Dear Silkening/Smoothing Treatments, You Can Kiss My Kinks |

Dear Silkening/Smoothing Treatments, You Can Kiss My Kinks

Warning: This post has been brewing in my mind for over a year, and the opinion may not be popular. As always, it is not my goal to tear anyone individual or brand down, but to edify and uplift others with kinky hair and revive appreciation for and admiration of kinky-textured hair.

The Inspiration

This post was inspired by two things: a recent article on Madame Noire about a natural experiencing severe hair loss after about a year of keratin treatments, and one of my Customized Hair Regimen clients’ complaint about extreme breakage and dryness from a professional strengthening treatment. So if you’re in a similar boat, or were considering undergoing one of these treatments, I encourage you to read this article, and share with your friends (and even your enemies… you don’t want them bald, the fight won’t be fair lol).

The Backstory

Since going natural, I’ve been warily suspicious of hair treatments that promise to give you “smoother”, “silkier”, “more manageable” hair. Even before I cut my hair, I was researching natural hair salons and came across the Miss Jessie’s bandwagon. I noticed that they had a Silkener treatment, which effectively loosened your curl pattern to make it “more manageable”… I guess, silky. Aside from the over two hundred dollar price tag, I promptly crossed off Miss Jessie’s from my big chop salon options because it didn’t seem like they truly catered to what I knew would be my beloved kinky strands.

In the past three years, more and more salons, and even “natural hair friendly” product lines, have invented and promoted these kinds of treatments. Now I won’t go into what could be a long tirade on the natural hair world’s extreme “curl promotion” in general, which can make us kinky haired queens feel that our hair type is inferior and undesirable–or another tirade about the commercialization of natural hair by companies that actually don’t care about hair health–but the language, goals, and assumptions of these treatments definitely makes me feel some type of way.

Dear Silkening/Smoothing Treatments, You Can Kiss My Kinks |
Angela Davis at press conference back in the day

Let me set the record straight real quick before I move on to other business: my COARSE, KINKY, (semi) DENSE hair has been silky, smooth, and strong–all without any chemical treatments. When I got my hair straightened at Carol’s Daughter Mirror Mirror Salon, my hair was so gosh darn silky it fluttered and twirled in the wind. Even when my hair is in it’s kinky state, my hair is quite often soft, shiny, and manageable. These seemingly desirable attributes ARE possible on kinky hair without chemical treatments, it’s all in the way YOU care for your hair and how you feed, nourish, and treat it. Don’t ever, not even for a hot second, let somebody tell you that your kinky hair is unmanageable. That is a (rude and disrespectful) lie from the pit of hell, and I hope that I, along with other kinky textured naturals who are committed to changing the stereotype against our hair, are debunking that lie one fro at a time. Who decided what unmanageable hair even meant in the first place?? Probably the same people who made up curl typing. My kinky hair stays in place, now that’s manageable. Straight hair flies every which way, to me that’s difficult to manage.  Anyhew…

Now aside from the curl vs. kink hierarchy/dichotomy/preference these treatments promote and the lies they spew, part of me–without doing any formal research–had a hunch that no kind of natural substance could magically change my hair strands. I mean, it would’ve been discovered by now. To add insult to injury, a year ago (or more, I’ve lost track), a natural hair blogger who I admired underwent one of these procedures and came out with hair swanging… but after washing her hair, it was obviously a looser kink. I didn’t hit the unsubscribe button because her hair got looser, I hit the button because she acted as if nothing happened… for months! That same day I decided that as a natural hair blogger, I would share the TRUTH and nothing but the truth–so whether my hairstyle looked whack or was bomb, if a product was awesome or if it sucked–I would say so, because I honestly felt violated by the lack of honesty over this hair process. Luckily, there have been more reviews coming out about these treatments, and while most/some (I actually haven’t read that many because I don’t care) are positive, there are enough wary tales to cast a huge shadow of a doubt.

The Main Culprits

So how do I know if a treatment can potentially alter my hair texture (assuming I don’t want that to happen)?

I’d stay clear of anything that involves the following: repeat treatments (every 6-12 weeks), keeping your hair dry for a certain amount of time, sodium hydroxide, formaldehyde, anything that explicitly says it doesn’t have formaldehyde (if they are comparing themselves to formaldehyde treatments, they’re probably in the same camp), promises of curl elongation, silkening, loosening, etc. Here are a few I know of:

Miss Jessie’s Silkener Treatment
Design Essentials Strengthening Therapy System
Huetiful Nanosmoothing Treatment
Essations Naked Thermal Smoothing System
Arosci Intensive Restructuring System
Parting Thoughts

With any service or treatment you get, you’ve GOT to read the fine print. And most times this isn’t on the bottle, and won’t come out of the mouth of your hair stylist if she or he is more concerned about their income than the health of your hair. It’s also a good idea not to jump onto the latest bandwagon in the natural hair world until you’ve read or heard sufficient reviews.

