11 Side Effects Of Hair Smoothing

Reviewed by Dr.K.Harish Kumar, MD.DVL
Written by Arshiya Syeda

Everyone dreams of having flawless, flowing hair! But if you are a hair-obsessed person who actually has no time for hair care, smoothing will work like a genie in a bottle for you! You can get this treatment done before any big event, and you are all set to flip that gorgeous mane of yours. But hold on! Sure, it will make you look all prim and proper. However, you also need to know that it comes with many ramifications. If you have already undergone smoothing treatment, this is the time for you to reconsider getting it done again. But if you are a first-timer, stop and acknowledge these side effects. I’m sure you will thank me at the end of this article! So, sit back and relax, I’ll take you through this entire process.

Also known as keratin smoothing and Brazilian blowouts, hair smoothing treatments work by breaking certain bonds in your hair and gluing them back together in a sleek new pattern.

The salon process goes like this: The first step involves washing your hair with a deep cleansing shampoo. Then, a straightening solution is applied to your hair. Your hair is then blow-dried and vigorously flat ironed at a high temperature. This creates a waterproof seal that helps the hair strands maintain their new structure for 3 to 6 months.

Keratin hair treatments may provide desirable results, but they also come with their own set of harmful side effects.
Let me run you through them:

1. Chronic Hair Fall


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. As months pass by, the hair strands also lose their natural strength and start breaking.

According to Dr.K.Harish Kumar, MD, DVL, 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. As months pass by, the hair strands also lose their natural strength and start breaking.

2. Dizziness, Teary Eyes, And Skin Rashes


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 larynx. 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 epidermis layer of your skin coarse, itchy, and red.

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

3. Damage To The Natural Hair Texture


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 bonds 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


Keratin smoothing sure does make it easy for you to handle your wild curls for the first few months. But it may cause extreme dryness after a few washes. The toxins that alter the structure of your hair strands also damage them from root to tip. Another reason for dryness is the seeping of chemicals into the scalp, making its surface flaky. The sediments of the toxins that remain on the hair strands also make them brittle. Therefore, it is essential to oil your hair frequently to avoid dryness.

5. Split Ends


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.

6. Dandruff


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 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.

7. Greasiness


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


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. This can lead to hair fall, split ends, and discoloration.

9. Hair Discoloration


Hair discoloration is a serious side effect that you might not notice immediately. 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


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.

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

11. Stress


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.

As the old saying goes, healthy hair is a sign of perfect health. To have perfect hair, you need to find a balance between natural and artificial hair care treatments. There are always alternative natural options to treat your hair instead of keratin smoothing.

Have any questions or concerns about har smoothing? Comment below to let us know!

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 450o 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 breakage. If you are looking for a treatment to reduce frizz and add shine, it is better to go for natural homemade remedies.

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Arshiya Syeda is an editor and certified counselor. Ever the lover of the written word, she served on the editorial boards of her school and college newsletters. Writing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and nutrition helped her combine her love for reading, writing, and research. As an editor, she helps her team members deliver polished and meticulously researched content. Arshiya is fluent in English, Urdu, and Hindi and aims to become a multilinguist by learning German and teaching herself American Sign Language (ASL).