Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
I have very curly hair and want to straighten it. Would it be better to go to a hair salon or try to straighten it myself with a flat iron? If I do this myself, what type of flat iron should I get?
Set me straight
Dear Set me straight,
There are several ways to straighten curly hair depending on how long you want your straight hair to last, the amount of money you wish to spend, and whether you want to avoid chemicals.
For straight hair that lasts only until the next wash, you can use a blow dryer and flat iron. Flat irons range in price from about $30 to $200. In addition, always use a heat protective spray which smoothes, softens, and protects your hair from thermal damage when using a flat iron.
Straight hair that can last months to a year use chemical hair straighteners and should be done by a hair salon. However, the hair salon cost ranges from $150 to $600.
Below is a list of popular methods that can be used to straighten hair from blow drying to chemical hair straightening systems. There may be other techniques developed, so consult with a hair salon for up to date information.
HAIR STRAIGHTENING METHODS
1. Blow Drying Hair Straight: wash and rinse hair, then use a heat protective spray while blow drying. Blow dry your wet hair in sections. The sections should be thin enough in order to be held by your brush and dry easily. Results last until hair is washed.
2. Flat Iron Straighteners: wash and rinse hair, use a heat protective spray and blow dry as you normally would. When hair is dry, straighten hair in sections using a flat iron. Flat irons can be bought at your local store or online. For long hair or thick hair, purchase a flat iron with a wider 2 inch plate. Drugstore.com positive consumer ratings were given to Remington Wet 2 Straight ($28), Conair Instant Heat, Ultra Hot Ceramic Straightener ($28), CHI Ceramic Hairstyling Iron ($190, but $90 at drugstore.com), Sedu Ionic Ceramic Tourmaline Flat Iron ($209). Results last until hair is washed.
3. IHR (Ionic Hair Retexturing) or The Japanese Straightening System: hair salon treatment where hair is straightened by removing or relaxing curls from hair. A special chemical is applied to the hair, then a flat iron and neutralizing solution is used to straighten hair. Straight hair is supposed to look healthy, shiny, and silky after treatment. The salon session can take 4 hours. The Jon'Ric Salon (www.jrorlando.com) gives the cost from $349 to $900 with results lasting 6 to 9 months.
4. Brazilian Keratin Treatment - hair salon method where a special formaldehyde solution is applied to the hair, and then a flat iron is used to straighten hair. Straight hair is supposed to look healthy and shiny. The salon session takes 2-4 hours. The Jon'Ric Salon (www.jrorlando.com) gives the cost from $249 to $600 with results lasting 3 to 4 months.
Please note that formaldehyde is a known carcinogen (can cause cancer), which can also irritate the eyes and lungs if fumes are inhaled. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not restrict the use of formaldehyde in cosmetics.
In addition, according to the FDA Office of Cosmetics & Colors, chemically induced hair straighteners and relaxers have had consumer complaints of hair breakage, hair damage, or scalp burns.
For more information, on FDA warning about hair relaxers, see:
To read the flat iron reviews, see www.drugstore.com