Different Systems of Hair Straightening Methods

The concept of creating a style with the aid of chemical straightener is not new, but certainly exciting. When properly applied to hair that is in good condition, these scientifically formulated straighteners can safely and successfully remove as much or as little curl as desired. Today, straighteners are available in many formulations and strengths for different hair types.

Hair straightening process:

In order for the hair to form a new shape, its protein structure must be softened so that the hair can assume the straight shape. It must then be “rehardened” to hold the new shape in the hair. The hair is softened by a chemical reaction that breaks the disulfide bonds. This is called the reforming step. The protein chains which were previously connected are now released from each other and move to take on the straight shape. Once the straightening solution is rinsed from the hair, a second chemical solution is applied. This is called the neutralizing or oxidizing agent. In this step the chains are locked in their new shape.

From smooth to sleek to straight, we’ve got the word on straight hair options. To help you decide in making a permanent decision you need a stylist who is experienced. Someone who is familiar with the service and have had worked with all types of chemical hair straightening procedures on different types of hair, and not only TR and TR products. Here’s what your stylist and salon needs to know.

There are three types of hair straightening systems.

The most common active ingredients used in chemical hair straightening products are: Sodium hydroxide (lye) Guanidine calcium hydroxide (no lye)and Ammonium thioglycolate. Since the inception of TR, more and more people are having their hair chemically straightened.

To avoid major problems it is now imperative for clients to know which chemical ingredient was used on their hair. Sodium hydroxide and Guanidine calcium hydroxide relaxers are interchangeable. However, Thioglycolate and cysteamine are not interchangeable with Sodium hydroxide and Guanidine calcium hydroxide relaxers.

There is another hair straightening chemical ingredient, it is called Cysteamine hydrochloride. It straightens hair at a lower pH than thioglycolate, so it is considered somewhat milder. The negative to Cysteamine is that it smells like cat urine in the hair and the smell persists. Suffice to say, thioglycolate is the # one choice with stylists.

Sodium hydroxide hair relaxer.

Sodium hydroxide is used to remove unwanted curl from the hair. The difference between the strengths depends upon the percentage of active ingredients. This relaxer is alkaline in pH, which forces the cuticle to open so that the relaxer can penetrate into the cortex layer of the hair. Once there, the sodium hydroxide breaks the disulfide bond. When this happens, the hair will smooth out to a straightened form due to the weight of the crème, the pressure of smoothing, or in extremely curly hair, the gentle combing of the hair.

Most relaxers these days are sodium hydroxide based. Occasionally, guanidine calcium hydroxide is used, although most stylists agree that sodium hydroxide relaxers provide the best results. As most people are aware, sodium hydroxide (lye) is a pretty harsh chemical. Hair straightening/TR treatment services requires “Speed of hands”, especially sodium hydroxide and guanidine hydroxide hair relaxing systems. It is also important to remember that the chemical action of sodium hydroxide is irreversible.

Guanidine hydroxide hair relaxer.

Guanidine hydroxide relaxers are very similar to sodium hydroxide. It is generally used on clients with sensitive scalp. Guanidine hydroxide hair straightening system is also irreversible.

When to use sodium hydroxide or guanidine hydroxide hair straightening/ relaxer method:

Think about when other chemical hair straightening systems don’t work! Sodium hydroxide and guanidine hydroxide relaxer is used multi-culturally to relax all textures of hair to an almost desired level of straightness. These relaxers may be the only alternative for overly curly, corkscrew-like, excessively kinky hair. It does do not defy frizz, and requires humidity control styling products.

Ammonium thioglycolate hair straightening.

Thioglycolate is used to straighten as well as curl the hair. Therefore, the process is reversible. The same chemical reaction that put curl in hair during the permanent wave procedure, takes curl out of hair in chemical straightening. Thioglycolate is used primarily on hair which has a very soft curl and soft wave pattern. Generally, it is not effective on African Canadian, overly curly, excessively kinky or wiry hair. Thioglycolate is the main chemical ingredient in Japanese Thermal Reconditioning/TR systems, and permanent wave products. The reforming solution (crème/gel) that is applied to the client’s hair generally contains 5-15% of thioglycolic acid compound. Perms for highly damaged hair contain less. Perms for resistant hair contain more.

The straightening solution contains other ingredients too. Alkaline substances such as ammonium carbonate are used to give the desired alkaline strength. Detergents are used to help the solution “wet/adhere” the hair more easily and make penetration more uniform. Chelating (metal binding agents) are used to remove metals like iron and copper. These metals can make the solution turn purple or green and give the hair a distinct odor. Conditioning ingredients, such as proteins, emollients and polymers help protect hair during the straightening and keep it manageable. And of course, a fragrance is added, since the “thio” compounds all possess a rotten egg or skunk-like odor. In general, these additional ingredients determine the speed and efficiency of the straightening step.

When naturally curly/wavy hair has ‘a mind of its own’, thioglycolate takes you Vertically Straight to more flexible styling and keeps it in line. It softens hair, making thick, coarse hair more manageable - excellent choice for fine and low density wavy, frizzy hair. Its versatility also allows clients to retain their waves by drying hair naturally or blow dry with a paddle brush. You get the best of both worlds since locks never become flat or stick-straight and your hair becomes more silky and responsive to a variety of styling methods and products. It produces dramatic results in most types of hair.