Sunday, March 23, 2003

Thermal hair straightening trend still warm

Catching up

By Joy Kraft
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] Lauren Hudson has her hair straightened at Tanya's Image Salon in Hyde Park.
(Enquirer file photo)
| ZOOM |
Thermal reconditioning, the hair straightening process that magically (if ever-so-slowly) transforms kinks and curls to permanently silky, poker-straight locks, was last summer's salon darling, adopted by the Hollywood set and those willing to pay the price for the perfect pool hair.

Has the time-consuming process that can cost $100 an hour run its course? Apparently not.

"After Christmas it may have tapered off a bit," says Phyllis Rinaldi of Phyllis at the Madison, Hyde Park, which started offering the service last summer.

"But now they are coming back for touch-ups."

"We do two or three a week now, with lots of retouches coming in," says Tanya Tieman of Tanya's Image and Wellness Salon, also in Hyde Park, which just passed the one-year mark for the procedure.

Both women expect more requests as spring arrives with its rains and promises of summer's wilting humidity.

"I think we're going to see a lot of partials (straightening certain sections of hair). I know a lot of New York stylists who are doing that," says Rinaldi, adding that some clients found the process produced hair that was too straight.

"They like a little bit of body on top or around the face as softening," she says. "I think partials are going to be the big thing in the long run."

During the process, a creamy chemical relaxer is applied, left to set, then rinsed. After partially drying, hair is parted into small sections, then pressed flat, inches at a time, with special flatirons. Hair that is color-treated takes special care.

But unlike old hair-straightening techniques, this one makes the hair silkier and softer because the cuticle is flattened and closed, instead of split.

We followed mom-to-be Lauren Hudson of Indian Hill through the six-hour procedure in June in her quest for a "put together look even when I'm not," she said.

She pronounced herself "chic and elegant" when Tieman finished snipping and straightening.

Nine months later, we checked in to find her with a new baby - "a girl with curly hair" - and still a fan of the lanky look.

"It's been great. I always looked like I was ready to go out, even if the rest of me wasn't put together" during last summer's heat, she says.

"It has stayed perfectly straight. I haven't had to go back. Everyone asks how many times I've had it done. I've talked to others who have had to go back every three months" to treat the re-growth.

"Maybe I'll have straight hair forever."

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