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Hair straightening is a hair styling technique which involves flattening and straightening of hair in order to give it a smooth and sleek appearance. It may be accomplished by using flat irons and hot combs, chemical relaxers, Japanese hair straightening, or Brazilian hair straightening. In addition flat irons and hair gels can help to make hair temporarily straight.

Flat irons and hot combs can only temporarily modify hair texture, whereas relaxers and the other methods permanently alter the structure, although new hair growth is not affected.

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Japanese straightening, also known as thermal reconditioning or yuko straightening is a method for permanent straightening. Whereas other straightening procedures involve applying relaxers to smooth out the hair, in Japanese straightening the hair is treated with chemicals, then separated into sections. Each section is ironed, rinsed, and blow dried. The procedure takes from one to eight hours depending on the length, thickness and condition of the hair. The effect is permanent, though new growth is unaffected.

Brazilian straightening also called escova progressiva or Brazilian blowout is a method of temporarily straightening hair by sealing it with keratin with a flat iron.

Chemical straightening
Chemical hair straightening also known as relaxing is a procedure where the basic structure of curly hair is changed to straight form. This process utilizes strong chemicals that are applied directly to the shaft. It is best to have the relaxing process performed by a professional. After the treatment you must use the recommended protein rich shampoo and conditioner to wash. If the hair is not maintained properly then it may result in breakage and also loss.

Brazilian hair straightening
In Brazilian straightening or non-chemical treatment, a solution made with Keratin is applied to the hair and then sealed using a 450 degree flat iron. This product traps in moisture and hydrates the hair leaving it lustrous and smooth looking. This keratin treatment is found to have no side effects and makes the hair strong and healthy. This is a temporary straightening technique and lasts for 2 to 4 months. You have to use only sodium chloride free or sulfate free shampoos and conditioners to wash the hair after the treatment to avoid the salt content from stripping the keratin.

Brazilian straightening works best on chemically treated hair because the cuticles are open as all chemicals will raise the PH levels in the hair and that is what opens the cuticles and this enables the keratin to penetrate into the hair shaft.

There is lot of talk about the formaldehyde content in keratin treatment and many hesitate to take this treatment due to this reason. Formaldehyde is a colorless and pungent gas which can irritate the eyes and lungs if the fumes are inhaled. But off late many reputed brands have come out with formaldehyde free hair treatments which are absolutely safe to use.

Global Keratin is a brand specializing in Keratin Hair Treatment for Brazilian Hair Straightening. Their Keratin Hair Treatment comes in 4 amazing fragrances and 3 compositions suiting all types of hair. They even a impressive line of keratin based shampoos and conditioners

