The next time you have a moment, look at a picture of a woman or a man from before the 1900s. Focus on the individual’s hair texture and style. Did you notice that curly hair was much more common in the 1800s and before? This pattern is due to the requirement for safe methods to conduct hair straightening. Before the early 1900s, the technology for safely straightening hair did not exist. The techniques commonly require a tool that is used to heat the hair, which is then straightened.
Continue reading as we review hair straightening techniques, materials, strategies, and tips. We will cover the process of curling the ends of hair with a straightener, common problems with the method, benefits of mastering the skill and related questions.
Origins of Straightened Hair
Hair straightening is a hair styling technique that was invented in the late 1890s to early 1900s. The process of hair straightening involves the individual making their hair flatter and straighter. The result produces a look and style that’s appealing to the hairstyling industry, people in general and especially women. The hair straightening process has been described as silky, sleek, modern and smooth. Since the technique’s inception, numerous variations have been invented.
Although hair straightening was introduced around the year 1900, it didn’t become popular until around 1950. The technique remains popular due to its heavy usage among African-American males as well as women of all races.
Hair can be straightened using numerous variations to the original technique. Hair stylists may employ a straightening iron, hot straightening comb, chemicals, Brazilian and Japanese varieties or a hair blow dryer. Additionally, there are gels, shampoos and conditioners that can assist in straightening hair.
In Southeast Asia, hair straightening is called ‘rebonding’. This variant of the technique originated in the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. The term ‘rebonding’ was popularized by a famous hair stylist’s shop in Singapore around the late 1980s.
Temporary Methods of Hair Straightening
Since the introduction of hair straightening into modern society, hair stylists have introduced different forms of the process.
There are temporary methods that don’t involve the use of chemicals, such as:
- Hot Hair Irons
- Hot Hair Combs
Both methods produce non-permanent, straightened hairstyles. The resulting hairstyle will usually revert to its natural form as a result of environmental variables, like:
- Contact With Water
- Bathing Or Showering
Tools and Resources for Temporary Hair Straightening
Five tools are used in the most effective, non-chemical hair straightening applications. These five tools are:
A Straightening Comb
- This tool also referred to as a hot comb uses heat to temporarily straighten hair.
- This tool also known as flat iron uses heat to straighten the hair in a similar manner to the straightening comb. However, it is quite different in appearance.
Blow Dryer With Attached Comb Or Brush
- A blow dryer should be set to low to medium heat level to attempt to leave hair undamaged by the heat. It’s used to heat the hair while a comb or brush is used for straightening or curling the ends.
Large Hair Rollers
- This tool can be applied to damp or recently wet hair. The method usually involves applying large rollers to the hair before using a blow dryer for drying moist hair. The dampness of the hair is thought to provide some protection against heat damage.
Electric Hair Straightening Brushes
- The fine points of the brush create heat, which helps to straighten the hair when brushing with the device.
- The Dominican Blowout is a temporary hair straightening method. The technique’s namesake and method originated from the Dominican Republic. The new process quickly found its way into the United States where it was made famous by Dominican hair stylists. This technique allows for highly-textured or tightly-curled hair to be straightened without chemicals.
- The Dominican Blowout has become extremely popular among African Americans for straightening their hair.
- This technique is highly complex and involves several steps to complete. The finished product will usually remain for about a week or until the hair contacts water.
Permanent Hair Straightening
Some people may decide that they’re tired of temporary hair straightening methods, so seek a more permanent solution to obtaining straight hair.
The majority of these permanent hair straightening methods change the chemical composition of the hair. New hair growth is believed to be unaffected by these chemicals, but the results of permanent hair straightening remain variable.
Methods of Permanent Hair Straightening
- This method is also known as the ‘Keratin Treatment’. During this treatment, keratin is applied to the hair and then it's heated using a hair iron. Keratin is a natural protein that is found the shafts of hair.
- The Keratin Method is considered safe for hair and suitable for almost all hair conditions. Notably, the Brazilian Method is ideal for hair that has been previously treated or damaged.
- Individuals shouldn’t wash their hair for three days after treatment. Three days after completing the straightening process, clean the hair with a Sodium-Chloride free shampoo and conditioner.
