Written by April Reinhardt (last updated March 2, 2020)
My hair won't hold a curl with a curling iron because not only is it straight, it's thick and long. Just after high school graduation, I decided to get a perm. "Just a little body," I told the stylist. Two hours and a lot of money later, I looked like Shirley Temple with long hair. "It will relax a little in a few days," encouraged my stylist.
Well, I wasn't about to wait a few days. I sprinted from the salon, stopped at the local drugstore, bought two home perm kits, sped home, locked myself in the bathroom and, hanging my head over the tub, doused my length of curls with the perm solution and combed it straight for over an hour.
Such is not the proper way to straighten your hair. While it did remove the curl, the abundance of chemicals in a few hours' time damaged my hair. But at least my hair was straight again.
There are several appropriate methods for straightening your hair. Permanent methods incorporate using relaxer chemicals, while temporary options use heated appliances and specialized styling products. Chemical relaxers should ideally be applied by a trained professional in a salon setting:
You can also straighten your hair using heat or styling products:
If you choose to chemically straighten your hair, you will need to condition it at least twice a week since the chemicals remove moisture from the hair shaft. Daily blow drying can also damage hair, so you will need to invest in a quality hair conditioner.
While straightening your hair provides you a new look, proper maintenance with products recommended for chemically-treated hair will help repair any damage incurred by harsh chemicals.
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