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The Difference Between Hair Smoothening and Hair Straightening: A Detailed Comparison

Updated: Feb 27



Hair smoothening and hair straightening are two popular hair treatments that can transform frizzy and unmanageable hair into sleek and smooth tresses. Although they might seem similar, there are some significant differences between these two hair treatments in terms of the techniques used, results achieved, and maintenance requirements.


Objective:

  • Hair Smoothening: This process aims to soften and relax the hair's natural texture, making it more manageable by reducing frizz and flyaways. Hair smoothening treatments often focus on enhancing shine and improving overall hair health while maintaining some level of natural movement and volume.

  • Hair Straightening: Hair straightening, on the other hand, seeks to completely alter the hair's structure to achieve a sleek, straight appearance. It involves transforming curly or wavy hair into a uniform, straight texture, eliminating any curls or waves.

Process:

  • Hair Smoothening: Typically involves the application of a formaldehyde-free chemical solution containing ingredients like keratin, amino acids, or other smoothing agents. This solution is applied to the hair, left on for a specific period, and then rinsed out. The hair is then blow-dried and flat-ironed to seal in the smoothing effect.

  • Hair Straightening: Hair straightening processes can vary widely depending on the technique used. Chemical straightening treatments, such as relaxers or Japanese straightening (also known as thermal reconditioning), chemically alter the hair's bonds to permanently straighten it. Heat styling tools like flat irons or straightening brushes can also be used for temporary straightening by applying heat to the hair shaft to break and reform its bonds.

Results:

  • Hair Smoothening: After a hair smoothening treatment, the hair appears smoother, shinier, and more manageable. Frizz and flyaways are significantly reduced, but the hair retains some natural texture and movement, giving it a softer, more natural look.

  • Hair Straightening: The result of hair straightening is typically perfectly straight hair with no curls, waves, or kinks. It may appear sleeker and shinier than naturally straight hair, but it lacks the texture and volume of untreated hair.

Maintenance:

  • Hair Smoothening: To maintain the results of a hair smoothening treatment, touch-up treatments are required every few months as new hair growth occurs. Additionally, using sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners and avoiding excessive heat styling can help prolong the effects.

  • Hair Straightening: Maintenance for hair straightening treatments involves touch-ups as new hair grows, as the treated hair will gradually revert to its natural texture. It's essential to use gentle hair care products and minimize heat styling to prevent damage to the straightened hair.

Suitability:

  • Hair Smoothening: Hair smoothening is suitable for individuals with mildly curly, frizzy, or unruly hair who want to improve manageability while maintaining some natural movement and texture.

  • Hair Straightening: Hair straightening is best suited for those with very curly, wavy, or coarse hair who desire a completely straight, sleek look without any natural texture or volume.

Potential Damage:

  • Hair Smoothening: While hair smoothening treatments are generally considered less damaging than hair straightening, they can still cause some damage, particularly if overdone or if the hair is already weakened or damaged.

  • Hair Straightening: Chemical straightening treatments can be more damaging to the hair, as they involve harsh chemicals that alter the hair's structure. Heat styling tools used for straightening can also cause damage if not used properly or if used too frequently.

Duration:

  • Hair Smoothening: The duration of a hair smoothening treatment can vary depending on factors such as hair length, thickness, and the specific products used. On average, the process can take anywhere from a few hours to half a day.

  • Hair Straightening: Hair straightening treatments often take longer than smoothening treatments, especially for individuals with very curly or thick hair. The process can take several hours to complete, and multiple sessions may be required for optimal results, particularly for chemical straightening treatments.


In summary, hair smoothening is a milder treatment that can help to reduce frizz and enhance shine, while hair straightening is a more intense process that can create pin-straight hair. Ultimately, the choice between the two treatments depends on your hair type, desired look, and lifestyle. It's best to consult with a professional stylist to determine which option is best for you.

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