- This variation of hair straightening is also referred to as ‘Thermal Reconditioning’, ‘Yuko’, and ‘Rebonding’. This technique is a non-coating method, which focuses on cysteine bonds within the hair. Hair is made loose by applying a chemical for fifteen to twenty minutes. After that time has elapsed, heat is used to strengthen the hair bonds so the hair remains straight
- The Japanese Method is suitable for hair that has never been treated with chemicals. It is ideal for individuals with large, loose or medium curls.
- Hair washing should be avoided for three days after receiving the Japanese Method.
- Individuals who have undergone this technique should apply moisturizers and sun protectant to prevent any hair damage.
- Additionally, it is recommended that individuals who have used the Japanese Method should wait for one to two months for any further chemical treatment of their hair.
- Perhaps the most controversial of all hair straightening techniques. The relaxers method is also called ‘Chemical Straightening’. The technique works by applying chemical relaxers into the hair. These relaxers break down the hair’s strengthening bonds, allowing the hair to straighten.
- The Relaxers or Chemical Straightening Method is suitable for individuals with rough, tight curly hair.
Curling the Ends of Your Hair with a Straightener
Hair that is curved with a straightener can produce voluptuous, flexible curls that will never appear as ringlets. The technique requires a bit of practice, but once you’ve got some experience under your belt, your hair will look incredible and you’ll be feeling like a movie star. Now, let’s go through the step-by-step process of curling your hair with a straightener.
- Begin Technique With Dry And Clean Hair – Wet hair will not bend and damp hair won’t curl well. The hair needs to be completely dry and clean. Dirty hair won’t hold it’s straightened shape as effectively.
- Use A Thin Flat Iron – The hair straightener should measure around one to two inches wide from handle to plate. The tool should also have round edges to help produce the desired smooth curls
- Apply Heat Protectant – If you want to maintain your hair’s health throughout this process, apply a heat protectant. The protectant will form a shield between your hair and straightener. Without a heat protectant, it’s possible that your hair could tend to ‘frizzle’ or burn.
- Part Your Hair Into Sections – If you’re in a rush to have your hair finished, don’t try to straighten it all in one section. Hair must be in sections to produce an even, smooth result. The general rule is that the thicker your hair, the more sections you should divide it into for straightening.
- Alternate Flicks And Curls – Flicks and curls are two different movements that achieve curled hair. Flicks involve moving the hair straightener away from your head with your hair clamped inside the device. The curling movement is done by clamping the straightener around the hair, running it down the length of your hair and away from your head. Notice that the main difference in the movements is that flicks move the straightener closer to your head and curls move it further from your head.
- Experiment - Once you’re comfortable with the basic flicks and curl movements, experiment with different motions. Try to make bigger curls by rotating the straightener a full turn instead of a half-turn. Practice turning the straightener under and over. These motions, if done correctly, will result in curled hair. The rest depends on what you’re comfortable with and personal preference.
- Apply Hairspray – When hair refuses to curl or won’t hold, reapply hairspray to the sections before curling them. The hairspray will allow your curls to hold their shape exactly how they are when released from the straightener.
- Grab A Section Of Hair For Curling – The amount of hair in each curl is up to the individual. Smaller sections create smaller curls while bigger sections produce bigger, looser curls. Don’t forget that it’s fine to mix it up. You can try big curls on one part of your hair and small curls on another. There’s no one-size-fits-all method!
- Finish It Up – Once you’ve prepped and straightened your hair, there’s not much left to do. You can leave your hair exactly as it is or make some additional touches to complete a style. Gently run your fingers through the hair for looser curls. Apply hairspray to achieve a stronger hold. Now go and be proud of your beautiful, curly hair.
How much does it cost to straighten your hair permanently?
Undergoing a permanent hair straightening technique can be expensive. The full process can cost anywhere between $150 and $1,000. Additionally, after your hair is straightened, you may need to change to a different type of shampoo, conditioner and other styling products to maintain the appearance of your straightened hair.
What is the best straightener to curl hair?
The best straightener for curling hair is a topic that is fiercely debated and because there are many hair types, there are many different types of hair straightener. Which is better is a matter of personal preference and finding the one that will produce the best results for your hair. If you’re interested in straightening your hair, ask around, see if you can borrow or sample a hair straightener from a friend and talk to a professional hair stylist.
Why is my hair not curling with a flat iron?
Flat irons create large amounts of heat, which make it important never to neglect your heat protectant. Don’t confuse a hair straightener with a curling iron, holding your hair in the straightener for too long can put a crease into your hair. Glide the straightener through your hair and keep it moving. Try to use different speeds as well.