Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could transform your frizzy hair into permanent silky-smooth straightness? It sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t! Once you know the causes of frizz, you can quickly identify your hair type and find the best smoothing solution for you.
Paul Edmonds recently hosted a PE Live event where he shared steps you can take to iron the kinks out of frizzy hair and leave it perfectly smooth. Don’t worry if you missed it — here are all his most coveted silky hair secrets, complete with the treatments and products you’ll need to achieve your desired look.
What causes frizzy hair?
Before we can untangle the causes of frizz, we need to understand more about smooth hair structure.
When we look at a hair strand up close, it almost resembles a snake. It’s tubular and either spherical or oval. The outer layer is made of keratin cells that lay flat on top like a snake’s skin. Genetics determine the size, shape, and interior colour of the tube and the keratin cells.
Frizzy hair occurs when the shape of the tube, the colour in the cortex, and the keratin cells’ positioning change over time. This change happens for the following reasons:
- Changes in human growth and hair cycle hormones
- External factors (pollution, sun, heat styling etc.)
- Colouring and processing solutions
In aggressively unruly hair, the tube is multi-dimensional, twisted, and uneven. In some cases, the keratin cells don’t lie flat. In other cases, they aren’t uniform - some lay flat, and others stand up. Lifted keratin cells expose the inner layers to external factors, which cause the hair to lose moisture, colour, and more keratin cells.
Now we know what causes frizzy hair, how do we tame it?
Choosing your hair straightening treatment
There are several treatments and products that help control frizzy hair, so you’ll need all the facts before choosing. Whether you want to transform your tresses from curly to straight or just want a smoother finish, you’ll find your solution here!
Permanent straightening treatments
Before we can launch into your permanent hair straightening options, we need to explain how the overall process works.
Permanent hair straightening fundamentally changes your hair’s disulphide bonds - the internal scaffolding that keeps your hair in its natural shape. Unlike semi-permanent treatments, which coat or add bonds to hair, permanent hair straightening treatments break down your existing bonds. They are reshaped then locked in place through a process known as ‘neutralising’. No amount of shampooing or treatments will change the hair’s shape after it’s been permanently straightened. Only growth at the root will give away your natural texture! Your roots will need to be continually re-treated if you want to maintain that straight silkiness.
If you’d like to go from curly to straight hair permanently, you have three main options to consider.
Extenso: fight frizz but keep your waves
The Extenso treatment is excellent for large curls and unruly hair textures because it’s a gentler option. Rather than radically breaking down the disulphide bonds in your hair, it will partially detach them. Your stylist can then reset the shape and lock it by reattaching the partially removed bonds. It’s excellent for fighting frizz while maintaining your waves.
Word of warning: Extenso works on the internal bonds of your hair, so you run the risk of breakage if you’ve already had a chemical service (like bleach or pre-lighteners). Always tell your stylist what processes you’ve had so they can test whether your hair can take the straightening formulation.
Don’t forget that the lengths will be years old if you have long hair. You may have to explain that the ends have colour from years ago.
Sodium hydroxide relaxer: for coarse or afro hair
Sodium hydroxide relaxers (or ‘lye relaxers’) are ideal for completely straightening the hair and are commonly offered as an afro hair service. Like Extenso, it completely detaches the bonds in the hair structure.
Your stylist will begin by basting your hair with oil to protect the scalp. Then they’ll quickly apply the relaxer and work the hair curl into a straight shape as it begins to detach the bonds in the hair. Once your stylist is happy that the hair is fully relaxed (straight), they’ll neutralise the sodium hydroxide to reattach the bonds into the new hair shape.
Calcium Hydroxide relaxer: for sensitive scalps
Calcium hydroxide (non-lye relaxer) works in a similar way to sodium hydroxide, but it’s a lot less aggressive. This makes it a great choice for people with scalp sensitivity or those who react to the sodium hydroxide formulation.
A relaxer formulation will have to be applied very close to the scalp, so the non-lye alternative can help alleviate any sensitivity. Unfortunately, it can also leave the hair feeling very dry, so you may want to treat yourself to plenty of hydrating, lipid-rich shampoos, and conditioners as aftercare.
Semi-permanent hair straightening treatments
Semi-permanent treatments straighten the hair without changing its structure. As the name suggests, these treatments will wear off over time, and the hair will slowly revert to its original unruly self.
Depending on the formulation used, semi-permanent hair straightening treatments won’t drastically degrade your hair’s health. It’s more like a conditioning treatment with the added benefit of lasting smoothness.
Keratin treatments are semi-permanent alternatives to hair straightening and are commonly associated with the ‘Brazilian blow-dry’. The keratin cells attach to your hair, coating the outer layer and sealing it, so hair is stronger and less porous.
Some treatments used to contain formaldehyde or aldehydes, but these ingredients were linked to allergic reactions, and so you won’t find them in most modern treatments. It’s still worth noting that you can have too much of a good thing - too much protein can cause your hair to harden, making it more prone to breakage.
To maintain the super silky results of a Paul Edmonds keratin treatment, we recommend using sulphate-free products to avoid accidentally stripping the keratin cells from your hair follicles. With the correct aftercare, a keratin treatment will last an average of 8 to 12 weeks.
Signature Smooth Treatment
This hair straightening treatment uses different technology than a traditional keratin treatment. The main ingredient in Signature Smooth is amino acids - smaller particles of proteins derived from natural ingredients.
