Hong Kong’s relentless spring and summer humidity plays havoc with our hair. Here’s how to fight back – Glow’s guide to hair straightening and hair smoothing in-salon treatments.
Hong Kong, Humidity & Frizz / What’s Happening to my Hair!?
Frizz is caused by your hair’s cuticle opening in response to the humidity in the air. When the cuticle is open the hair does not lie flat, producing the frizzing effect. Dry or under-conditioned hair is even more susceptible to frizz. So keeping your hair in tip-top condition at home is your first line of defence. But, let’s face it, those girls with the smooth and shiny locks you envy may well have had a salon treatment – but which one?
In this post we explain what to expect from some of the most well known smoothing and straightening treatments available in Hong Kong – bhave Smoothe Plus, Goldwell’s Kerasilk, Brazillian Blowout and Japanese Straightening.
Find a Great Stylist
The skill of the stylist is as important as the treatment itself. An experienced stylist will help you choose the best treatment for your hair type, and apply the refined techniques they have developed to achieve amazing results.
Smoothing and straightening treatments are expensive for a reason. The product itself and the time it takes even the most senior of stylists has a cost. Cheap deals are out there but beware, they may deliver less than optimal results, a shorter period of effectiveness and they may cause unrecoverable damage to your hair and potentially even scalp injuries. It’s always a good idea to get a word of mouth recommendation, either from friends or via social media.
Smoothing and Straightening Are The Same Thing Aren’t They?
While the effects definitely have much in common, they’re quite different processes.
A smoothing treatment, usually keratin based, does not chemically change the structure of your hair and when applied by an experienced technician should yield beautiful frizz free, manageable glossy hair. Combining a professional application and appropriate after care the treatment result should last 12 – 16 weeks before you see signs of the smoothing and anti-frizz effect fading.
Straightening treatments are semi-permanent, and use a combination of chemicals and heat to break the hair structure and re-form it to the desired smooth and straight effect. A skilled stylist will ensure that damage to the hair is minimised and the result should be healthy, straight, shiny hair without the frizz.
bhave Smoothe Plus and Goldwell Kerasilk
Two of the most popular treatments in Hong Kong are Goldwell Kerasilk treatment and the bhave Smoothe Plus treatment. Both are Keratin based treatments. Keratin is a protein and it is the major component in skin, hair and nails; in fact, the hair is mainly comprised of keratin-associated proteins. A keratin based treatment will restore your hair’s appearance, the hair will be strengthened and nourished and less dry. The keratin saturates the hair and when heat is applied smooths the cuticle so the hair appears glossy, shiny and very healthy.
A big plus with these smoothing treatments is that because they are formaldehyde free and applied to the hair and not the scalp, they are the the choice of many pregnant and breastfeeding mums. (But always check with your doctor prior to having any smoothing treatment).
On the downside, occasionally both the bhave Smoothe Plus and the Goldwell Kerasilk Control may slightly lift the colour of your hair or cause a yellowing of highlights. An experienced stylist knows how to minimise this happening, but on the rare occasion it does happen it can be easily rectified with a toner.
bhave Smoothe Plus treatment is paraben and formaldehyde free, using raw, rather than heat treated keratin. The keratin is a bioactive keratin protein, gently extracted from New Zealand sheep’s wool, keeping the critical amino acids and proteins as intact as possible.The keratin penetrates the hair shaft and is able to bind to severely damaged hair, supporting the internal structure and restoring strength, elasticity and shine to damaged hair. bhave Smoothe Plus is suitable for all hair types, however it is most effective on chemically damaged, dry and porous hair as the improvement in condition is significant in these cases.
The whole bhave salon treatment will take 2 to 3 hours. One downside of bhave is that you may not wet/wash or tie back your hair for the next 48 hours, as the keratin needs time to set into the hair. After 48 hours the hair should be washed, blow dried and ideally ironed again for best results, this can be done in the salon or in your own home.
The bhave treatment has one application process, it is enriched with keratin, argan oil, collagen and silk amino acids, if you have curls they will be softened or loosened and if you have wavy hair it will be smoothed. Whilst this treatment does have a smoothing effect when you ‘wash and go’, for the best results you should apply heat after each wash. This can be as simple as a quick blow dry and a quick smoothing with flat irons at home.
Goldwell Kerasilk Control treatment offers four different options according to how much curl, wave or body you would like to leave in your hair. And whilst not as natural and organic as bhave, Kerasilk Control treatment is also paraben and formaldehyde free.
