Smooth Shiny Straightened Hair

Woman with smooth and shiny long hair
Q: : I want to have smooth shiny hair. Must I use a straightener or some kind of product?
A: Unless you were born with hair that is naturally smooth and shiny you generally have to do something to your hair to achieve this look. What you need to do and how long you will need to spend on your hair is dependent on the current texture and wave pattern of your hair.
If you have mostly smooth wavy hair already, you can usually achieve a smooth, straight, shiny look by using a flat-iron to press out the waves. A person with masses of coarse, thick curls, however, will probably only be able to achieve mostly smooth curves without resorting to professional chemical services.
There are many products on the market today that are designed to help women (and men) tame their hair and achieve the smooth, sleek hairstyles they desire. There are "smooth and sleek" formula shampoos and conditioners with high-protein content to smooth the cuticle layer and make the hair less frizzy and shinier.
And there are styling products specifically designed to help you achieve a straight hair style. For those with lesser amounts of curl or simply wavy hair, these can give you what you want, especially if used in conjunction with blow-drying and flat-ironing.
However, these products and appliances only give a temporary result. For longer term straightening, you will need a chemical service to change the wave pattern of the hair. Today, we have a few options to choose from to achieve this: thio-relaxing, hydroxide relaxers and thermal restructuring/reconditioning.
Thio-relaxing uses a standard permanent waving solution to break the disulfide bonds of the hair, allowing it to be combed straight, and then neutralized into the straight pattern. It is generally the least harsh process available, and you can get your curls back by simply having a permanent wave to restore the curl.
Hydroxide relaxers also break down the disulfide bonds of the hair, resulting in straight hair from curly. It is a stronger, slightly harsher process that results in permanent removal of the hair's ability to curl. Once you've used hydroxide relaxer on your hair, you cannot undo the process. Furthermore, you should NEVER use thio-relaxers on hair that has been treated with hydroxide relaxers, or vice versa. Doing so will result in completely destroying the integrity of the hair, turning it into a waxy paste in your hands.
Finally, the newest technique for hair straightening is thermal restructuring, also called thermal reconditioning, or Japanese hair straightening. The process uses a combination of chemicals and heat application to completely straighten virtually every hair type. The results are near perfectly smooth, sleek hair and the process is growing in popularity.
However, the thermal restructuring process is expensive (hundreds of dollars) and takes a long time to accomplish (several hours) compared to the other two methods. It is also not suited for persons who have had thio-relaxers, perms, or hydroxide relaxers used to straighten their hair before.
Photo: Olena Zaskochenko/Shutterstock
See also:
How to get shiny hair
How to use a flat iron
How to blow dry hair straight