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What is Straightening Cream?

By T. Webster
Updated May 21, 2024
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Hair straightening cream is used by people who want to smooth and tame their curly or frizzy hair. There basically are two kinds of straitening cream; chemical and temporary. A chemical straightening product can last up to several months. Temporary straightening products last only about one day, then must be reapplied.

Hair thickness, coarseness and unruliness should be considered when deciding which kind of straightening cream to use. Hair that is simply wavy might need only a daily straightening cream to smooth it out. Tightly curled or extremely frizzy and unruly hair might need a chemical straightener to get it under control.

Both types of hair straighteners, also known as hair relaxers, have advantages and disadvantages. The chemical kind provides lasting results but can be damaging because of the harsh chemical ingredients used to smooth out the hair. In most cases, it is best to have a professional stylist apply chemical straightening products. Hair that is fine, color-treated or excessively dry is at high risk for damage or breakage. This can occur after one use or after the repeated use of chemical straighteners.

Relaxing the hair with chemicals is done via a procedure that might include first applying a protective, petroleum-based cream to the scalp to protect it. Next, a chemical hair relaxant is applied to loosen or straighten the hair. After a certain amount of time, a neutralizing lotion is applied to balance the hair’s PH level and reduce the risk of damage. Finally, a deep conditioning treatment usually is applied to further protect the hair.

Repeated use of straightening cream should be done with care, in order to avoid hair breakage. One way to do this is to touch only up the roots with the straightening product. The chemical straightener should not be applied over previously straightened hair. Touch-ups generally can be done at home using a store-bought straightener.

An advantage to using temporary straightening creams is, of course, the reduced chance of hair damage. These products also are readily available at stores and require no expertise to apply. The effect can also be easily eliminated or reversed by simply discontinuing use of the product. A chemical straightener might take several months to wash out or wear off.

A professional stylist is best qualified to assess hair and make product recommendations. If hair already is damaged, a stylist might recommend postponing chemical straightening. Hair breakage can travel all the way up to the scalp, and once hair breaks off or falls out, it can take years to grow back.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon143687 — On Jan 17, 2011

I got really curly hair and I would love it if I can get it to at least be wavy. It doesn't have to be completely straight but just "easy to manage".

By closerfan12 — On Oct 07, 2010

Has anybody used Loreal hair straightening cream? I had been using Chi straightening cream, but I want to change things up a little bit.

I had heard good things about both Loreal and Wella straightening creams, but more people seem to talk about Loreal, so I was thinking about trying it.

Do you have any idea which one I should try?

By musicshaman — On Oct 07, 2010

Fun fact -- they also have hair straightening cream for men. The only reason I know that is because my college roommate was one of those guys with hair down the middle of his back, and he used a hair straightening cream religiously.

One of those things you never really think about until you see it, I guess. His hair was really straight though.

By FirstViolin — On Oct 07, 2010

What would be the best straightening cream for an Asian woman with wavy hair? I really want to get the super-straight hair, and I've tried a bunch of straightening leave-in conditioners, but I think I'm going to have to break down and go with a straightening cream.

Do you guys know of a good at-home straightening cream that I could use without worrying about balding myself?

And what is the best hair straightening cream for people with my kind of hair? It's hard, but wavy, not curly. I would appreciate any and all advice!

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