Straightening Mulatto HairQ: My son is mulatto. Although I keep it very short so that it will lie down, he is starting to ask to let it grow out. His hair is thick, coarse and wavy but straight in some places. Is there any product that he can use to make it straight, soft and moveable once it is long? What about a straightener? His hair isn't as coarse as a full-blooded African-American but it's not as soft or moveable as a Caucasian's either.
A: A straightening product will probably help you achieve the look you are after. My initial suggestion is that you begin by using a temporary staightener. There are products available that will offer 6-12 weeks of straightening to the hair and gradually relax to the hair's natural texture.
The next step, provided the temporary straightener gives you the results you want, is to try a thio-straightening process. This involves using a permanent wave process without using rods. The waving lotion is combed through the hair constantly to keep the hair straight while it processes, then rinsed out and the neutralizer is combed through to keep the hair straight while the chemical bonds are reformed.
It is also important to keep the hair well-conditioned so that it has sufficient weight to increase the movement and manageability. Once the hair is long enough, you can also use a flat-iron to further smooth the hair. Just remember that coarse hair tends to be more porous and can become damaged by thermal styling unless you use protective products.
On the subject of straighteners, I would advise against using a hydroxide "relaxer" because these processes break the chemical side bonds of the hair permanently. Once a hydroxide relaxer is applied to the hair, you cannot use any thio-straightener, and other straighteners may not be useable either, depending on their composition.
I always advise doing the least harsh thing to the hair possible. It may be that your son's hair texture will require stronger chemical straightening to achieve the look you want, but always keep track of what you do to the hair, and be careful to read all cautions and instructions on any home hair process you attempt before trying it out.
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