Well, let’s be clear. For decades, women of African descent around the world have relied on various proven methods to “relax” their hair. Then about a decade ago, the Yuko system caused quite a scandal among people of all colors when it arrived from Japan, followed by Opti-Smooth. Now, a third contender is fighting to become the leader in the hair straightening stakes: the Brazilian.

Not what the name might imply, Brazilian is a relatively new hair straightening system that has nothing to do with waxing pubic hair. It’s a semi-permanent way to straighten the hair on your head, using keratin, and sometimes formaldehyde, to tame even the curliest locks. But while it may be taking the hair world by storm, it even has its drawbacks …

If you are thinking of straightening your hair for more than an occasional night out, you may be considering a permanent straightening system. Here’s the best, and worst, of the most popular systems on offer today. Remember, success will depend not only on your hair type and how rigorously you adhere to its maintenance, but also on the skill of your stylist, as well as the products you choose to use.

Brazilian hair straightening (also known as Brazilian Blow-Out or Brazilian Keratin Treatment). The stylist applies active keratin, a protein that is found in the top layer of our skin and makes it waterproof and resistant, although it is sometimes used in conjunction with formaldehyde, which can be dangerous (see below). The formula is then sealed into the hair with a hot iron, eliminating frizz, curls, and unruly waves. It takes about two hours, more for longer or unruly hair.

PROS: It will gradually fade, which means it will eventually grow out and leave you with natural waves once again. It takes less time in the salon and generally costs less than the Yuko or Opti-Smooth system. Leaves hair with more body than the Yuko System and can be used on both colored hair and virgin hair.

CONS: The effect does not last as long as Yuko or Opti-Smooth, around three to four months. And if the product contains actual formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, you’ll need to check with the salon first – this could be a health hazard, both for you and your stylist. Note that the FDA does not regulate the use of formaldehyde in cosmetics.

The Yuko system. Created in the 1990s, it can straighten any type of curly hair in about five hours, for about six months or so, depending on the hair. After a consultation with your stylist, your hair will be washed and segmented, then the application will be applied for about 20 minutes, depending on the length of the hair, etc. Then it will be ironed and a neutralizer will be placed to restore the bonds of the hair. It will then be rinsed off, followed by styling, styling, and perhaps a cut. The whole process takes about five hours in total.

PROS: They last forever. That means you won’t see any curly hair until new hair grows.

CONS: Lasts forever. That means when you grow new curly hair, you will have a frizz ring on top followed by dead straight hair. The only way to look “normal”, with hair completely straight or completely curly, is to redo your hair, in about six months, or straighten the tops with straightening irons. Additionally, repeated application of the Yuko system can cause significant damage to the hair, and not just the ends. It is not recommended for use on colored hair as it will damage it too much.

Opti-Smooth. Similar to the Yuko system, but will have a variety of results: cold straightening is for less frizz, progressive straightening will leave your hair looking like it has just been blow-dried, and heat straightening will make it look like a flat iron. straight rod (that’s happening baby!).

PROS: Lasts forever (see Yuko, above). If your hair is shorter or you choose cold straightening, the styling time will be greatly reduced.

CONS: Lasts forever (see Yuko, above). However, unlike the Yuko system, Opti-Smooth claims to be kinder to hair in the long run, with less damage and breakage. Not suitable for colored hair.

Other ways to straighten hair

* Air dried. Many people seek to blow-dry their hair to make it smooth and straight, although often only a salon blow dryer can have really effective results. It can damage hair in the long term.

* Hair straighteners. Today there is on the market a variety of straightening irons or hair straighteners; The ones with ceramic plates are generally considered the best as they work by gliding through the hair without snagging at the edges and splitting. They are recommended to be used sparingly with special products / gels that minimize heat damage to the hair.

* Relaxation kits for the home. Much like a DIY salon-style routine. Apply smoothing cream, leave on, rinse, straighten with an iron, neutralize, wash and dry. It takes about two hours in total, more for longer hair. Good luck!

* Ironing. There was a time when many girls had their hair ironed, with a clothes iron, to have straighter hair. The process could take up to an hour and was often saved for special occasions. Two people were needed: one to rest his head on the ironing board while the other wielded the iron. It had to be a trusted friend, with excellent eyesight!

Hair straightening is just another way we mortals deal with the “grass is greener” syndrome. In the 1970s and 1980s, everyone was rushing to get a perm and have their straight hair curled, now the opposite is the talk of the town.

If you decide to go the permanently straight route, it is important to find a salon that you trust. Pay attention if your hair is colored, colored or even highlighted, as this can affect the result of the straightening process, even if your stylist assures you that this is not the case!

Remember, too, that all chemically straightened hair will require a good hair care routine to keep it looking good. This means using a protein-rich shampoo, conditioner, and other anti-frizz products, as retaining as much moisture as possible will be crucial to maintaining that salon look.