Hair straightening is a hair styling technique used since 1980 which involves the flattening and straightening of hair in order to give it a smooth, streamlined, and 'sleek' appearance. It may be accomplished using a hair iron or hot comb, chemical relaxers, Japanese hair straightening, or Brazilian hair straightening. In addition, some shampoos, conditioners, and hair gels can help to make hair temporarily straight. The process is often called "rebonding" in Southeast Asia (e.g. Malaysia and Philippines). If done often, flat irons and chemicals can be damaging to hair. Excessive straightening often results in split ends. However, heat protectant sprays can decrease the damage.
Hair irons and hot combs can only temporarily modify the shape/texture of hair. The straightened effect will be reversed by environmental factors, mainly contact with water from washing, rain, humidity, etc. This includes water in styling products such as gels applied after straightening, although careful use of such treatments can still produce usable results not much different from if the user had naturally straight hair before applying the product.
Relaxers and the other methods permanently alter the structure of the hair, although new hair growth is not affected. The drug interferon alpha has been reported as being shown to modify hair follicles causing permanent change in a person's hair texture.
Hair straightening using a hot comb or relaxer has a long history among women and men of African American descent, reflected in the huge commercial success of the straightening comb popularized by Madam C. J. Walker in the early 1900s. While the practice has at times been a controversial issue in discussions of racial identity, visits to the hair salon have become embedded in black culture, fulfilling an important social role especially for women.
- Facts on Hair Rebonding
- Roger Highfield (2005-11-17). "Scientists hold out prospect of a pill to make your hair curl". www.telegraph.co.uk The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-01-08.
- Noliwe M. Rooks (July 1996). Hair raising: beauty, culture, and African American women. Rutgers University Press. pp. 51ff. ISBN 978-0-8135-2312-5. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
- bell hooks, "Straightening Our Hair", Z Magazine, September 1988
- Noliwe M. Rooks (July 1996). Hair raising: beauty, culture, and African American women. Rutgers University Press. pp. 8–10. ISBN 978-0-8135-2312-5. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
- Facts about Formaldehyde in Hair Smoothing Products, Info by OSHA
- Comparison between hair straightening methods
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