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Thermal Straightening Natural Hair : Is It For You?

Thermal straightening or thermal reconditioning is gaining popularity and I want to give you all the deets on what they are and what they do.

Many of us want those laid tresses. Yes, we may love our coils, curls and kinks, but a sexy, sleek straight look is still coveted and can look amazing! While, many steer clear due to fear of heat damage, others try and find newer ways to get that sexy look without damaging the hair or if they want straight hair without using relaxers. Since this blog is all about education, I wanted to share some new ways to straighten your hair like thermal straightening and thermal reconditioning.


We are going to discuss two types of thermal straightening. One uses chemicals and the other uses a heating tool only.  This is for informational purposes only and I do not encourage anyone to try any of these techniques.  Now, let’s get into it!

Thermal straightening (Japanese thermal hair straightening) 

Japanese thermal hair straightening is also called an acid perm.  It is more similar to a traditional “straight” perm than it is to a keratin treatment. A keratin treatment is not permanent and merely smooths the surface of the hair without breaking the bonds and your natural texture gradually returns.  Here’s the breakdown of the thermal straightening that is permanent:

The hair is saturated with a solution containing a chemical that breaks the bonds that give each strand its shape; it is then rinsed, blow-dried, and meticulously flatironed. Once a neutralizer is applied, the hair is locked into this new, straight configuration.

Thermal straightening or thermal reconditioning is gaining popularity and I want to give you all the deets on what they are and what they do.

This is a long process taking several hours to complete and can be very pricey.

The process can take up to eight hours the first time (depending on length and thickness); touch-ups require three to four hours. For three days after the treatment, you can’t get your hair wet or do anything kink inducing (like wear a ponytail), and while your hair will now be sleek and shiny (even after air-drying), you’re left with one styling option: bone-straight. Even curling irons or hot rollers won’t restore volume or wave. Cost: $500 to $1,500.

Are you still natural after this process and does this damage your hair? 

Well, that depends on who you are asking. The process requires a chemical solution to straighten the hair permanently, so to many  that is no different from a traditional relaxer or perm, many of us grew up on.   Your natural curl pattern will never return and you will only see it during new growth just like a traditional relaxer.  Over time, this can weaken and/or damage your hair.  Damaging chemicals are used in this process.

Here is a video on some before and after pics along with the process step by step.  For many on this site, this will not be a viable option but I wanted to share the info regardless so you know exactly what it is.


2nd Technique (Thermal Relaxing) Thermal Straightening

Thermal Relaxing or another version of thermal straightening is a process that merges the effectiveness of a pressing a comb and a flat iron together. While the title is misleading, there is not real chemical processing going on. The tools do all the work. This process gives the straightness and shine of a press and a flat iron. Also, it looks like you relaxed your hair with no chemicals involved and the tool used is the Feather Flat which was invented by a black man named Milstan Nash. It is the thinnest flat iron available.

According to those who have done this, yes it works. Makes your hair slayed for the Gods. It doesn’t matter if your hair is coarse or thin it gives it a nice polished looked. It’s a very quick and easy technique to do, especially if you have multiple textures. In addition, it won’t leave your hair humid. The heat is contained within the iron and that when it’s pressed close to your scalp, you don’t feel the heat unlike a regular flat iron.

 Here is a video discussing the the iron used, the entire process and tips to use along the way. They do suggest going to a professional to get this done properly.

Does this damage your hair? 

Yes it does.  It does what many call heat training since it lasts much longer than a regular flat ironing session. That is just glorified heat damage as the application of water, humidity or sweat should revert the hair. The stylists who create this style claim it can withstand even 2 or 3 sessions of working out without reverting, which to me is alarming. Also, if you continuously apply the heat to your hair you can create heat damage and we should not be using heat too often because of that reason.

4 Curly Girl Friendly Silicone-Free Heat Protectants

To be clear, I am not endorsing or promoting either of these techniques on straightening hair. I don’t even use heat on my own hair but I do know information is power and feel knowing as much about hair styling techniques will always be a benefit for black women.  I just want you to be fully informed and if you do choose to try either of these straightening techniques, to to a professional and make sure this is what you want.

I hope this gives you all the deets you need on permanently straightening your natural hair.



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