Natural Hair Straightening Products: How Do They Work?

Eunice Lucero | 31 May 2016

Let’s see if these D.I.Y. kitchen hacks really pass muster.

There is definitely a lot of hype surrounding natural hair straightening products, and whether or not there is a safe way to straighten hair at home. Natural hair is characteristically drier than other hair types, and relaxing it via chemical processes usually takes quite a toll on strands. This damage can usually manifest in dullness, roughness and even breakage mid-shaft, causing much distress.

At-Home Straightening: Natural Hair Straightening Products and Beyond

natural hair straightening products long brown waves
At-home straightening products, such as hair masks, may smoothen your hair, but not necessarily provide stick-straight results. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

If you’ve ever opened up Pinterest or scoured the web, you’ve probably chanced upon some popular home remedies that have been purported to have gentle relaxing benefits. Some swear by the efficacy of a coconut milk-lemon juice cocktail in smoothening out and relaxing natural curls; some use regular milk instead, and let it sit on strands before washing.

There are still others who swear by creating a mask out of mashing a banana and papaya together and drizzling it with honey (sounds delish!). Placed on strands and left to sit until hair is completely dry, then washed out and subsequently blowdried, the mixture is supposed to leave hair straighter and smoother than before.

Most of these D.I.Y./kitchen-counter hair hacks have yet to be proven, and even so, probably yields highly subjective—and inconsistent—results. None of these ingredients can promise to straighten hair consistently from root to tip. The most they can do is perhaps provide a heavier-than-usual conditioning film to the hair that flattens out curls in the moment, with the help of some heat styling.

Keratin Treatments and Keratin-Infused Products

Keratin, a naturally occurring protein in hair, is a beauty buzzword that’s been having quite the moment in recent years. As a chemical process, a keratin straightening treatment is said to “spackle” lost proteins in the hair shaft, with the keratin effectively bonding onto gaps in the strand with the help of heat (via a styling tool). This helps straighten out the hair, with effects lasting for up to three months. There has been some controversy regarding these processes due to the addition of the straightening chemical formaldehyde into the treatments, and the jury’s still out on whether it definitively has harmful effects.

Keratin-infused products, on the other hand, usually have smoothening and frizz control as their main benefits. TRESemmé 7Day Keratin Smooth Shampoo, Conditioner and Heat Activated Treatment help coat hair with keratin—and in the case of shampoos and conditioners, sometimes even a lower level of sulfates—to result in shinier, sleeker strands that are more frizz-resistant than most, but for a shorter amount of time (commitment-phobes, rejoice!). Other keratin-infused reinforcements, such as shine sprays and heat protectants, can further extend these benefits by offering more long-lasting shine and hold.

Will you get permanent results?

Unless you resort to a complete rebonding of hair via a Japanese straightening treatment, these at-home natural hair straightening products and keratin treatments, though gentler, can only provide a temporary fix. Our natural hair structure can only be altered permanently through chemical means, processes that can make our strands more vulnerable to irreversible damage down the line.

Have you ever tried natural hair straightening products? Did they work for you?