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Professional Flat Irons Hair is a filamentous biomaterial (made of long chains of proteins, interacts with biological systems), that grows from follicles found in the dermis (middle layer) of the skin. It is composed mostly of keratin, which is a fibrous structural protein. The entire human body except the palms of hands and soles of feet are covered in follicles that produce hair. Each strand of hair is composed of three layers: The cuticle, medulla and cortex. The cuticle is the outermost layer. It is composed of hard shingle-like cells that overlap each other. It is formed from dead cells that have turned into scales. It's purpose is to protect the inner layers and give the hair strength. The shape the cuticle is in, determines how healthy your hair is. Healthy, shiny hair has a cuticle that is smoothed down. In damaged hair, the scales are raised up. You can smooth the cuticle down by using mild heat (like a towel wrapped around your head after you get out of the shower) or acidic based hair products (which is why a lot of hair products contain citric acid, etc.) Products high in alkaline do completely the opposite, and they raise the cuticle. The next layer, in the middle, is the cortex, which makes up most of the hair. Melanin, which are color pigments, are located here in the cortex. They determine the color of the fiber of the hair, based on how many there are and what types they are. The shape of the hair follicle determines the shape of the cortex, which therefore determines if hair is straight, wavy, or curly. The cortex also holds water, and is packed with keratin protein. The process of coloring, perm/straighteners, or other styling all takes place in the cortex. The innermost layer is called the medulla, although some people (with fine hair) don't have a medulla. It's purpose is still unknown. Hair color is generally classified by numbers 1-10. Level 1 is generally black, while level 10 is generally blonde. All natural occurring hair colors are combined of percentages of the three primary colors: Red, Yellow and Blue. The two main chemicals found in permanent hair color are hydrogen peroxide, and ammonia (this is why color is damaging to your hair). Ammonia works by separating the cuticle scales. Peroxide helps oxidize pigments. When the hair color is penetrating into the cortex, it creates new pigment molecules, which are too big to come out of the cortex. This is why it is hard to take color out, once you put it in. Bleaching your hair is a similar process. The peroxide softens and lifts the cuticle and then the bleach (lightener) disperses the color molecules that are in the cortex. There are different level of peroxide. 5V and 10V (V=volume) are deposit only. You would use them to deposit a darker color (like black) and they work by only lifting the cuticle a tiny bit. 20V lifts up to 2 levels and deposits color. This is the most common peroxide used. 30V lifts up to 3 levels and 40V lifts up to 4 levels. You won't see 40V being used often. It is usually only used with high-lift blondes and bleach, but it is very damaging on your hair and can burn the scalp, if used incorrectly. Now, back to primary colors... The three primary colors, like I said before, are red, blue and yellow. The three secondary colors are orange (red+yellow), green (blue+yellow) and violet (blue+red). Look at the way the color wheel is set up, for it is done this way on purpose. The color directly across from a color, is its complimentary color. Complimentary colors can either intensify or neutralize each other. For instance, when you bleach your hair, it usually ends up a pale yellow tone. To take away the yellow, you tone your hair with a violet based toner to turn it platinum-blonde. This is why a lot of "blonde" shampoos are purple. If your hair is orange, you should tone it with a blue based (ash) toner. Toners are basically pigment to tone your hair after bleaching it. I highly recommend toning hair after bleaching it, because it looks more finished. There are so many different varieties of toners. You can tone hair ash blonde, platinum blonde, neutral, strawberry blonde, etc. Let's say your hair is bleached but you decide you want to color it back to brown. You have to re-pigment hair first. If you don't, the color will turn out really ashy/greyish and faded looking. To re-pigment (fill) the hair, you want to use reddish/goldish colors that are one level lighter than the desired color. I used Paul Mitchell color and there are different formulas you can use depending on your target level. For PM, you would mix equal parts of the formula with 10V developer, and apply to damp hair. You process for 10 minutes and then apply the target color over the re-pigmentation formula (unless the target formula is cool/neutral, you would wipe off the re-pigmentation formula). Process the whole thing for 35 additional minutes. Next, I will get into the different types of colors: Permanent colors can lift you hair up to 3 levels, generally and should last quite a while. High-lifts will lift the hair about 4 levels. Demi-permanent colors last about 4-6 weeks and will wash out eventually, leaving no roots. Temporary colors generally coat the hair shaft, without penetrating into the cortex, therefore not needing developer. If done right, these should even last a few weeks. The little old ladies use a color rinse a lot, which is a temporary color that will just wash out next time they wash their hair. A very important thing to know about color, that most people don't know, is that COLOR WILL NEVER LIFT COLOR This basically means that if your hair is dark brown, and you want to lift it to a light brown, you have to bleach your hair before it will take the color you want. I hear customers talk about this at work ALL THE TIME. They are confused because they tried to color their own hair lighter and but it just turned darker. Now consider everything I have taught you so far. If your hair already has dark color molecules in the cortex, and you put another color on top of it, all you are doing is depositing more color molecules into your cortex, hence the reason it is darker. Color will lift virgin hair, but not hair that is already colored. Now I will tell you how perms and straighteners work. You always clarify before doing a perm, since that will help get build-up and medication out of the hair. While the hair is wet, you roll it into rollers (same width as the result curl will be). You then apply perm solution to each perm-rod and let it process. Perm solution is generally made of ammonium thioglycolate. The solution breaks down the disulfide bonds in your hair (which are the proteins that give your hair shape.) After you have processed, you rinse the perm solution out and then apply neutralizer. Neutralizer rebuilds the disulfide bonds in the new shape of the perm rod. Voila! Now you have curly hair! Straighteners typically do the same thing, except they make your hair straight instead of curly.

