Is a hair straightening treatment the same as a smoothing treatment?

Is a hair straightening treatment the same as a smoothing treatment?

If you are confused about the difference between straightening systems and smoothing treatments, you are not alone.  While they both make your hair straighter, the results are not the same and the technology is completely different.   Straightening systems use chemicals to break down the bonds in your hair, yielding the straight result.  Most smoothing treatments work by modifying the bonds in your hair, without breaking them completely….and yes it is confusing, but in this article we'll explore how these treatments work and what benefits each offers so that you can choose which one—or neither—is right for your style needs.

A hair smoothing treatment is not a straightening treatment.

A smoothing treatment is not a straightening treatment. A hair smoothing treatment is designed to reduce frizz, damage and wave in your hair to make it more manageable.  It is for people seeking straighter, softer, more manageable hair, but not for those seeking “pin straight” hair.  The chemicals used in most of these processes alter the structure of your hair so that it's smoother and less prone to tangling or frizzing up when exposed to humidity or heat, but these treatments do not completely break down the  bonds in your hair.  That’s why most of these treatments simply wash out over time and gradually your natural curl will return.  Some last for a few weeks and some for months. 

woman with smooth hair from keratin treatment

A hair straightener is not a smoothing treatment.

A straightener is not a smoothing treatment.   A straightener is designed to remove all curls from your locks completely.  Most of them work by breaking down the bonds in your hair, so that hair is permanently straight.  It won’t wash out over time.  If you want the curl back, you’ll need to wait until it grows out (or get a perm!)  It doesn't matter if curls were natural or relaxed, a straightener will leaved them bone straight until the roots grown out.  If you want to keep it straight, the roots will need a meaningful touch-up appointment in a few months.


To summarize, straighteners, like a “Japanese” straighteners or other similar straightening systems break the bonds in your hair and leave it pin straight.  If that’s the look you are seeking and you are comfortable with strong chemical treatments, that may be a good option.   In contrast, salon keratin treatments, like the those know as Brazilians or “keratins”,  reduce frizz, curl and wave but do not yield pin straight hair.  Most salon smoothing treatments, not all, use formaldehyde or formaldehyde donors to  get the desired result.   They wash out over time, generally between 3 and 5 months.  Both of these categories of treatments are done in salons and have many happy regular users.   Average price of Japanese straighteners and Brazilian type keratin treatments in salon is between $300 and $500 which varies by salon, region and your hair.


You should consult your stylist, who is the best expert you can find, for what’s best for you.  If you are seeking a less expensive formaldehyde free at-home smoothing treatment that you do yourself that lasts for months, you might want to Google “at home smoothing treatments” or click here for an option. Psst... Keratin Salon Direct is a smoothing treatment.