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Thermal Reconditioning - an Overview
Curly Hair Vs Straight Hair
The beauty of our hair has a direct influence on our image. Of course, beauty is relative and preferences are different. Some people think that curly hair is extremely charming and feminine, while others consider that a straight sleek look is much more attractive.
However, nobody likes a dull, frizzy hair, with a coarse, unmanageable structure. Unfortunately, that’s how curly hair looks if it’s not carefully styled. Even when you spend lots of time conditioning and arranging your locks, the entire effect can be lost because of the increased humidity in the air. Coping with curly hair is one of the most frustrating experiences ever - I can tell you this from my own experience!
Coping With Your Curls - The Main Options
If you have curly, wavy or simply frizzy hair and you dream about having a healthy-looking, shining hair, you have 3 main options:
1. Maintaining and styling the natural structure of your hair. For this, you will need lots of patience and special hair care products for curly hair with a de-frizzing effect. This option is advisable in case the shape of your face looks better when your hair has more body.
2. Temporary hair straightening. You can straighten your hair temporarily by using smoothing hair care products (natural or available on the market), by blow drying (in case of wavy hair) or hot ironing it (in case of rebel tight curls). Temporary straightening techniques are appropriate for those women who wish to wear their hair straight only occasionally. If you use the hot iron on a regular basis, it will seriously damage your hair, making it lose its natural shine and elasticity. A burned hair will be dry, brittle and prone to breakage, so hot ironing is not an option for those ladies who want to get rid of their curls for good.
3. Permanent hair straightening. If temporary methods had at least some natural aspects (for example, using natural straightening masks), permanent straightening is impossible without the use of hair restructuring chemicals. If you decide to undergo a chemical hair straightening, you’ll need re-touches at least twice a year. Of course, risk is present whenever chemicals are involved, but it is still safer to have a permanent straightening every 6 months than to use the hot iron every day.
Among all permanent straightening procedures, thermal reconditioning or Japanese hair straightening is probably the best one. This revolutionary hair treatment was invented in Japan in the late 1990s. There are several Japanese hair straightening systems. The most popular ones are Yuko, Liscio and Bio Ionic (and its European equivalent - IHR hair straightening). Each of these systems has a patented formula that is used not only for the hair restructuring substance, but also for an entire line of hair care products (designed for chemically straightened hair and not only).
Thermal reconditioning is a complicated process that consists of several steps, each of them being important for the permanent restructuring (or rebonding) of your hair. The main chemical solutions that will be applied are the retexturizer (or the hair relaxing solution) and the neutralizer. The first formula is based on ammonium thioglycolate, an alkaline substance that will permanently dissolve the protein bonds in the hair shaft. It is important to estimate correctly the processing time of this solution - if left for too long on your hair, it may cause irreversible damage. An experienced stylist will assess your hair type and porosity and will do a strand test before applying the substance on the entire hair. The neutralizer will counteract the alkaline effects of the first solution, ‘memorizing’ the new shape of the hair.
Now let’s see take a closer look at the main steps of thermal reconditioning:
In the beginning, your hair will be shampooed and conditioned with products from the same line - for example Yuko or Liscio. On the wet hair, a protective cream will be applied, followed by the relaxing substance. It will be allowed to change the structure of your hair for about 10-25 minutes (the exact processing time depends on your hair type). The stylist will check from time to time the condition of your hair. When he or she will decide that the processing is done, the substance will be rinsed, your hair toweled and then blow dried until it is half dry.
The stylist will then straighten your hair strand by strand, by using a hot iron kept at the same temperature. This is the most time-consuming step of Japanese hair straightening. If performed correctly, the ironing will also seal the hair cuticle, making it shinier and stronger. When your hair is perfectly straight, the technician will apply the neutralizing substance. After rinsing and drying your hair, you’re free to go!
After the procedure, you’ll be instructed not to wash your hair for 48-72 hours and generally to avoid contact with liquids (including your own sweat). You’ll also have to wear your hair straight for the first week, not using hair clips and not pulling the hair behind the ears. Specialists say that the neutralizing process does not end when you leave the salon - it continues for approximately 3-5 days after the treatment. If you bend your hair during this time, the line will be permanent. The stylist will also instruct you how to take care of your chemically straightened hair. You’ll probably have to buy a set of professional hair care products - a shampoo, a conditioner and a weekly repairing treatment.
Thermal reconditioning is permanent. Unlike other chemical hair straightening procedures (like cold smoothing or Brazilian keratin straightening), it will not allow your hair to return gradually to its initial condition. It will always be pin straight, and you’ll only need retouches on the new hair growth.
Of course, thermal reconditioning is not the only permanent hair straightening method. Besides the above mentioned cold smoothing and Brazilian keratin treatment, there are also the classical hair relaxers - hydroxide based substances that change the structure of the hair as well, but without the ‘sealing’ effect of the hot iron. Hair relaxers are more dangerous for your hair than thermal reconditioning, but if they are used by an experienced stylist, the effects can be impressive.
Remember that we’re all different, and so is our hair. For some, thermal reconditioning is the best option, while for others hair relaxers will have better results. Semi-permanent options like cold smoothing will make your hair softer and straighter without affecting its natural volume. The wide variety of straightening procedures is definitely a good thing, allowing each of us to choose the most appropriate treatment.