Frizz, curls, and puffy hair. This evil trio has shadowed me since childhood and now seems to be the root of my teenage girls’ problems. Can you imagine the injustice of it all? While lucky lasses brush through their luxurious long locks with ease, we are raking, untangling, and flat-ironing away. And the saddest part of this tale is that it takes just a few raindrops to take us back to square one.
After purchasing every serum, spray, and piece of hardware on the marketplace, I decided to use my skills as a writer and researcher to find a solution to help my daughters comb through the situation. I earnestly set out on the North Shore for some beauty help. I was a woman on a mission. No curls. No puffy hair. No frizz, and absolutely no way was I returning home with girls in ringlets and waves. I was going to straighten out this situation with finesse.
First I asked Toni Lage of Heavenly Hair in North Reading to explain the various techniques to try to achieve smooth straight hair. “You can simply wash, blow out, and flat iron,” she told me. “There is also a chemical relaxer that alters hairs’ natural bonds to a straighter desired result and lasts up to three months.
“Next there is a new product, IStraight, which is a Japanese thermal hair-straightening system that lasts up to one year and completely changes your hair structure. You must be certified to work with this product.
“Some salons do not offer this service due to the extensive training entailed. All three are safe for teens, as long as they are candidates for these services,” said Lage.
Next I met with stylist Briana Lord of Strands in Swampscott, who agrees there are three straightening techniques: flat iron, a relaxer, and an ionic treatment. While the flat iron offers a short-term solution, the relaxer acts like an antiperm and helps manage and tame hair for a few months. The ionic system promises permanent hair straightening.
Lord used a relaxer on my daughter’s hair, transforming it from tangled tresses to a more manageable mane. Lord meticulously combed the relaxer through the hair, coaxing it to become smooth and manageable. Although the smell of the relaxer is overwhelming, the result is stunning straight hair that looks and feels fantastic.
Lord was quite knowledgeable about the myriad ways to straighten hair and let me know that while some people straighten their hair to be chic and stylish, for some girls and women, the process works great for hair management. My daughter Rachel reports that not only can she wear her hair down without it becoming puffy, but the relaxer has significantly reduced the amount of time she has to spend flat-ironing it.
Next we visited Philip Ciampa Salon & Day Spa, whose locations include Andover, Saugus and Wakefield. Our stylist, Josephine Armata, explained the benefits of hair straightening, pointing out that the ionic process is great for those who blow dry and straighten their hair every day. She did suggest that girls wait until they are at least 17 before they start using this process. Since my younger daughter, Emily, is only 15 she recommended that she learn the correct way to blow dry her hair, using the following tools:
– A good blow dryer with a nozzle
– Smoothing shampoo and conditioner
– Smoothing serum to eliminate curl and frizz
– A good flat iron
– A big round brush
– Clips to section hair.
Emily’s hair looked silky smooth and shiny after her blow-drying lesson. The only downside is that once she took a dip in the ocean, it was back to the natural wave, which was immediately put up in a bun.
Jose Batistine of Indra in Andover was trained in New York in Yuko’s 10-step thermal reconditioning system. He thinks it is the top-of-the-line luxury treatment of the year. Although the treatment is designed to permanently remove the hair’s texture, Batistine thinks the process leaves hair amazingly healthy, especially overwhelmingly thick and curly hair. The process takes from three to five hours and costs between $650 and $1,000. The cream relaxer is about $200.
Alexander’s Spa & Salon in Wenham also offers Yuko Hair Straightening as well as Razor Cutting. Used by celebrities such as Victoria Beckham and Sharon Stone, Razor Cutting creates a more natural and healthier looking hairstyle. It involves using sharp, knife like razors to slice and texturize hair and is ideal for creating movement in straight hairstyles.
I am happy to report that both my daughters are delighted with the result of our journey. Rachel is loving her relaxed and manageable mane while Emily is equipped with the tools to straighten her hair whenever she fancies. Perhaps one day we’ll be curlfriends, but for now we’re just talking straight.