13 Side Effects Of Hair Smoothing

Everything has two sides, and so do the experiments you do on your hair.

Medically reviewed by Dr. K. Harish Kumar, MD DVL Dr. K. Harish Kumar Dr. K. Harish KumarMD DVL facebook_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Edited by , BA, MSc Eshna Das BA, MSc linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English Literature) Swathi E MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Last Updated on
✔ Evidence Based

StyleCraze believes in credibility and giving our readers access to authentic and evidence-based content. Our stringent editorial guidelines allow us to only cite from reputed research institutions, academic journals, and medically established studies. If you discover any discrepancy in our content, you may contact us.

If you are unaware of the terrible side effects of hair smoothing, this article is a must-read. Almost everybody fantasizes about having perfect, beautiful hair! Smoothing will perform miracles if you are a hair-obsessed woman who has little time for hair maintenance. You can have this procedure done before any major occasion, and you will be ready to flip your magnificent tresses. But hold on! It will, without a doubt, make you appear stylish, but you should be aware that it has numerous consequences. If you have had a hair relaxing or smoothing treatment before, now is the time to think before doing it again. If you are a beginner, take a breather and accept these adverse effects of hair styling. At the end of this post, you will be grateful to us! So, please allow us to walk you through the full procedure.

Hair smoothing treatments, also known as keratin smoothing or Brazilian blowouts, work by breaking particular bonds in your hair and again bonding them back together in a sleek and stylish form.

The first stage in the salon treatment procedure is to wash your hair with a deep cleansing shampoo. Your hair is then treated with a chemical hair straightening solution that reduces the cellular bonding in the hair cuticle. After that, your hair is blow-dried and flat straightened at a high temperature. This forms a waterproof coating, allowing the hair strands to keep their new structure for 3 to 6 months.

protip_icon Quick Tip
It is recommended not to go for a hair smoothing treatment more than two to three times a year.

Keratin hair treatments may produce pleasing outcomes, but they can have many adverse side effects. Keep reading to learn more.

1. Chronic Hair Fall

Chronic hair fall is a side effect of hair smoothening
Image: Shutterstock

Hair fall may or may not affect your beauty, but one needs to think beyond the aesthetic aspect of it. After all, it could be a sign of deteriorating health.

Hair fall is the most common side effect of hair smoothing. The excessive use of harmful chemicals and heat makes the hair follicles weak and detach at the roots, causing hair fall (1). As months pass by, the hair strands also lose their natural strength and start breaking.

According to Dr.K.Harish Kumar, MD, DVL, hair loss is the most common side effect of hair smoothing. The excessive use of harmful chemicals and heat damage makes the hair follicles weak and detach at the hair roots, causing hair fall. As months pass by, the hair strands also lose their natural strength and start breaking.

Raval Kaur, a Youtuber, described her experience of hair smoothing and how it affected her hair in the long-term. She said, “The first thing that i noticed was a lot of hair fall, even when I would brush my hair when there were no triangles, my hair would fall ridiculously (i).”

2. Dizziness, Teary Eyes, And Skin Rashes

Dizziness teary eyes and skin rashes are side effects of hair smoothing
Image: Shutterstock

The harsh chemicals used in hair smoothing treatments can cause nausea and dizziness. You might also feel a burning sensation near your eyes and itching in your larynxi  Also called the voice box, a hollow tube in the middle of the neck that allows air to pass from the throat to the trachea. . Your scalp and hair are also affected by this treatment.

The skin is the most sensitive organ of your body, and it is prone to damage. Since the chemicals are not supposed to touch anything but your hair, accidental skin contact can cause blisters or rashes on your scalp, face, and neck. Hair smoothing treatments also use a compound called formaldehyde, which makes the epidermisi  The outermost layer of the skin that protects your body from chemicals, pathogens, and UV rays of the sun. layer of your skin coarse, itchy, and red (2).

So, you see, beauty comes with a lot of baggage!

3. Damage To The Natural Hair Texture

Hair smoothing methods damages the natural hair texture
Image: IStock

When we were little, we loved our hair, irrespective of its texture. But as we grew up, curiosity seeped in and made us undergo harmful procedures to make our hair took ‘parlor-ready.’

In the smoothening treatment, the amino acids and disulfide bondsi  Strong and unique chemical bonds that are responsible for providing stability and strength to the hair shaft. in your hair strands are broken and rebonded, temporarily giving them a new structure. Thus, the natural texture of your locks is lost.

