Are hair straighteners safe?

by Deena on August 24, 2011

OK, I’ll admit it.  I do get hair envy occasionally when looking at photos of various celebrities and their perfectly straight hair.

My hair was bone straight as a child but over the years has developed this kinky wave to it.  And I don’t mean a nice wave where you can just wash your hair and go… I mean the type where it looks like I’ve just rolled out of bed and encountered some serious static electricity along the way.

and not nearly as cute as this...

So when salons started offering those Brazilian or Keratin straightening treatments… I was tempted.  Well except for the price… $200-$600 per treatment seemed extreme… and I was slightly concerned about what it would look like once it started growing out.

In a recent conversation with a friend she had mentioned that she was thinking about getting it done… and I just said I don’t think it’s safe.  But that I would research it more for her – below are some of the questions she wanted answers to:

How does a chemical hair straightener work?
Your hair is made up of strands of keratin.  Chemical straighteners use substances like formaldehyde to to break the keratin bonds that hold the hair in its natural state. The new bonds reshape and hold the hair straight.

Is formaldehyde safe?
No, in a gaseous form, Formaldehyde has been classified as a known carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.  Often, during the process of chemically straightening hair either a flat iron is used to speed up the straightening process; or customers are asked not to wash their hair for a couple days post-treatment.  Heating the formaldehyde would cause it to vaporize making it easy to inhale.   While, leaving it on for periods of time enables it to be absorbed into the skin.

My salon or product says it’s formaldehyde – free, is it safe?
No, according to EWG when they investigated 16  brands that claimed to have little or no formaldehyde – in testing them, they found 15 of them to have substantial amounts.   To see the list of the products that have been tested by EWG and the results click here.

Is there a safe way to straighten my hair?
Yes, you can straighten hair using a hot flat iron.  No chemicals are involved, only heat.

Where can i find additional information on this topic?







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