4 Chemicals Used in Japanese Hair Straightening

Having a beautiful long straight hair might have been a dream for few women, especially those whose hair’s curly or wavy. Thanks to technology improvement, that dream can come true, even for those whose hair is super curly. You just have to go to the salon, spend some money and time there then come home with a brand new straight hair. That simple, everyone can have straight hair for few period of time without having to use flat straightener iron every single day.

Chemicals Used in Japanese Hair Straightening 

This trend immediately spreads out and being enjoyed by a lot of people. One of the product behind this popular perm hair straightening is Japanese Hair Straightener. In this article, we will talk about what are the chemicals used in this product, including their characteristic, other uses, and hazards.

  1. Ammonium Thioglycolate (C2H7NO2S )

Characteristic & Uses :

This colorless to faint-pink liquid has a strong skunk-like odor. It’s being used in hair straighteners products, cosmetic, toiletry, as well as fragrance. It is also known as perm salt, as it is used in perming hair.

This chemical works by reducing the disulfide cystine bonds in the cortex of the hair. It removes cross-links in the hair. When the washing procedure is done, usually, it’ll be treated with a mild solution of hydrogen peroxide. It will oxidized the cysteines back to cystine. These new chemical bonds give the structural rigidity to the hair.

Commonly, polysulfide linkages are used to crosslink the polymer chains. However, the amount of disulfide bonds that being reformed are not as much as before permanent straightening. This explains much why the hair is weaker after perming, especially after repeated applications, it might cause strand breakage. Well, that’s the basic of what goes on in the hair during Japanese hair straightening.

Glycolate are less volatile and have some solubility in water, which become advantages. This substituent make the thiol non-volatile and less odorous.

Hazards :                                                        

Ammonium thioglycolate is an irritant, toxic chemical that will give you several symptoms through exposure.

  • Skin & Eye : Skin and eye contact may cause sensitivity dermatitis of scalp or hands, edema, erythema, burning of skin, papular rash as well as itching.
  • Inhalation : Inhaling this chemical can lead to respiratory irritation, and allergic responses that will occur immediately, causing dyspnea and asthma. The other symptoms that might happen are like uncontrollable paroxysmal cough, pharyngeal irritation, and blocked nasal passages. This chemical is also a strong allergen.
  • Ingestion : It might cause hypoglycemia, central nervous system depression, as well as convulsions.
  • Fire Hazard : This chemical is combustible, as it is sensitive to heat. When heated or in contact with acids, it will emitted highly toxic fumes or sulfides.

You might also read : 13 FDA List of Approved Cosmetic Ingredients – Usage and Labeling 

  1. Stearyl alcohol (CH3(CH2)16CH2OH)

Characterisic & Uses :                                   

This organic compound is classified as a fatty alcohol. It’s in a white granules or flakes form, and insoluble in water. Stearyl alcohol has a faint odor, and can be found in variety of personal care products. Beside in a Japanese hair straightener, it is also used as an ingredient in perfumes, cosmetics, lubricant, as an emulsifier and thickener in ointments, as well as a hair coating in shampoo.

It is used in cosmetic  and personal care products because it helps to form emulsions and prevent an emulsion from separating into oil and liquid components. It also reduce the probability of finished products to create foam when shaken. This chemical acts as a lubricants on the skin.

Hazard :

This chemical is quite low in toxicity.

  • Skin & eye contact : It is just slightly hazardous ( irritant)
  • Inhalation : Slightly hazardous ( irritant )
  • Ingestion : slightly hazardous ( irritant)
  • Fire hazards : It might be combustible in high temperature. It is also slightly flammable to open flames, sparks, or heat.
  1. Pentasodium Pentetate (C14H18N3Na5O10)

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Characteristic & Uses :

This chemical is known as a chelating agents. It’s quite similar to EDTA, which is widely used in foods, etc. Pentasodium pentetate itself is mainly used in cosmetics and personal care products, such as hair dyes, bath products, and of course in few hair straightening products.

One of the basic reason why it’s used in cosmetics and personal care products is that this chemical contains inactive metallic ions, like calcium, magnesium in order to maintain stability of cosmetic products. Iron or copper, the other inactive metallic ions also helps to prevent the oxidative deterioration of cosmetics and personal care products.

When this chemical’s added to hard water, it might causes metals like calcium and magnesium to form a complex. This is beneficial for better foaming and cleaning performance.

Hazard :

For now, there’s no oral/dermal/inhalation toxicity found. It’s considered quite safety, it’s also not included in the List of Prohibited and Restricted Cosmetic Ingredients in Canada. But, it might be slightly irritant for the eye, since eye’s pretty sensitive. Although we know it’s safe, we still shouldn’t use it for broken skin or infants. 

  1. Paraffinum Liquidum

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Characteristic & Uses :

This clear, colourless, water-white to slightly yellowish liquid is a petroleum product containing hydrogen and carbon that’s created through distillation. Due to it’s low toxicity and cost, it’s been used as a preservative, lubricant, coolant, as well as in cosmetics or personal care products. It can be found in baby oil, makeup remover, to loosen earwax, to make candy shine, even to kill bacteria in animal skin.

Hazard :

  • Skin & Eye contact : liquid is not irritating for skin or eyes, but mist of fumes might be irritating for eye.
  • Inhalation : Since it can prevent the lungs from absorbing air particles and cause asphyxia, it shouldn’t be inhaled. It’s an irritant to the lungs.
  • Ingestion : Ingestion’s relatively non-toxic unless aspiration occurs. It might cause nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal discomfort, etc. If it enters the lungs, it can cause lipoid pneumonia.
  • Fire hazards : It might be ignited by heat, sparks, flames, and it’s containers might also exploded when heated.

You might also read : 30 Harmful Chemicals in Cosmetics Products : Caution & Ingredients

Well, those are some of the chemicals used in Japanese Hair Straightener, along with the other basic ingredients such as fragrance and water. Some of them might have few hazards, but if we treat and use them properly, like not ingesting them when they’re not supposed to be ingested, then we’ll be okay.

Just keep in mind not to overuse them since it might give you usual signs of exposure to hazardous chemical. Of course it’s up to you, whether you want to use this technological developments to change your look or not. Anyway, every single person is beautiful in their own, unique way. It doesn’t matter if you have a wavy, curly, or straight hair, you’re beautiful just the way you are. And, beauty doesn’t always mean what’s in the cover, but more than that, what’s hidden in the heart.