The treatment will take 3 to 4 hours and, unlike the bhave Smoothe Plus, treatment is completed in the salon. So you can tie back your hair or wash again that same day if you choose.
A popular alternative to permanent straightening is the range of keratin smoothing products utilising methylene glycol or formaldehyde solutions. One of the most popular and controversial is the Brazilian Blowout.
Results from the original Brazilian Blowout treatment are consistent, long lasting and when done by a skilled technician, undeniably beautiful, leaving the hair with straightness and shine that lasts for months. Unlike permanent straightening the Brazilian Blowout washes out over time, so there is reduced concern about curly regrowth. However, this treatment is not suitable for everyone. It’s a chemical treatment and people with very damaged hair are advised against Brazilian Blowout. The Brazilian Blowout offers flexibility, so the stylist can customise the treatment to suit their client, this allows the choice of a smooth and sleek finish through to keeping the curl and losing the frizz — your stylist should discuss this with you during an initial consultation.
The Brazilian Blowout requires that the chemical solution is combined with the application of significant heat, and as such, is most suited for people with normal to thick hair who struggle with manageability. The treatment usually takes about two hours, it’s completed in the salon and should last for at least 12 – 16 weeks.
On the downside this is a controversial product. When heat is applied formaldehyde gas is released – this is a suspected carcinogen.
Formaldehyde exposure may cause skin irritations, allergic reactions and/or eye irritation and is not a treatment recommended for use during pregnancy or when breast feeding. There are also concerns about the effect of formaldehyde not only on the hair but also on the scalp where there are reports of excessive hair fall, particularly from repeat users.
The US FDA has received inquiries from consumers and salon professionals concerning the safety of hair-smoothing products containing formaldehyde or related ingredients, which may release formaldehyde gas into the air when heated.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a Hazard Alert to hair salon owners and workers about potential formaldehyde exposure from working with these products. FDA has issued warning letters to GIB, LLC dba Brazilian Blowout and to Van Tibolli Beauty Corp., citing safety and labelling violations.
The popularity of the original treatment has resulted in the term ‘Brazilian Blowout’ being used to describe all methylene glycol / formaldehyde based treatments, and whilst GIB LLC the makers of the original Brazilian Blowout first ran into trouble with the FDA in 2011 and after back and forward battles, modified the original Brazilian Blowout formulation — the later formula containing less than half the formaldehyde found in the original, many of these copycats have escaped legal action and FDA attention. These copy-cat products can contain far higher concentrations of formaldehyde and carry an even greater risk for both the stylist and their customer.
The take away here is to ensure that, if you choose Brazilian Blowout, you choose a salon the uses the original Brazilian Blowout product direct from the official distributor, that the room area where the treatment is applied is well ventilated and that you and the stylist use appropriate protective masks.
Hair straightening, typically known as Japanese Straightening, Ionic Straightening or Thermal Reconditioning, is often recommended for people with very curly hair.
The process for permanent straightening is similar to that of a perm. A chemical solution is applied to the hair and breaks down the bonds that support the hair’s curls. Japanese Straightening may take up to 7 hours in the salon and, for best results, the hair should be kept dry and not tied back for at least 48 hours.
The effect of Japanese straightening is poker straight hair from the root to the end. When done well, it will deliver beautiful glossy straight locks to even the most unruly heads of hair. The effect is permanent and as such the longevity of this type of treatment makes it attractive to some.
Unfortunately for curly heads, regrowth is a problem, as the curly hair grows out and the ends remain straight. The solution for this problem is to repeat the straightening process, have a short curly style hair cut or to perm the hair back to curly. The possibility of the first and third options are very much dependant on the condition of the hair after the straightening process.
If you love the straight effect and decide to repeat the treatment, one of the major challenges for the stylist is to ensure there is no visible overlap line between the first and subsequent treatments. An overlap line occurs where the hair has become porous from the chemicals and heat applied to the hair resulting in damage to the hair bonds which, in the damaged state, may over absorb colour or may not take colour at all. In addition the hair is likely to be dry and thirsty and may take on a dull appearance.
Whilst Japanese Straightening, when done well, delivers an undeniably beautiful straight effect, it does have the potential to cause serious damage to the hair and in the worst cases, injury to the scalp. There are a number of top salons in the UK and US, who have decided not to offer chemical straightening, or ask their clients to sign liability waiver release forms, because of the risks.
Sleek and shiny hair can be yours, even in the Hong Kong humidity, just track down a great stylist and together you can decide which treatment is the perfect fit for your lifestyle and hair type.This article first appeared on HK Hub.
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