The Dangers Of Hair Straightening Explained

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When I was a kid, I had dead-straight, waist-length hair (and that was when it was tied up in a pony). Unlike some people, I actually liked the fact that my hair was straight. I didn’t want to have to deal with the hassles that come along with curly hair, and I liked the no-fuss of my straight tresses. When I entered sixth grade, I got the biggest haircut of my life – almost 12 inches!

My hair now reached only a few inches past my shoulders, and I felt light and free. I remember my friend jokingly saying that I had lost 3 kilos overnight. But an interesting thing happened – from that day onward, I never had straight hair. As the years went on, my hair became curlier and curlier, which ‘forced’ me to straighten it every day, to try and undo my hair’s transformation.

And I was very particular about it, too. I wouldn’t just quickly run a straightener through my hair for a few minutes to even things out – I would stand there for an hour and a half, making sure that not a single curl or ‘kink’ remained.

People probably mentioned that it wasn’t the best thing for my hair, but I don’t really remember getting that much flak – and anyway, anything was better than dealing with my frizzy curls, or so I thought.

Now, though, I’m not convinced. You won’t be surprised to know that I no longer straighten my hair – I’ve learned to embrace it in all its curly wonder. Like everything, straightening your hair is not without its risks, and they range from mildly unpleasant to downright dangerous.

Side Effects Of Hair Straightening Explained

Woman examining her damaged hair.

Damaged hair from straightening.

If your hair is naturally dry, then you’re probably well-acquainted with its next-of-kin – frizz. But where does straightening your hair come in? When you straighten your hair, you’re subjecting it to extreme heat. I mean, it steams, for heaven’s’ sake.

This heat completely dries out your hair (even if it’s not naturally dry – but how much more so if it is!) which causes your hair to frizz up…..which makes you want to straighten it again, further drying it out. Are you seeing a pattern here?

But (to quote Dr Suess) that is not all. Oh, no, that is not all! Mercilessly subjecting your roots to the heat of the straightener makes your follicles become weak, which leads to hair breakage and loss if you’re straightening on a regular basis – I can attest to this! (And I should mention that I have finished quoting Dr Suess, by the way).

Nobody wants frizzy hair, but losing your hair (even some of it) is definitely worse. While using heat spray does protect your hair somewhat, it’s still not enough if you’re going to be straightening it every day or every other day.

And that’s just the problems with home straightening. There are other problems with permanent straightening treatments – and they can be even worse.

Side Effects Of Permanent Hair Straightening Explained

Side by side of curly and straight hair.

Hair Straightening before and after.

For starters – and this might sound dumb, but it’s a real issue for those who have gone permanent – you can very easily get bored of it. While that’s obviously not life-threatening, it can be a bit of a downer when you want a little more life to your hair but can’t do anything except wear it straight.

But there are real dangers, too, such as the use of Formaldehyde, a chemical that is used in the Brazilian Blow Out. This is a process which can harm not only your wallet (haven’t you always wanted to spend a week’s worth of wages on hair treatment? Me neither), but it can also be harmful to your health.

BBO uses Formaldehyde, and once the hot iron heats it up, it gets reverted back to its original – and most dangerous – form, which is incredibly dangerous to inhale. It’s been proven to be cancer-causing at high amounts – amounts that many salons are using. If you’re going to be getting this treatment, make sure it’s a salon that doesn’t use Formaldehyde, or at least uses less than 0.2%.

There’s also the risk of developing allergies with permanent hair straightening if you’re allergic to the chemicals in the treatment. Symptoms include itchy and/or red scalp, itchy eyes or red eye. Definitely no fun.

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While straightening your hair once in a while for a party or a wedding isn’t likely to cause any long-lasting harm, don’t let it become a habit. It might look nice today, but the payoff just isn’t worth it – especially when considering permanent straightening. If you struggle with frizz, straightening your hair may fix the problem this minute, but it won’t last.

You’re better off leaving your curls and finding the right oil or anti-frizz spray to keep your hair nourished and looking as beautiful as it can. Everyone wants smooth, gorgeous hair – and that’s exactly why straightening treatments should be avoided.  By taking care of your hair, the right way, you can achieve the hair of your dreams – just in a slightly curlier version.

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