Improper Cleaning Can Permanently Damage Your Hair Straightener

Spinning Hair Curler Okay, let's talk straight. For decades, women of African descent the world over have relied on various tried-and-tested methods to "relax" their hair. Then, about a decade ago, the Yuko system made a big stink among people of all colors when it came over from Japan, followed by Opti-Smooth. Now a third contender is fighting to become top dog in the hair straightening stakes: the Brazilian. Not what the name may imply, the Brazilian is a relatively new hair straightening system that has nothing to do with waxing away pubic hair. It is a semi-permanent way to straighten the hair on your head, which uses keratin - and sometimes formaldehyde - to tame even the curliest locks. But while it may be taking the world of hair by storm, even it has its drawbacks... If you are considering straightening your hair for more than just an occasional night out, you may be thinking of a permanent hair straightening system. Here is the best - and the worst - of the most popular systems currently on offer. Remember, success will depend not only on your type of hair and how rigorously you adhere to its upkeep, but also on the skill of your stylist - as well as the products he or she chooses to use. Brazilian Hair Straightening (aka Brazilian Blow-Out or Brazilian Keratin Treatment). The stylist applies active keratin, a protein found in the top layer of our skin which makes it both waterproof and tough, although sometimes this is used in conjunction with formaldehyde, which can be dangerous (see below). The formula is then sealed into the hair using a hot iron, taking away frizz, curls and unruly waves. Takes about two hours, more for longer or more unruly hair. PROS: Will fade away gradually, meaning that it will eventually grow out and leave you with natural waves once more. Takes less salon time and generally costs less than the Yuko or Opti-Smooth system. Leaves the hair with more body than the Yuko System and can be used on dyed hair as well as virgin hair. CONS: The effect doesn't last as long as Yuko or Opti-Smooth - about three to four months. And if the product contains actual formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, - you will need to check with the salon first - this could reportedly be a health hazard, for both you and your stylist as well. Note that the FDA does not regulate the use of formaldehyde in cosmetics. The Yuko System. Created in the 1990s, this can make any type of curly hair straight in about five hours - for about six months or so, depending on hair. After a consultation with your stylist, your hair will be washed and divided into segments, then the application will be put on for roughly 20 minutes, depending on hair length etc. It will then be flat-ironed and a neutralizer will be put on to reset the bonds of the hair. It will then be rinsed, followed by a blow-dry, style and perhaps a cut. The whole process takes roughly five hours in total. PROS: Last forever. That means that you won't see any curly hair until new hair grows in. CONS: Last forever. That means that when new curly hair grows in, you will have a ring of frizz on the top followed by dead straight hair. The only way to look "normal" - with hair either entirely straight or entirely curly - is to have your hair redone, in about six months' time, or to straighten the top bits with straightening irons. Also, repeated application of the Yuko system can cause extensive damage to hair - and not just the ends. Not recommended for use on color-treated hair as it will damage it too much. Opti-Smooth. Similar to the Yuko System, but you will have a choice of results: cold-smoothing is for less frizz, progressive smoothing will leave you hair looking as if it's just been freshly blow-dried, and heat-straightening will make it look iron-rod straight (that's just so passe, darling!). PROS: Lasts forever (see Yuko, above). If your hair is shorter or you choose cold-smoothing, the salon time will be considerably lessened. CONS: Lasts forever (see Yuko, above). Unlike the Yuko system, however, Opti-Smooth claims to be kinder to hair long-term, with less damage and breakage. Not for dyed hair. Other Ways To Straighten Hair * Blow-Drying. Many people seek to blow-dry their hair to make it straight and sleek, although often only a salon blow-dry can have truly effective results. Can damage hair long-term. * Hair Straighteners. A variety of flat irons or hair straighteners are on the market today - those with ceramic plates are usually considered the best as they work by gliding through the hair without it catching on the edges and splitting. It's advised to use them sparingly with special products/gels that minimize heat damage to the hair. * Home Relaxing Kits. Much like a do-it-yourself salon-style routine. Apply straightening cream, leave on, rinse away, straighten with straightening iron, neutralize, wash and blow dry. Takes about two hours in total, more for longer hair. Good luck! * Ironing. Time was when many young girls had their hair ironed - with a clothes iron - to have straighter tresses. The process could take up to an hour and was often saved for special occasions. Required two people: one to lay her head on the ironing board while the other wielded the iron. Had to be a trusted friend - with excellent eyesight! Hair straightening is just another way that us mortals deal with "the grass is greener" syndrome. In the 1970s and 1980s everyone was rushing to have a perm and make their straight hair curly, now the reverse is the talk of the town. If you decide to go the permanently straight route, it's important to find a salon you trust. Take heed if your hair is dyed, colored or even just highlighted, as this may affect the outcome of the straightening process - even if your stylist assures you this isn't the case! Remember, also, that all chemically straightened hair will require a good hair-care routine to keep it looking good. This means using a protein-rich shampoo, conditioner and other anti-frizz products, as locking in all the moisture possible will be crucial in maintaining that salon style. Sarah Matthews is a writer for Yodle, a business directory and online advertising company. Find a Healer at Yodle Local or more Health & Medicine articles at Yodle Consumer Guide.

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