10 Side Effects You Should Know Before Straightening Your Hair

Considering straightening your hair? Check out some 10 side effects of doing so from this piece to help guide your decision.

By Emmanuel Onitayo
10 Side Effects You Should Know Before Straightening Your Hair

Hair Straightening Can Be Good But...

Who can deny the beauty, orderliness, and luster of a straightened hair especially when it is just done? It's admittedly fantastic to behold. And that is why many of us rush to salons to get our supposedly frizzy, curly hair straightened up. But have you considered the fact that the process of straightening your hair can come with some side effects? Yes, it can! The degree of the side effects you can witness after straightening your hair would depend in part on the procedure used and in whole on the quality of your hair. So many hair stylists are usually very careful in carrying out this procedure because of their awareness of the possible side effects. Since you aren't probably new to hair care, it's not impossible that you are aware of some of the methods of hair straightening already. The traditional way involves using a straightener each time you want to step out to get those hairs straightened. However, if you have been doing this for a while, you would notice how slow it can be and how damaging the heat emanating from it can be to your hair shaft and even scalp. The modern way of avoiding this incessant usage of hair straightener is to do a permanent hair straightening which would require the application of some chemicals and creams such as glatt and x-tensor to achieve the aim. As the practice goes, the stylist first applies a sodium-based chemical which is meant to break down the keratin structure of your hair so as to make the shaft manageable. In most cases too, the next stage would be to apply an oxidant whose purpose is to neutralize the keratin and as such, get the hair straightened. This is just the broad operating principle as in practice; three major processes can be followed to achieve your hair straightening depending on your choice. However, the Brazilian and Japanese hair straightening processes seem to be the commonest. That said, this piece is about the side defects of straightening your hair by whatever method whether traditional, conventional or the use of Glatt. It's always good to know the possible effects of whatever we are doing before going ahead so we don't end up shooting ourselves in the ass. Ten of such possible side effects of straightening your hair are discussed below.

Hair Straightening Side effects #1: Allergy

It turns out to be that some of the chemicals used in straightening your hair contain certain harmful products that can elicit some allergic reactions to your scalp and skin. Most hair straightening products contain formaldehyde which is a common chemical used in preserving cadavers. This formaldehyde can lead to itching of your scalp and eyes, redness of scalp, blisters on the neck, difficulty in breathing, nausea, and all forms of rashes. Suffice to say is the fact that formaldehyde is a proven carcinogenic agent. That means that a prolonged exposure to it can lead to cancer of whatever sort. There are some creams (e.g. Glatt and x-tenso) and keratin treatment products that are said to be formaldehyde-free; nevertheless, these creams have been shown to still produce this chemical and the allergies as by-products especially with repeated usage. Usually, care is always taken by stylists to make sure there is no contact of formaldehyde with your skin while straightening but like you can guess, accidents do happen. So, witnessing any of these allergic reactions after straightening your hair would require that you consult your physician as soon as possible before it gets out of hand.

Hair Straightening Side Effects #2: Hair Boredom

Where a permanent hair straightening is what you opt for, you would have to live with that poker, pin-like hair for the rest of your life or you do something unusual which is cutting of your entire hair and allowing it to start growing again. You can't choose any other style because the straightening would have altered the keratin structure of your hair which before could have been manipulated to get the hairstyle that you want. Some have complained that this is boring. So, let's say there is an outing where a particular hairstyle is to be worn, you would be restricted to your straightened hair with little or nothing that can be done on it. This alone should make anyone consider this option twice before opting for it.

Hair Straightening Side Effects #3: Hair Loss

Where a Japanese hair straightening is what you do, a common side effect of such includes hair breakage and hair loss. The reason for this is the negative effect of the heat on your hair and perhaps, an improper straightening process by your stylist. Japanese hair treatment products which are often prided to be formaldehyde-free have also been discovered to contain ammonium thioglycolate, a chemical that is injurious to your health and which is also known to cause hair breakage and loss. For a permanent hair straightening process, the hair loss or fall is sometimes witnessed as one of the side effects of the chemicals and creams used on your hair. In most cases, the side effects observed from a chemical process is because your hair is saying No to the product and unless a drastic step is taken to stop the burning, you can lose a substantial amount of your hair to the process

Hair Straightening Side Effects #4: Possible Miscarriage

The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that a woman's fertility is greatly at risk when exposed continually to creams and hair treatment products that contain formalin. It also states that formalin can lead to a miscarriage in a pregnant woman due to complications. So, if you are pregnant and you've been to a salon to straighten your hair only for your stylist to say no, it's because of this. Even where Japanese hair straightening option is what you have in mind, there are fears that the process and creams might have some side effects on you thus leading to a miscarriage. Of course, you would agree that the pregnancy period isn't the time to take an unnecessary risk or experiment with Glatt and tensor. Pregnancy itself is sufficient a risk and adding some complications from a hair straightening process can prove fatal.

Hair Straightening Side Effects #5: Addiction

In addition to the potential side effects of a chemical or Japanese hair straightening process, another thing you may want to consider is the fact that you can become addicted to it. Hair stylists such as O’Toole say that "It becomes addictive, where at the first sign of frizz, [clients] are back in the chair." Addiction to a thing or process is the last thing you want to experience because like you may already know, it turns you to become a slave of what you are addicted to. Rather than you being in charge of the thing, it starts being in charge of you prompting you to go for it even when it might not be necessary.