I’m not anti using chemicals in your hair; after all, my hair is chemically colored, and has been in some form since my big chop. My beef (or as Nigerians would say, my vex) is that these treatments purposely and specifically set out to loosen one’s hair texture. Now by all means, if that’s what you’ve decided to do to your hair, feel free, but don’t say I didn’t tell ya so. And don’t come over here pretending your texture isn’t looser. But if your hair does start to break, be brittle, or fall right out, be rest assured I’ll always be here to get you back on the right track my TEACHING proper hair care, rather than trying to perform “magic” tricks.

As a great man once said:

Don’t remove the kinks from your hair, remove them from your mind.Marcus Garvey

What’s your take on smoothing/silkening treatments for kinky hair? Have you ever had one of these done? Did I miss any that we should know about?

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  1. So glad I read these comments! I visited the heutiful Chicago salon for the first time for a wash and braid out. I was seriously considering the nano treatment and was on my way to book the pricey service when I stumbled across this article. I’ve been wearing my hair natural for about a year and a half and I’ve been researching products that work well with 4b/c type hair. I love my hair but I have to admit that wash day is rough. My arms are usually sore by the end of the weekly process. Hence the heutiful stylist telling me that the nano treatment would make my hair more “manageable.” I’ve read lots of reviews from ppl who have had the service and are in favor of it. So I’m glad to come here and see the other side of the experience. I’ve decided not to have the service at this point. My hair is in a healthy state, it’s just very tightly coiled. I suppose I will just continue to alter my regime in addition to product trial and error. Thanks for your honest feedback ladies! You may have just saved me!

  2. Hi. I am so glad I found this post (although I wished I had found it earlier) because I honestly thought it was just me. I am a year + out from the Nano Smoothing Treatment from Heutiful in Chicago and I am barely turning down the road of full recovery.

    I received the nano treatment in October 2014 on my perfectly healthy hair–3 years natural . I decided to get the treatment for my birthday because the salon promised “more shine” for my kinky texture. So I bought it and cashed in. I initially thought the treatment didn’t do a thing but when I got my hair straightened on my next appointment, the signs of damage were almost instant.

    My hair felt unfamiliar to me when I washed it and styled it. The kinky texture I learned to love was now gone and replaced with this dry, brittle ,easily-tangled mess of a crown. As I researched what could possibly be happening to my hair I discovered that this was not heat damage but something far worse–chemical damage.

    I started noticing holes in my strands, multiple fair knots and double split ends EVERYDAY. My brushes filled up with long strands and my “wash days” were more like “loss days” as the signs of damage were clearly evident all over the bathroom. Products that my hair once absorbed were now sitting on top of my strands and leaving a film. My tight kinky texture was now stretched and life-less. My flawless twist outs were now frizzy messes and my once thick dense hair was now starting to thin out.

    2 weeks before, at the appointment when I got my hair straight , the stylist/salon manager told me my hair was dense and extremely healthy. 2 weeks later when I came running into the salon with my noticeable damaged hair, the stylist told me I needed to “get blood work done” because she was “unaware”/”had no clue” as to what the salon could have done to my hair that would have resulted in such rapid damage.

    After going back and fourth over several weeks on who was responsible, the stylist came at me with this solution : “we will have to cut your hair two inches short “. At this time my hair was a an inch or 2 past my collar bone and I wasn’t having it. I went in for a “deva cut” as a compromise cutting 2-4 inches off my hair into a shaped “fro-bob”. The stylist eventually agreed to 12 free appointments, one each month. In return, I will also come in once a month and pay for a service. This would result in me going into the salon twice a month. I was a once a month client and thought this will help me get my hair back on track faster. I stop going after 3-4 visits because I was accused of using heat on my hair everytime I sat down for an appointment and the stylist’s mood was noticeably taking a negative turn.

    This salon told me this wasn’t a protein treatment and the system can “be applied by a child with no damage to the hair because this is a natural treatment and it’s Fool Proof”. This was after I told them protein treatments have ruined my hair in the past.
    I was going to this salon for over a year before I got this treatment and trusted their opinion.

    Shame on me for not doing my research first. Hope this helps someone else. Avoid them at all cost.

  3. I got the nano smoothing treatment about 10 wks ago. At first, it was great, then after about 5 was I noticed breakage in my comb and on flat iron (long hair strand breakage) even when I used minimal heat, as I had very fine hair iscontbefore the treatment was applied. I wash my hair once every week & condition very well, so I figured by month 3 the treatment would have worn out, but it hasn’t. I want my back to its natural. Do I have to chop this out, or let it wear out. I have purchased all of the nano products. I think I will discontinue using all their products. In addition, I think using hair oil makes the process hair break faster…please advise

    1. Hi Sharon, the same thing happened to me. I am a 1 year and some months out from the nano treatment from Huetiful.

      What I can share with you is that for me, it was/is a waiting game and also involved major cutting. What I found is the hair that was touched by the treatment is not repairable. The brittle dry hair was not going away no matter how much I conditioned it.

