The saying, “The grass is greener on the other side,” certainly applies to hair – specifically, women’s hair. Most women with naturally curly hair say they would like their hair to be straight and smooth; women with straight hair would give anything to have a head of curls. What women with either hair type really want is hair with no frizz. Frizzy hair is a fact of life for curly or straight hair – one day of high humidity and the naturally curly woman resembles a French Poodle with its paw in a light socket. The woman with straight hair suddenly looks like the Madwoman of Chaillot, with her hair flying every which way but down. The real enemy is the frizz.

There are ways to straighten your hair and keep the frizzes at bay. The question is, what are they and should you use them?

Thermal Reconditioning

Also known as Japanese straightening, this therapy requires the use of chemical straighteners, to break the bonds in your hair. Once completed, you have to maintain the process with touch-up treatments, or endure the grow-out period, where your hair will be curly at the scalp but bone straight from the treated hair down. The chemical is applied to your hair until the hair is saturated; it is left on the hair for a period of time, to break the bonds. The hair is then rinsed out, blow-dried, and then flat-ironed. You can’t get your hair wet, or do anything that will cause kinking, for three days after the treatment. You will only have one style option as well – straight. This treatment works on bulky, loose to medium curls.

Chemical Relaxers

Chemical relaxers are used for tight curls. The relaxer is applied and left on the hair for a period of time, then neutralized.

Both of these methods involve the use of damaging chemicals, so if your hair is already damaged, don’t use them. They also permanently change the hair, so you must either continue the treatments, or grow out your hair from the roots.

Keratin Treatments

Keratin treatments keep your hair straight for two to four months. The chemicals involved in these treatments do not permanently change your hair; your natural texture will gradually return. These treatments involve the use of formaldehyde, and are not a good thing to try.

Gels, Curling Irons and Brushes

Most keratin treatments, regardless of brand, use formaldehyde in their solutions. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen, so think about your stylist even if you don’t care about yourself. Short-term effects of formaldehyde include respiratory distress, nosebleeds, and eye irritation. Long-term effects include nasal cancer and leukemia.

Given that the chemicals involved in straight, no-frizz hair are so harsh, what is the woman fighting the frizzies supposed to do? Use hair gel religiously, that’s what. There are a number of gels and mousses available to control frizz. It requires use of the product every time you wash your hair, and it may also require touch-ups on the days that you don’t. You can also use hair straightening brushes, and curling irons. A curling iron will straighten hair, as well as curl it.

Because chemical treatments for straightening hair are both harsh and toxic, it’s best to calm the frizz with the tried-and-true methods. These methods are time-consuming, but you won’t wind up with cancer from them, either. Find a gel or mousse that works with your hair and stick with it – you’ll have frizz-free hair, and you won’t expose anybody to a known carcinogen. It’s a win-win situation!