Hair Straightening Side Effects #6: Excessive Dryness

It doesn't matter what type of hair straightening method you are making use of, the chemicals an heat which cannot be divorced from most of the methods often result in hair dryness. The natural oil and elasticity of your hair are depleted and the result is a coarse and brittle hair. It's possible you are thinking your hair is very good and wouldn't experience this dryness but the American Academy of Dermatology has stressed that heat does a considerable damage to any type of hair. And that means that even with a straightener, the risk of dryness is still there. Japanese hair straightening method also involves using heat which of course, depletes your hair of its natural oils. Of course, to address this, you may have to apply creams to your hair often and ensure that you don't straighten it too often. Tenso is said to help relax a dry hair but you may also want to check out other products. It is also good to consult an expert when considering straightening your hair with the chemical so as to avoid coming down with irreparable hair dryness.

Hair Straightening Side Effects #6: Itching

Although not usually intended but often happens, your hair follicle can die off because of the heat and chemical reactions during the process of hair straightening. This risk becomes greater with continuous straightening. Your hair follicle is loaded with a lot of cells and it resides beneath the dermal layer of your skin. The primary function of this organ is to regulate hair growth. So, where a considerable amount of your hair follicle has been killed by too much heat during the straightening process, the direct result can be hair loss. Also, the death of the hair follicle means you have little oil left to moisturize your hair and that can produce dandruff-like symptoms such as itching, redness, and flakes. This effect can also be felt around your neck or forehead too especially if you have become addicted to hair straightening.

Hair Straightening Side Effects #7: Dullness

Hair dullness arises as a direct result of not having sufficient natural oils from the skin to lubricate the hair. As such, you may discover that after the straightening, your starts looking dull and bland. Doing a permanent hair straightening even adds to the dullness by destroying the hair texture and posing a great threat to future hair growth. What many women do to combat this dullness is to get some home remedies to keep the hair shining. Such remedies include the use of apple cider vinegar hair rinse to keep the hair glossy and sometimes, avocado or argan oil is used to treat the hair. Any of the two can prevent the dull outlook but may not stop hair loss due to follicle damage.

Hair Straightening Side Effects #8: Frizziness

The reason you are probably thinking of straightening your hair in the first place is to combat frizzing but do you know that straightening itself when it has become so continuous can result in a more serious frizzing? The basis for this is the dryness that occurs in your hair because of the straightening. You can even experience mixed texture as such whereby the middle of the hair becomes curly while its terminal remains straightened. This can make styling a bit difficult for you. Overcoming frizziness would mean you would have to avoid straightening your hair every now and then. Once straightened, you can make use of a conditioner or wear a hair mask comprising coconut or olive oil to keep it moisturized.

Hair Straightening Side Effects #9: Toxins Release

Hairs that are chemically straightened have the tendency to release toxins even after days that you have left the salon. And where formaldehyde is a constituent of relaxers or chemicals used on your hair, that is what would also be released to the atmosphere or to your skin. When formaldehyde is released to your skin, the effect can be harmful especially in the presence of the sun's ultraviolet rays or when you are trying to heat-style your hair. Again, you may be disappointed to find out that even with a chemical straightening process, your hair is still not pin-straight. That's because some factors apart from those chemicals also determine how straight your hair would be. If you've got an extremely coarse or kinky hair, the best you would probably get from a chemical hair straightening is the loosening of the curls. The hair may still not be as pin-straight as you would have wished.

Hair Straightening Side Effects #10: Split Ends

Among other side effects that straightening your hair can bring is the problem of split ends. And with other side effects discussed, the reason for this is not different from others. The chemicals used combined with heat contribute hair-splitting at its ends. If you are lucky to have this condition minimal, you can control it further by trimming it but for all practical purposes, it's usually hard to correct side effects of a chemically straightened hair especially if the cause can be linked to a dead hair follicle.

Some Alternatives To Hair Straightening

It is soothing to know that straightening your hair is not the only available option in the hair care adventure and that means that all the side effects mentioned above can pretty much be avoided. It is only good that if there is a less complicated alternative for a thing, it should be harnessed. In place of hair straightening, you can use simple home remedies which would help keep your hair in shape. Many women have found the hot oil treatment of their hair effective with no side effect whatsoever. It has to do with warming any of olive, coconut, sesame or almond oil and then applying it to your hair. When you do this, comb and cover with a warm towel. You can then wash. That's all. Also, instead of going for hair straightening creams like Glatt and x-tensor, the egg and milk in your kitchen can also do. In fact, if you have a coconut, you can achieve almost the same aim. Wear a mask of any of these with lemon for 30 minutes and then wash; your hair would not only be shining but in shape. You can read more about natural ways of straightening and taking care of your hair outside the contemporary chemical and heat method. Even hair stylists that do the straightening sometimes want to avoid the process as it is injurious to their health. In Canada and Ireland, all the creams containing formaldehyde have been outlawed to tell you how the government there understands the danger it can do.

Final Thoughts

It is true that straightening your hair with chemicals or using the Japanese style of permanent hair straightening can add a lot of beauty to your hair. There are abundant testimonies in regards to this. But, of course, it is also true that there are adverse effects to this practice too and that is what we have done in this piece. While an expert should always be consulted if you still feel like going ahead with your hair straightening, it must be stated that the best of experts still make mistakes. Accidents do happen and these chemicals can get to your scalp damaging your hair follicle or on your skin causing irritations. Apart from an accident in the chemical applications, most (if not all) of the chemicals used and even creams have one side effect or the other. They may not have formaldehyde which is the most feared hair chemical as at present but their by-products often release this harmful chemical. And in most cases, after straightening your hair this way, you are instructed not to step out for some days so your hair doesn't get burned. In the light of this, it's pretty easy to advise that straightening your hair permanently with whatever means should be carefully thought over. If at all, it should be a last resort and shouldn't be too often. Instead of the tenso and Glatt, look for readily-available and natural means to take care of your hair. And most importantly, you need to embrace your natural hair; it's an indispensable gift from nature.