4. Extreme Dryness

Extreme dryness is the common side effect of hair smoothing
Image: Shutterstock

Keratin smoothing sure does make it easy for you to handle your wild curls for the first few months. But it may cause extreme hair dryness after a few washes. The toxins that alter the structure of your hair strands also damage them from root to tip. Use of harsh chemicals increases hair porosity and makes it difficult for the hair to retain moisture. Another reason for dryness is the seeping of chemicals into the scalp, causing scalp irritation and flakiness. The sediments of the toxins that remain on the hair strands also add to hair brittleness. Therefore, it is essential to oil your hair frequently to avoid dryness and hair tangling.

5. Split Ends

Hair smoothing treatments cause split ends
Image: Shutterstock

The moment you discover one split end, you know a whole army of split ends is close on its heels! And getting rid of them (without cutting your hair) can take anywhere from a few weeks to months. Exposing your hair to high temperature heat during a hair smoothening treatment can cause split ends. These chemical treatments suck out the natural moisture from your hair strands, which, in turn, causes split ends. Not only do split ends damage your hair strands, they also weaken your hair follicles.

protip_icon Did You Know?
Split ends can occur in different ways. These include the basic split (Y-shaped), mini split, fork in the road split (three ends), and tree split (many branches).

6. Dandruff

Hair smoothing methods cause dandruff
Image: Shutterstock

Dandruff is, undoubtedly, one of the worst hair problems to have. It takes away all the goodness and only wreaks havoc on your poor scalp. In fact, dandruff can be the precursor to various other hair problems, including an itchy scalp and scalp inflammation.

The chemicals used in hair smoothening treatments accumulate as sediments on the scalp. These sediments act as a catalyst in the production of dandruff flakes, which cause itching, hair fall, and greasiness (1).

7. Greasiness

Hair smoothing methods cause greasiness
Image: Shutterstock

Imagine waking up with greasy and smelly hair every other day. The excessive use of hair lotions and serums to maintain smoothened hair causes greasiness. Serums and creams are often recommended to protect hair from damage, but using them too often might not be effective. Frequent usage of serums can flatten your hair and make it look greasy. Constant greasiness can lead to dandruff and other hair problems.

8. Hair Thinning

Hair smoothing methods cause hair thinning
Image: IStock

With regular visits to the spa, you may think that your hair is getting pampered. But, in reality, it is being exposed to various chemicals! In a smoothening treatment, the density of your hair might reduce due to the breakage and thinness caused by the high temperature of the flat iron (3). This can lead to hair fall, split ends, and discoloration.

9. Hair Discoloration

Hair smoothing methods cause hair discoloration
Image: Shutterstock

Hair discoloration is a serious side effect that you might not notice immediately (3). Application of serums during the hair smoothing process, followed by strong chemical-based shampoos that are recommended to you post keratin treatment, can cause premature graying of hair.

10. Health Hazards

Keratin smoothening cause health problems
Image: Shutterstock

Beauty comes with its fair share of baggage, and health issues are one of them. The chemicals used in keratin smoothening can cause lung problems and skin conditions. Inhalation of these chemical substances can lead to difficulty in breathing and other respiratory problems (2).

People with sensitive skin need to be extra careful while undergoing hair smoothing as these chemicals can cause itching, redness, and breakouts.

11. Stress

Hair smoothing treatments cause stress
Image: Shutterstock

Let’s be real – hair smoothening requires a lot of commitment. A ton of effort needs to be put into maintaining smoothened hair and making it look flawless. The stress caused in perfecting every strand might take a toll on you. Not to mention, the big bucks you will need to spend on special serums and shampoos to ensure the smoothing effect does not fade away.

12. May Cause Contact Dermatitis

Hair smoothing treatments can also trigger contact dermatitis in some individuals. This adverse reaction stems from sensitivity to treatment chemicals. A study highlighted that the Brazilian keratin treatment contains high formaldehyde levels, which can cause severe allergic contact dermatitis. A 37-year-old woman’s case demonstrated facial edema and scalp inflammation a day after BKT application (4). Hence, caution must be exercised as there is a possibility of inflammation.

13. May Lead To Denaturation Of Keratin

Hair smoothing treatments employ high heat and chemicals that may denature keratin, a vital hair protein. Denaturation weakens hair and leads to frizz and breakage. Experimental studies have highlighted that excessive heat exposure alters the keratin structure and harms cuticles (5). Opting for gentler hair care is vital to preserve hair health and prevent long-term damage.

