Straightening hair: myths and facts.

Hi hair lovers!

I recently met yet another woman who had her hair straightened with a keratin treatment at her hairdressers. She was very happy with the results, and I have to admit her hair looked beautiful… BUT as this was only the first treatment she had, I couldn’t help myself and I had to warn her for the long term effects on her hair and health of having such treatments. I told her that eventually these treatments can really ruin your hair and that they are not without health risk. In this blog I would like to go into the subject to inform you all of the real story behind these treatments and I uncover 3 myths.

Myth 1: straightening is a natural treatment.

The woman I recently spoke to told me that her hairdresser told her that relaxing your hair with a keratin treatment was the best thing to do to get healthy and strong hair and that it was 100% natural… My head explodes when I hear such statements. OK, she is right about the keratin which also occurs naturally in your hair, but the way the keratin is being transported inside the hairshaft is not at all a natural process. To lock in the keratin products almost always need formaldehydes and/or mehthylene glycol.

In traditional methods used to permanently straighten a hair strand you need to first swell the hair cuticle using a chemical containing ammoniac to then use another chemical to break down the internal structure that is the foundation of your curls. After breaking down the natural structure you need heat to get it straigth and another chemical (hydrogen peroxide) to fix this new structure for a period of time. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this treatment is a real health hazard and they warn both the client getting the treatment as the one treating you, your hairdresser. Both substances are known carcinogens! Isn’t it strange that over the past years most nailpolish brands removed formaldehydes from their formulas when on the contrary hair products add them again getting your scalp, a significant part of your skin in contact with these dangerous goods?

What struck me the most was that the FDA even says that the so called natural straightening treatments are on their radar as well. I also talk about so called natural hair colouring products in my book “The complete guide to healthy hair.”, other product same commercial story…

Myth 2: a keratin treatment will give you healthier, stronger hair.

Remember Jennifer Anniston who had to cut her hair to chin-lenghts after the horrible damage from a keratin straightening treatment? I have seen the same stories happening in real life here in Belgium when I was running some test teams for my product line Delphin & Emerence: I encountered women with hair I could just pulvarize between my fingers because of the treatments they were told to be so good for them, not to mention the condition of their scalps which were dry, flaky and had small leisures.

Myth 3: it’s a gentle treatment, no harm is done…

In order to make the keratin “stick” to the hair you need heat. Usually your hairdresser will use a 450 degree (200°) flat iron to do that. If you have super fine, blond hair like mine or delicate curls this can do more harm then good. Think about how your hair looks after 2 weeks at the beach when you wouldn’t protect it!

Especially using heat in combination with the Japanese straightening method can totally ruin your hair leaving you with only one option: to cut your hair short to fix the damage. Some say there is a limited selection of top hairdressers who use a keratin straightening technique that is way better and makes your hair look wonderful, but then you’ll have to pay a lot of money to have it done… I have yet to see the longterm results of these treatments…

My Final Advice?

My advice for healthy hair and especially a healthy life would be to stick with your natural hair. If you treasure your body and hair and already follow the 3-step plan in my book then you eat well, take the right vitamins and herbs and get the right treatments to make your natural style shine. Don’t be tempted to have this all go down the drain with unnecessary chemicals to look like somebody you are not…