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Smoothing Treatments vs. Straightening Treatments

Smoothing Treatments vs. Straightening Treatments

Looking For Flawlessly Straight Hair?

Shiny, healthy, elegant straight hair is an eye-catching attribute that is easy to obtain with the right treatments. Maybe you got a taste of the amazing feeling perfectly straight hair can give you after your stylist used a temporary smoothing cream. Now, you’re addicted to this gorgeous sleek look. There are a few ways to maintain and achieve straight hair, either temporarily or permanently. Many may resort to straightening iron daily to smooth their locks but soon see heat damage from regular use. Instead, more permanent smoothing or straightening treatments will help you get those silky straight locks long-term.

What’s The Difference? 


There are many key differences between hair straightening and hair smoothing. Hair straightening came first and is the process of permanently altering hair structure by breaking molecular bonds, ‘re-shaping’ the hair, then reconnecting the bonds to hold the hair in its new shape. The process is the reverse of a permanent wave. It can be used on all hair types as a long-lasting treatment that will only need to be repeated every 8-12 weeks once the hair starts to grow out again. However, please note that hair straightening can be incompatible with bleached, highlighted, or overly-porous hair and can cause additional damage. 

A chemical relaxant is applied to the hair to straighten it permanently. The process starts by opening the cuticle, soaking into the inner strand, and restructuring the bonds within to mold the hair shape. Various chemicals can include thioglycolate acid, sodium hydroxide, and calcium hydroxide. After your hair shafts are restructured, this is sealed in with a neutralizer which locks the hair in its new shape. The hair will typically retain this shape until it grows out or is cut off. 

Here are the benefits of choosing to straighten over smoothing:

  1. Effective for all hair types
  2. Incredibly long-lasting, permanent structural change
  3. Reduces unwanted volume

The negatives?

  1. Aggressive, potentially damaging chemicals
  2. Increases porosity in the hair
  3. Chemically straightened hair may have difficulty maintaining hair color
  4. Leaves a distinct line of demarcation between the straightened hair and any new growth


Smoothing, frequently confused with straightening, is a non-damaging treatment that is ideal for all hair types. This option is safe for bleached, highlighted, and porous hair. True smoothing treatments can provide straight hair depending on the beginning hair texture and the formula used, but these special treatments do NOT break any molecular bonds. This means the treatment formulas themselves will rarely cause any physical damage to any hair type; the only thing that can truly damage the hair is a misuse of the flat iron at temperatures up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Smoothing treatments typically use specific active ingredients that can form new, secondary bond structures in the hair that are locked in place during the blowout and ironing process. These temporary bond structures cross-link with existing proteins and amino acids in the hair, preventing curly hair from ‘springing back’ to its natural shape. The less curly the hair is, to begin with, the greater degree of straightening is achieved. This temporary bond structure breaks down over time, allowing the hair to return to its natural condition. 

Smoothing treatments are not permanent structural changes and will not last as long as hair straightening. They also don’t truly straighten hair as much as they reduce curl, significantly in some cases. Regardless of the amount of curl they reduce, however, any remaining curl or wave in the hair will straighten effortlessly in very little time. This is an appealing option for curly/wavy clients who don’t necessarily want to lose all their curls but would appreciate volume reduction, protection from humidity, etc., without creating any new damage to their strands. This also allows clients to wear a variety of looks depending on the mood, event, or need!

One of the most popular types of hair smoothing treatments frequently uses ‘Brazilian’ and ‘keratin’ in the name. This is because these treatments originated in Brazil and help replenish keratin in hair that is keratin deficient (which is mostly everyone)!  These specific formulas are typically the strongest and longest lasting.  

Smoothing does have many benefits (which can last from days to months based on the product or treatment used), including: 

  1. eliminates frizz for days, weeks, or months
  2. gives you healthier strands
  3. safe for bleached hair
  4. longer-lasting color
  5. stronger, healthier, smooth hair
  6. immunity to humidity
  7. 50% faster blow-dry
  8. easier to manage hair
  9. reduces volume

Types of Professional Smoothing Services

(all USA service costs are based on length and density of hair in addition to the formula used)

Full Keratin Smoothing Treatment

This treatment offers maximum curl reduction and smoothing without breaking molecular bonds. In addition, it lasts for the longest amount of time, up to 12 to 16 weeks of curl reduction and smoothing benefits. The average cost for the service starts between $200-$300.

Express Keratin Smoothing Treatment

The express keratin smoothing treatment is the fastest, clocking in at under an hour. Express treatments typically take less than an hour to do- nice and quick! As a result, you’ll get the most curl for the shortest amount of treatment time. Depending on the formulas used, this type of service provides anywhere from 0% to 60% average curl reduction plus smoothing benefits up to 4-6 weeks. The average cost for this Professional service starts between $75-$125. 

Color Lock Keratin Smoothing Treatment

This smoothing option is the best for locking in color. It also massively increases shine, vibrancy, and longevity. The treatment takes an average of 30 minutes extra immediately after your hair color service. This formula reduces zero curls but provides smoothing benefits for up to 4-6 weeks, making it ideal for all textures that want all the benefits of smoothing without the curl reduction. The average cost for this Professional service is between $25-$35 on top of the cost of the hair color.

Keratin Smoothing Treatment Add-on

This add-on treatment can be combined with a haircut or used after relaxers, balayage, or any other chemical service. Like the Color Lock service, the treatment takes an extra 30 minutes after any chemical service. This formula reduces zero curls but provides smoothing benefits for up to 4-6 weeks. The average cost is between $25-$35 on top of the cut or service.

Keratin Smoothing Blowout

This is the most temporary smoothing solution and will provide smoothing benefits for several days between shampoos. This makes it an ideal blowout in humid climates and gives unparalleled protection to humidity for days. This is offered at many high-end salons but can also be done in the comfort of your home if you have the right products! The cost for this blowout is typically $5-$10 more than a regular blowout. Still, you can also purchase products specifically for this purpose for less than $30, like Daily Smoothing Cream from Keratherapy!

Keratherapy Smoothing Solutions

Keratherapy offers a complete lineup of keratin-based smoothing treatments available in finer salons worldwide.  In order of most to least strength, the treatments include: 

  1. Brazilian Renewal
  2. Extreme Renewal
  3. Extreme Renewal Creme de Cocoa
  4. Pure Renewal PLUS
  5. Express Renewal PLUS
  6. Color Lock and Smooth
  7. Daily Smoothing Cream (available for retail) 

Pure Renewal PLUS, Express Renewal PlUS, and Daily Smoothing Cream are all 100% formaldehyde-free. 

The Line-Up of Keratherapy Keratin-Based Smoothing Home Care Products

In addition to these previously mentioned salon treatments, Keratherapy offers a lineup of keratin-based smoothing home care products. These include the Moisture Collection, Volume Collection, Color Protect Collection, Repair Collection, Totally Blonde Collection, Style/Finish Collection, Perfect Match Gray Root Concealer Collection, and Perfect Match Fiber Thickener Collection. These hair care products are dedicated to the benefits of smoothing and keratin replenishment. 

If you are a salon professional and are interested in professional pricing, please contact your local Distributor. To find a Keratherapy Distributor near you, email us at!

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