At some point, many of us dreamt of having straight hair for a longer period of time. Thank heavens for Brazilian blowouts, keratin treatments and relaxers! Although these treatments leave hair looking sleek and straight, the aftercare comes with a price. No matter how you chemically straighten hair, you should always remember the health of your strands comes first, especially when dealing with chemicals that can cause damage in the long run.
To help you out, we are sharing some insider hair tips on how to chemically straighten hair with at-home kits, plus how to take care of your hair afterwards. This includes how to keep your hair in check, and what you should avoid. From knowing when you can color your hair, to altering your hair care regimen, read on to discover some of the most frequently asked questions to help you to better care for your hair after a chemical hair straightener.
Chemically Straighten Hair: Tips You Need to Know
Never chemically straightened your hair at home before? Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Always Set a Timer
Before deciding to chemically straighten hair at home, make sure you read all necessary precautions provided by the kit you have purchased. Keep in mind that with chemical treatments (relaxers especially), the process is time-sensitive. Set a timer or an alarm. Make sure you’re doing this process in a ventilated room to get rid of fumes; get your windows open or do it outside if possible.
2. Don’t Overdo It
On relaxed hair, make sure you’re really in need of a touch-up—if not, you can potentially over-process your hair. If it’s been about six to eight weeks after your last treatment, or you have at least 1/4 inches of new growth, you’re in the clear. However, if you just removed braids or recently colored your hair, it’s good to hold off from relaxing for about another week to prevent any irreversible damage.
Chemically Straighten Hair Pros and Cons
If you’re on the fence about chemically straightening your hair, there are many pros and cons you’ll want to keep in mind when making the final decision to do a treatment.
Chemically Straighten Hair Pros
The pros of chemically straightened hair is what makes this treatment an absolute must for so many people. The treatment tames frizzy hair, giving you sleek and smooth strands. Chemically straightened hair can last up to 6 months, which is perfect for people who always want the sleek look. Plus, if you do this treatment yourself, at-home kits are very affordable and fairly simple to do.
Chemically Straighten Hair Cons
It’s probably no surprise that any permanent type of treatment will cause some damage to your strands. When the hair is being chemically straightened, the bonds are breaking, which is what allows your hair to be straight and smooth. This causes breakage and damage to your hair, which is why the after hair care is so important.
It’s also good to know that you may not get your original texture back. Once the treatment wears off, you may be left with frizz-prone, multi-textured hair. If you’re ok with this, then there’s no need to worry. However, you may find yourself doing upkeep quite a bit if you aren’t a fan of your hair texture after the treatment has worn off.
Your scalp and hair can have reactions to the chemicals used in these treatments, so it’s best to always do a test strand first before going all in.
At-Home Keratin Treatment Tutorial
Step 1. Section hair.
After washing and conditioning your hair, use a rat-tail comb to part hair into four workable sections by parting hair down the center of your head, front to back and from ear to ear. Using gloves, apply the keratin treatment into your hair by sections, from root to tip using an applicator brush.
Step 2. Comb treatment through hair.
For even distribution, comb the treatment through your hair with a wide-toothed comb. This will also help to remove any excess product. All of your strands should be coated.
Step 3. Blow dry.
Blow-dry each section of your hair using warm or medium heat, holding the concentration nozzle down the hair shaft which helps seal the hair cuticles down flat.
Step 4. Flat iron.
Part the hair the way you want it to be worn, to avoid styling your hair after the flat ironing process which can result in dents or marks along the surface of the hair. In one or two-inch sections begin to flat iron your hair at 450 degrees. If you set at a lower temperature, the flat iron won’t be able to seal in the treatment.
Step 5. Wait 72 hours.
Leave your hair as is for the next 72 hours. Sleep on a satin or silk pillowcase to protect your strands. Cotton creates friction and can damage your freshly treated hair. After, you can carry out your normal styling or wash and care routines.
Simple At-Home Relaxer Tutorial
Looking to try a relaxer at home? Scroll down to learn how.
Step 1. Mix relaxer and activator.
Mix the relaxer and activator until it is free of clumps and fully combined.
Step 2. Part hair into four sections.
Use a rat-tail comb to part hair into four workable sections by parting hair down the center of your head, front to back and from ear to ear.
Step 3. Prep hair.
Prep your hairline and entire scalp with petroleum jelly or a base oil to prevent irritation.
Step 4. Apply relaxer.
Using gloves, begin applying relaxer to your new growth. Start with the back area of your hair one section at a time, parting the hair horizontally within each section. In other words: Part hair, apply relaxer and repeat these steps to the following sections of hair. Only use the smoothing technique during the application by using the back surface of a comb’s bristles.
Continue this process for all four sections of hair, leaving your front and back hairline until the end. Don’t spend too much time on one area, as this can lead to overprocessing. Each section will take you around five to eight minutes.
Step 5. Time to wash.
After you’ve completed your last section, it’s now time to wash. Wash hair with neutralizing shampoo to deactivate the chemicals using the smoothing technique with your hands until the relaxer is completely removed from the hair and water runs clear. If you scrub or massage your scalp, it will burn and cause irritation.
How to Protect Your Strands When You Chemically Straighten Hair
A blowout is a chemical-free way to straighten your hair.
Can I still heat-style after a chemical straightening process?
You’ve got your hair freshly done, but you just can’t wait to add a few bouncy curls to your hair. You may want to hold your horses depending on the treatment you received. If your hair has been freshly treated with a Brazilian or keratin treatment, follow the instructions from your kit before using any heat styling tools on your hair. Using it any time prior can leave marks and dents on the surface of your hair. If you had a relaxer, you may heat style once your hair is dry. Be sure to prevent any damage or breakage by using a heat protectant like TRESemmé Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray.
I got burns from my chemical straighter. What should I do?
Oftentimes, during chemical treatments, women get burns due to an irritated scalp prior to application. If this has occurred, don’t pick the scabs. You can apply aloe vera gel onto the scalp to help soothe the burn. The next time you go for a chemical treatment, be sure your scalp isn’t irritated, and if you’re carrying out the process yourself with an at-home kit, try not to go over the suggested time limits. Follow the instructions provided by the kit, use petrolatum to prevent burns, and don’t apply the chemicals close to your root.
Should I change my wash-and-care system?
Chemical treatments can cause breakage if you don’t take proper care of your hair. If your current wash and care system doesn’t tout anti-breakage, then yes. When you chemically straighten hair, it can be damaging to your hair. Over time, the hair can become weak, brittle, and dry. Employ a line like the TRESemmé Pro Pure Damage Collection, which helps to leave hair strong, healthy and manageable. TRESemmé Pro Pure Damage Shampoo cleanses your hair and helps protect it from breakage, and TRESemmé Pro Pure Damage Conditioner helps to restore moisture. In addition, don’t skimp on leave-in conditioners and hair masks which both help restore your hair.
When can I color my hair after chemically straightening it?
We recommend following the instructions from the manufacturers of the chemical treatments before adding color to your hair.