Breaking Down Hair Straightening Techniques

First up, Keratin Treatments. According to Garance: “Pretty much it covers up the hair with keratin (the protein hair is made of) and then they straighten it with a flat iron that penetrates through the keratin and then you wait for it to harden… Hence three days without washing. And that’s what straightens it. And then it lasts 6 months. No need to brush and blowdry, no need to do anything.” Check out the photo of Garance with her new straight hair.

Brazilian Blowout. It’s less about pin-straight hair and more about getting rid of frizz. Nicole Ritchie, as a hair example, loves Brazilian Blowouts. The Brazilian just softens whatever curl or wave you have. If the hair is air dried without a blow dryer, it will still have wave or curl but no frizz. On the flip side, if you want to blow dry your hair straight, you can do that, without a brush, in a fraction of the amount of time it would have taken without the Brazilian. It washes away with time and is diffused, so there is no noticeable difference between new hair and treated hair.

And the most permanent of the straightening techniques, Japanese Straightening. (and I mean straight, you get stick straight hair!) It’s mainly for “virgin” hair, i.e. hair that hasn’t been highlighted or colored or permed, etc. The procedure—sometimes called thermal reconditioning or ionic retexturing—weakens the hair, breaking down each follicle’s cystine bond (the molecular arrangement that gives hair its shape) so that it’s vulnerable to restructuring; the hair is then flattened with a special ceramic iron, after which a neutralizing serum is added to keep it straight. It’s a precise and difficult process, and if a stylist is inexperienced or a less gentle metal iron is used, the effect is dried-out and damaged-looking. And note: Upkeep is something to think about—there will be a line of demarcation, meaning that when new hair grows in, it is curly/ wavy while the rest of the hair is straight.

[Garance Dore]