The Paul Edmonds Signature Smooth Treatment works by adding tiny particles of amino acids into the hair, filling in the gaps and holes that cause frizz. Heat is applied, which expands these amino acid particles like popcorn. This expansion creates a structure and behaves like the hairs’ own bonds, leaving it smoother, stronger, and shinier. It’s so effective that it’s overtaken keratin as the preferred hair smoothing treatment by our stylists and technicians at our Paul Edmonds salons.
Unlike the keratin treatments (where too much protein can cause the hair to harden and, in extreme cases, break), the hair only takes the amino acids it needs. The surplus product is washed away at the end of the treatment.
The Signature Smooth Treatment can be tailored by amino acid size, so you can get a bespoke treatment to suit the needs of your hair type. You can also tailor how much texture the treatment removes; leave it in longer for a very smooth finish or request a shorter application time to preserve more of the natural wave pattern.
The treatment can last up to 12 to 24 weeks on some hair types. Because it doesn’t coat the hair, it doesn’t need a sulphate-free shampoo and conditioner. This means you’re free to use shampoos that are specific to your hair.
By having the Signature Smooth treatment, you’ve reinstated the bonds in your hair, so they’re in better condition to take on colour. If you’re thinking about a balayage or oxidative process, we recommend leaving a two-week gap after having the treatment.
Products for smoothing hair at home
Whether you want to maintain the results of a recent treatment or need a smoothing option to add to your home haircare routine, these all-star products will help you fight that frizz!
Kérastase Discipline: a full anti-frizz routine
Kérastase Discipline is an anti-frizz range specially formulated to tame frizzy hair. It’s rich in lipids and contains keratin formulations that coat the hair to defrizz it the same way a semi-permanent treatment would.
Shu Uemura Shusu Sleek: super straight finish
If you love a super straight, ultra-sleek finish, the Shu Uemura Shusu Sleek range is your perfect match. It contains black cumin oil - a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces hair bulk and volume while adding weight and strength. Wave bye-bye to poofy hair!
Shu Uemura Tsuyu sleek: the quick slick
For a quick, slicked-back look, try Shu Uemura Tsuyu Sleek (£25.00). Black cumin oil pushes water molecules out of hair to speed up the blow-dry time and give a straighter finish. It’s perfect if you blow-dry your hair regularly but find your coarse hair slows down your styling time.
Answering your anti-frizz questions
Do semi-permanent treatments cause any kind of irritation?
The Signature Smooth Treatment has a citric acid-based formulation that helps transfer the tiny amino acid particles into the hair. There can be irritation for some of our more sensitive clients, especially when the application touches the scalp. You can expect a few days of mild flaking, which will settle after a week. Some of our clients tell us the benefits of the treatment outweigh the temporary flaking.
Will semi-permanent treatments work if I have a blend of frizzy hair and straight hair?
Yes. In fact, the Signature Smooth Treatment is ideal for a mixed texture hair type. Your hair will only take on the amino acids it needs, so your frizzy hairs will become smoother, resulting in an even hair texture and a sleeker finish.
How long does a Signature Smooth straightening treatment take and how much does it cost?
It depends on how much of a smoothing effect you want, how long and thick (dense) your hair is, and how porous your hair is. We can tailor a treatment to your hairline or your entire head and hair lengths.
Because it’s a natural formula, the process and application are complex - it can take up to five hours in the salon for long/thick frizzy hair. Pricing starts at £150 for hairlines, £250 for very short hair up to £550 for very long and thick hair.
Can I colour my hair with Extensor or relaxer services?
You can have colour services like vegetable or staining applications, which are ideal for correcting tonal changes or covering greys. We can do them on the same day as your straightening treatment. Your stylist will advise you on the colour options available.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to bleach or pre-lighten hair with straightening treatments. We also don’t recommend colour services that require a developer/oxidant.
What will happen to my curl pattern long term?
If you opt for a treatment like Signature Smooth, your curl pattern won’t be affected. The amino acids in the treatment will eventually drop out, and your hair will revert to its original state.
Can I have my hair cut on the same day as a semi-permanent straightening treatment?
Yes, you can. First, we’ll rough cut your hair to make sure we don’t waste the product or keep you sitting in the chair longer than needed. After the application is complete, we finesse your cut and finish with a blow-dry.
What aftercare should I use?
You can use any prescribed shampoo or conditioner that has been matched to your specific hair concerns. We’d recommend indulging in a home masque treatment once or twice a week to replenish lost moisture. If you use heat styling products, we advise using a heat protecting product, too.
With a permanent straightening treatment, you should aim to add plenty of moisture and lipids back into your hair. The Shu Uemura Urban Moisture Collection is rich in moringa oil and helps remove impurities to keep your hair hydrated without adding weight.
Products containing fatty acids are a must. Shu Uemura Essence Absolue (£35.00) has a combination of seven different oils, each a different molecule size. This makes it act like chains around the hair fibre, encouraging flexibility and smoothness. Shu Uemura Essence Absolue Overnight Serum (£29.00) will add shine and 24-hour protection.
Are you ready to treat yourself to silky straight hair? Book a hair treatment at Paul Edmonds London and let our expert team tame that mane, so every day is a smooth hair day. You can find all your must-have anti-frizz home care products in our online shop or our salons. We look forward to helping you keep your hair on the straight and narrow!