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Hair Straightening Vs Hair Smoothing: Differences, Side Effects, and Maintenance Tips

September 2, 2022 by Edna K. Martin – Hairstylist, Certified Skin Care Coach

Many women love having straight and sleek mane for diverse reasons. It is easy to maintain and gives you a sophisticated look among others. This does not mean you cannot rock wavy and curly hair. They are lovely but they need extra attention to tame flyaways and frizz in your mane.

If you need to change the structure of your curly mane, hair straightening and smoothing treatment help with that. These two treatments help keep your tresses straightened and give them a polished look. Even though they serve the same purpose, they vary in how they work.

This article will discuss the differences, side effects, and maintenance tips for the two treatments. But before then, what is hair straightening and hair smoothing?

Hair Straightening

Hair straightening has been around for a while compared to hair smoothing. There are two types of hair straightening and they are temporary and permanent hair straightening. 

Hair Straightening

Temporary Hair Straightening

For this type of hair straightening, you straighten your mane using hot tools such as flat iron or styling comb. However, straight hair is temporary because it goes back to the original structure once you wash your lock. Besides, exposing your hair to heat can damage your mane. Thus, temporary hair straightening can cause hair damage.

Permanent Hair Straightening

This involves using chemicals such as relaxers to change the structure of your tresses. It can quickly change your wavy hair into polished straight and sleek hair in seconds. It is called permanent hair straightening because it lasts about 8 to 12 weeks. Even if you wash your hair, it remains intact until new hair grows out.

Hair straightening works on different types and structures of hair. However, the chemicals in the relaxer do not go well with bleached hair. Hence, you should avoid it if you have bleached your hair. How long hair straightening treatment lasts on you depends on the texture of your mane.

Side Effects Of Hair Straightening

As good as hair straightening is, it has some side effects. Thus, here are some side effects attached to hair straightening treatment.

  • Chemicals in the relaxer burn the skin, therefore it should not be applied directly to your skin. To ensure this, apply petroleum jelly or hair cream around your hairline.
  • Relaxers cause frizzy hair and even hair thinning and weakening.
  • It can also cause hair loss and dandruff.
  • The wrong application of relaxers can cause hair damage and breakage.

Hair Smoothing

Hair Smoothing

Many people consider hair smoothing as part of hair straightening treatment. Hair smoothing involves using a solution known as formaldehyde to moisten the hair. Then you use a flat iron to seal your mane in a straight position. It leaves your hair smooth, shiny, and frizz-free.

This technique is temporal but it lasts longer than temporary hair straightening. It can last up to 3 months. Hair smoothing is not effective for all hair textures, it works well on thin hair but not so well on thick curls. 

Side Effects Of Hair Smoothing

Even though it is less damaging than hair straightening treatment, it also has some side effects.

And here are some;

  • Formaldehyde solution burns the eyes and irritates the nose.
  • Another side effect is that it triggers nervous system problems. Thus, it can cause nausea, dizziness, and so on.
  • Besides, the heat from using flat iron during the process can cause hair brittleness, damage, or breakage.

Differences Between Hair Straightening And Hair Smoothing

The major thing both hair treatments do is to give you a sleek, straight, and polished lock. However, each has its strengths and weaknesses.

Here are some differences between hair straightening and hair smoothing;

  • Unlike permanent hair straightening, hair smoothing is temporal.
  • Even though both hair treatments use chemicals to change the structure of your mane. Formaldehyde solutions used in hair smoothing are less damaging to hair compared to chemicals in relaxers. The chemicals in relaxers used for hair straightening breaks down and rebuild hair bonds. Thus, there might be some damage during the process. But, you can repair it with a great hair care routine when the natural hair is growing back.
  • Hair straightening is effective on all types and textures of hair but hair smoothing is not effective on the thick mane. It can only deal with the frizz but not make it straight.
  • Besides, you can do hair smoothing on bleached or permanently dyed hair, however, you can do that with hair straightening.

Should You Go For Hair Straightening Or Hair Smoothing?

Many women are confused about which to go for to straighten their tresses. You should know that both procedures have their pros and cons. Thus, the answer to which to go depends on what you want.

The factors that determine the one you should go for are:

  • The outcome you want: do you want just to combat frizz or get straight hair? Do you want a permanent or temporary straight and sleek mane? Answer these questions and more will determine which of these procedures you should go for.
  • Your hair type/texture: as we said earlier, hair straightening works on all hair textures, while smoothing is only effective for thin locks. So the category your mane texture falls in will determine the procedure you will go for.

Maintenance Tips For Hair Straightening And Hair Smoothing

Using chemical treatment repeatedly on your mane can damage it. Thus you need some maintenance tips to take care of your tresses. Here are some tips for hair straightening and hair smoothing.

  • Your hair needs all the moisture it can get, so make sure you use a leave-in conditioner to hydrate your mane.
  • Protect your hair tresses from abrasive reactions by using silicon-based products for your hair care routine.
  • Use coconut oils to replenish protein in your lock.
  • Heat damages hair, so avoid using hot tools within the first few weeks of the procedure.

Bottom Line: Hair Straightening Vs Hair Smoothing

The bottom line is that both hair straightening and smoothing can give you a straightened and smooth strand. However, both procedures have their benefits and side effects. To know which you should go for, consider your hair texture and the result you want to get.

Resource:

  1. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/beauty/hair-smoothening-better-than-straightening/articleshow/14372724.cms
  2. https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/side-effects-of-hair-smoothing/
  3. https://fabbon.com/articles/hair/hair-smoothening
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