Tag Archives: hair straightening

Beauty Adventures: I Was a Late-Middle-Aged Hair Model

Time: a couple of weeks ago.

I’m recruited by my salon to test a new smoothing treatment.  I have high hopes, since I’ve been waiting for them to find a replacement for the straightening treatment I’d loved and which, sadly, has been discontinued.

This will be fun and instructive — I’m a geek about beauty info — and hey, it’s free.

I arrive for the class at 9 a.m. sharp  (a model must always be professional!) and have coffee while the stylists arrive.  There are six in all, including S, my go-to stylist, and they’re eager to learn about the new product.

Before she starts the presentation, the representative for Keratin Complex asks me about my hairstyle goals and lifestyle, e.g., do I do a lot of vigorous aerobic workouts? (Um, no.)

I do explain that I’d like my unruly waves to become as smooth and “ruly” as possible so that my hair can air-dry without a lot of fuss.  She explains that this process will smooth my hair and loosen the curl but it won’t straighten it the way a chemical process would. This is disappointing, but did I mention it’s free?

(IF I just let my hair dry naturally…) IMG-1110

All the stylists sit in a circle and K passes around information on the products and levels of curl. (Mine is considered moderate; I was hoping for something more dramatic, such as, “Wow, your hair will be such a challenge!”) I love all the technical stuff.

The company offers two types of treatments: an “express”, which is what we’ll be testing today and lasts up to 5 weeks, and a more in-depth option that should last about 5 months.

S washes my hair and K shows the team how to apply the product, comb it through, blow dry, and then do several passes with a special flat iron.  Each stylist takes turns doing sections of my hair, which is a bit weird, but they are here to practice. The whole thing takes about an hour, but a lot of that is Q&A from the class.

When they finish, my hair is shiny and silky, and the treatment has brightened up my highlights. I’m instructed to wait at least 24 hours before washing it, and I’m given small bottles of the brand’s sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner to use at home.

K says that she charges $75-$150 at her salon for the express treatment. This sounds a little steep to me, given that it’s only going to last a few weeks.  I’m thinking it should be priced more like a glaze since it’s not a straightening procedure that would alter the hair’s chemical structure for long-term results.

Anyway, off I go, armed with my products, to see how it works in real life.

The next day, my stylist texts to ask if I like the results (yes) and would I be willing to pay that amount for the treatment. (Honestly? Probably not.)

Two weeks and a few shampoos later, here’s my assessment: While my hair is a bit smoother and less likely to frizz, it’s not as silky as it was when I had the treatment. It’s still wavier than I would like, and takes a lot of time to blow-dry. To get a similar look I’d have to use a flat iron, which I try to avoid because it’s so damaging.

However, I’d recommend Keratin Complex to someone who isn’t looking to change their natural texture but does want their hair to be softer, smoother, shinier and resistant to humidity. 

Would this treatment appeal to you? How much would you be willing to pay?

(Left) After salon treatment.  (Right) Minimal styling, 2 weeks later.

 

 

 

 

 

Going Straight

I’ve always longed for straight hair. As a pre-teen in the Swinging Sixties I envied iconic model Jean Shrimpton, whose flowing mane seemed impervious to the rain, humidity and heat which turned my own careful flip into a flop faster than you could say “Carnaby Street”.

If you’re a woman of a certain age, you’ll remember ironing your hair — yes, bending over an actual ironing board and flattening it with an iron! — or setting it by wrapping your hair sideways around your head or rolling it over empty beer or soup cans.

In fact, the first time my husband saw me, in the summer of ’68, I was walking around the theatre where we both worked with my hair in those giant improvised rollers.

And yet he married me (admittedly, 40+ years later)!

Over the decades, I’ve sort of made peace with my wavy hair, but as I’ve gotten older it’s become harder to manage, with an uneven curl pattern exacerbated by wiry greys that insist on poking through.

I’d been tempted by keratin, Japanese and Brazilian treatments but the potential damage from harsh chemicals (including formaldehyde) scared me off. Then my colorist at Aveda told me about their Smooth Infusion Retexturizing salon treatment.

Aveda’s mission is to use as many organic and natural ingredients as possible, so their gentler formula protects hair during processing with organic jojoba oil and coconut-derived conditioners. Unlike a chemical relaxer, this is a thermal straightener designed to minimize potential breakage, while organic ylang ylang oil contributes a pleasant scent instead of a strong chemical odor.

The Smooth Infusion Retexturizing Treatment is not for the impatient or the faint of wallet. It takes about 3 hours and is not cheap. But after doing this a few weeks ago I’m convinced it’s worth it—and I should only need touch-ups every 6-12 months depending on how fast my curly roots grow.

One great thing about the Aveda system is that it can be customized from stick straight to loose curls. I opted to leave a slight wave so my fine hair wouldn’t be completely flat and would have some texture if I just let it air dry.

This is a multi-step process. After a consult about the desired results, and a caution that it may lighten hair a shade or two (which, for me, was a benefit), here’s what happens:

  • Shampoo and treat; rinse
  • Apply re-texturizing creme
  • Process (about 20 minutes)
  • Rinse
  • Blow dry and flat iron
  • Apply neutralizer
  • Process (about 7 minutes)
  • Rinse
  • Blow dry and finish
  • Don’t wash your hair for 72 hours.

Check out this You Tube video to see all the steps.

 

(Wet hair before treatment)                                        (Wet hair after treatment)

The result: My hair was smooth and shiny and the process did indeed lighten the color slightly. It’s now much easier to style, barely needs a flat iron to lie smooth, and hasn’t puffed up on the days we’ve had high humidity or rain. If I save 20 minutes whenever I wash my hair, the 3 hours spent at the salon will more than pay off.

Next time, I might even go straighter. All in all, highly recommended!

 

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