      5 months post treatment, I decided to wear a protective style (crochet twist) since my natural styles were not working out for me with the damage.

      Although my hair hasn’t yet to fully recover , I do see it is on the come back. In fear of a big chop, I am doing this slowly.

      Monthly trims and conditioning (for the new growth) has helped me. Hope this helps.

  4. I was thinking about nano smoothing treatment but thank God I researched first. I have been natural for 4 years and I mostly wear my hair curly. I’ve blown it out twice, but only wore it for 2 to 3 weeks. I recently got it cut in a bob style and I’m loving it. I will continue to take care of my hair and not fall into the b.s.. We have to learn how to care for our own hair and stop trying to wear “other” races hair. Embrace your hair ladies.

  5. I’ve had Design Essentials Strenghening Therapy and silkening treatment when I transitioned to natural, no breakage or dryness. My hair has been natural for two years.

  6. Well I haven’t had a perm in 7 years but I also didn’t wear my real hair. I wore weaves. Now that I am natural since December 20, 2014, I am really feeling my way through this entire thing. I have not had my hair straightened since December 20th and I’ve had it blow dried once to get some braids. I was considering the nano smoothing system and after reading the reviews, I will pass.

    1. I encourage you to get familiar with your hair as is, without any chemical alterations. It might take some getting used to but it’s worth it when the alternative is damaged hair!

  7. Same exact story as Marcia… and i too am hanging my head in shame smh. Never again! I had the nano smoothing treatment in august 2014. My hair hasnt been right since then. I feel as if it changed my lo-po hair to highly porous. It dries out extremely fast even right out of she shower. I have to wear shower cap on the quarter/sections that im not currently styling just to keep it from drying out. I was hoping this crap would wear off after the 12 week period. But nope. Its been 5 months…i deep condition biweekly with heat, use aloe gel mixed into my leavein to help with ph, protective style…still seeing long hairs. Oan: i love ur page 🙂

  8. Very informative! Thank you! I recently wrote a post on my experience using the Straightening Therapy System treatment. I regret getting this treatment and I’m hoping my hair reverts quickly.

  9. Ok…im late to this thread but here goes. i had the Huetiful NanoSmoothing. Loved it. At first. Hair was on point. 1 week into wearing it straight i started noticing long strands on my tshirts. O_O. Wore it straight for about 2 weeks. I washed it deep conditioned and my curls came back with no problems. They were a little looser around the edges where I normally have a looser curl pattern but nothing drastic. Problem was i was seeing ALOT of long strands…broken not shedded (with white bulbs) when I was detangling. Now, I am used to seeing some hairs. But not many. After the nanosmoothing treatment I increasingly saw more and more hairs in my brush on wash day. im bowing my head in shame and vowing never to put chemicals in my hair again…but i need advice. I have very dense corse strands. Low porosity. I THINK i may even be protein sensitive…

    1. I just want to give you a hug! I’m so sad you experienced more breakage from one of these treatments… it’s a shame proper and accurate information wasn’t put out about them before everyone started getting them – but I’m glad you shared your experience. I’d advice to up your moisture like you’ve never done before. And while you might think that protein is going to make the damage worse, you don’t want to go too far on the protein-moisture balance equilibrium so try to do a light protein (DIY with eggs, honey, and oil) every six or so weeks, then alternate with a heavier protein treatment. Hope this helps!

  10. I have really kinky hair I’ve been natural since 2008. Last year August, I did a protein treatment called ProDesign at a natural hair salon, followed by a silkening treatment every month for two months. I asked them if my hair would go back kinky/curly and they said that my curls would be a little looser but nothing drastic. I was okay with my curls being a little looser. After the second silkening treatment I notice my curls becoming looser and looser almost STRAIGHT! I was so scared I stopped the treatments. I have been trying to grow out the damage parts since November 2013. I would not recommend any silkening or protein treatments.

  11. This is perfect. I am happy that more women are taking steps to embrace their kinks by becoming natural, but we still have some way to go in fully embracing the way our hair NATURALLY is.
    What does manageable hair even mean? I have a feeling that many of us feel that it is synonymous with brush-able, flowing, unintertwined hair, which is exactly what our hair is not.
    Brushes were not made for afro hair. They were made for European (straight, wavy, curly) hair. This notion that our hair should/needs to be managed in the way other hair types are managed is a BS, socially constructed view that must be dispelled from our minds.
    We are perfect just the way we are. We cannot expect others to validate that truth, because it will not happen.
    When we stop bashing each other for having “nappy”, “raggedy”, “bad”, “unmanageable”, “untamed”, and “wild”, hair, we will have taken a step forward to fully embracing our natural hair as a race. It all begins with us.