Infographic: Adverse Effects Of Hair Smoothing

Hair smoothing gives a new and stylish look to your hair. It makes it easier to maintain and style your hair for any occasion. However, it has its own downsides too. While we have already discussed the major side effects of the hair smoothing treatment, we would like to stress the major adverse effects of the chemical substance used in the treatment. Check out the infographic to know how these harmful chemicals affect hair and health.

adverse effects of hair smoothing (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Hair smoothing treatments are known for making your hair silky smooth, aiding in hair management and styling. But, as an old saying goes, healthy hair is a sign of perfect hair. Using these smoothing treatments decreases your hair health drastically. These treatments break the bonds within your hair strands to change your hair structure. This leaves your hair open to serious damage like hair fall, texture deterioration, split ends, dandruff, dryness, and more.

To prevent hair damage, opt for natural straightening remedies instead of keratin smoothing or Brazilian blowout treatments as natural methods of smoothing hair can be gentler and less harmful.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is keratin smoothing treatment good for hair?

Keratin smoothing treatment involves high doses of chemicals and exposure to heat from a flat iron. Keratin is usually mixed with formaldehyde and applied to your hair, followed by flat ironing it at 450° F. This can have a dangerous effect on your hair and scalp. Therefore, keratin hair smoothing is not good for your hair.

Does repeated smoothing damage hair?

When your hair undergoes a hair smoothing treatment, it might appear to work wonders and make your hair look glossy and shiny the first few times. But after a few washes, the shine wears out, and your hair becomes dry and starts breaking. This can also lead to split ends. So, yes, repeated smoothing does damage hair.

Is smoothing good for thin hair?

Dr.K.Harish Kumar, MD, DVL, recommends not going for hair smoothing treatment if you have thin locks as it makes the hair strands even finer and results in hair breakage. If you are looking for treatment for frizzy hair, it is better to go for natural homemade remedies.

Can I oil my hair after smoothening?

You need to wait for about 10 days after a smoothening treatment before you can apply oil to your hair. Also, it is best to apply warm oil and leave it on overnight.

Can I tie my hair after 3 days of smoothening?

Yes, you can tie your hair after 3 days of undergoing a hair smoothening treatment. But any sooner, and you risk creating a dent on your hair where you tied it as the hair tries to return to its original structure.

Which is better: rebonding or smoothening?

Smoothening causes less damage to the hair than rebonding and also looks more natural. Hence, it may be a better option if you don’t want any permanent hair texture changes.

Key Takeaways

  • The hair smoothening process involves the use of harmful chemicals like formaldehyde and sodium hydroxide.
  • The process may lead to chronic hair fall.
  • They may result in scalp irritation, itching, and redness.
  • Inhaling fumes from hair-smoothing may lead to respiratory problems.
  • Overuse may damage hair resulting in split ends, dryness, and hair thinning.
Side Effects Of Hair Smoothing_illustration

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team

Find out if hair smoothening damages your hair with this video featuring a doctor. Check it out for expert tips on how to protect your hair from damage and how to regrow it naturally.

Personal Experience: Source


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Hair smoothing treatments: Perceptions and wrong practices among females in Saudi Arabia
  2. Formaldehyde Exposure and Its Potential Health Risk in Some Beauty Salons in Kumasi Metropolis
  3. Human Hair and the Impact of Cosmetic Procedures: A Review on Cleansing and Shape-Modulating Cosmetics
  4. Induction of allergic contact dermatitis and pervasive face edema due to Brazilian keratin treatment
  5. Hair Styling Procedures and Hair Morphology: A Clinico-Microscopic Comparison Study
Was this article helpful?
Dr. Harish has 14 years of experience in the field of dermatology. He did his MD (DVL) from Osmania Medical College in 2007. He worked as a consultant for Kaya Skin Clinic and also as a principal Investigator for 4Front Research.

Read full bio of Dr. K. Harish Kumar
Arshiya Syeda
Arshiya SyedaSenior Editor
Arshiya Syeda is a senior editor at StyleCraze with 7 years of experience. Prior to that, she was a content writer and combined her writing and research skills to write over 200 high-performing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and skin care.

Read full bio of Arshiya Syeda
Eshna Das
Eshna DasAssociate Editor
Eshna is an associate editor and a certified skin care coach. She has over three years of experience, a triple main bachelor’s degree in psychology, English, and journalism from Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru, and a master’s degree in psychology from Sampurna Montfort College, Bengaluru.

Read full bio of Eshna Das
Swathi E
Swathi ESenior Beauty & Lifestyle Writer
Swathi has a postgraduate degree in English literature from The English And Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, and over three years of experience in writing on beauty, health, and lifestyle. She also has a diploma in English journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Kottayam, and is a certified skincare coach.

Read full bio of Swathi E
function isEmpty(str) { return (!str || str.length === 0 ); }