Love the straight-hair look but can't get it from your naturally wavy or curly hair? Check out these salon treatments that will help you get the sleek style you crave.
X-Tenso smoothing treatment
I have naturally thick, coarse, almost wavy hair that tends to frizz. Blowdrying it straight involved generous amounts of straightening styling products, a 40-minute struggle with a hot blow dryer and a big round brush, and a 10-minute stint with a hot flatiron. Then a press event at Salon Daniel in Toronto introduced me to X-Tenso, a permanent “smoothing” treatment from L'Oréal Professionnel that tames frizzy, curly or unruly hair.
"X-Tenso restructures the hair molecules to reduce frizz and volume, making hair softer and easier to style,” says Colin Ford, Technical and Education Manager for L'Oréal Professionnel. “Your hair will also retain its elasticity, so that if you start with curly hair, you'll have softer, smoother curls afterward if you choose to wear it curly. If you want to wear it straight, styling it will take less product, less time and the style will last longer."
I went to Salon Daniel for the treatment process, which took just under an hour. Colin Ford first applied a cream (which smelled only faintly like perm solution) to my hair and worked it in section by section. After a thorough rinsing, on went a neutralizer (which had a nice, fresh fragrance) for a few minutes before a final trip to the sinks. Daniel Fiorio took over for the blowdry and I could feel the difference in my hair immediately: the brush just glided right through it, no tugging and no tangles.
Now I can blowdry my hair in just 15 minutes, forget the flat-iron if I feel like it, and still have a smooth, shiny, straight 'do. Easy!
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“The X-Tenso results are permanent, but new hair growing in will be your hair's original texture,” says Ford. “Because X-Tenso doesn't actually straighten hair, the difference between your new growth and your treated hair when it's not styled will be nearly indiscernible. You'd likely only need to have the roots touched up a maximum of three to four times a year.”
To optimize the results at home, I've been using L'OrÃ©al Liss ExtrÃªme Moisturizing Shampoo (250 mL, $11.95), Liss ExtrÃªme Treatment Masque (150 mL, $14.95), and Liss ExtrÃªme Leave-In Moisturizing Creme (150 mL, $14.95), all salon-exclusive products designed to smooth frizzy hair. The X-Tenso service will vary a bit in cost depending on the salon and length of hair, but should cost about the same as a colour service.
X-Tenso is great if you want to minimize frizz and want the option of styling your hair curly or straight. If you're addicted to super-straight styles, then think about thermal straightening. You may already have heard of Japanese thermal straightening, a process that, unlike X-Tenso, will eliminate curls and waves. (Note: it's very difficult to curl hair that has been thermally straightened). The service can take up to 6 hours and results in seriously straight locks that may need just a super-quick blowdry to perfect on your own. But make sure you find the right solution for you. “Japanese thermal solutions are designed for coarse, Asian hair,” says Michael Barnett, a stylist at Style Lab Salon, Delineation Hair & Skin Essentials in Toronto. “For Caucasian hair, we use Rusk Thermal Str8, which is just as effective, but more gentle.”
Although the Rusk process takes as much time as the Japanese, the formula contains natural proteins such as Vitamin B5, soy proteins, wheat proteins and keratin amino acids to protect the hair. “Our clients are really happy with the results,” says Barnett. “More importantly, several months after having the process done they're still happy with the texture and look of their hair. With harsher types of thermal straightening, the hair looks fantastic just after it's done, but a few months later it starts to look dry, brittle and damaged.”
Rusk Thermal Str8 results will last six to eight months, after which you'll require root touch-ups. The cost is an investment, starting at $600 and increasing from there depending on hair length and texture. For more information on Rusk Thermal Str8 and salons that offer it, visit www.rusk1.com.
Photography by Daniel Fiorio.
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