These processes involve chemical products and if quality is maintained, they can't be offered below a certain cost. If you get an offer that is far below the normal rate, probably the chemical used are of low grade.
4. Know the products: Ask your stylist about the brands that are being used for the treatment. High quality brands are exclusively available with trusted and certified salons. You can evaluate standard of the salon based on the brands that they use.
5. Timeline: Hair Smoothening is short-term and hair straightening is a long-term solution. You can choose the treatment based on the timeline of revisits that you want.
6. Conflicts: Discussing your hair history with the stylist is vital. If your hair has already undergone some treatment in the past, consult your stylist of probable conflicts that could occur in getting the new treatment.
7. Post treatment care: It's extremely important to take special care of your hair post hair smoothening or hair straightening. Depending on the treatment, a qualified hair expert will give you the list of dos and don'ts. For best results always follow the advice.
Conclusion: It all depends on the results that you want and to accomplish those results your hair expert will suggest you the right process. Do ask your expert the pros and cons based on your hair type. Finally, ensure three 'R's': Right Expert, Right Product and Right Process.