From keratin hair treatments to Brazilian blow-dries, I've tried pretty much all the hair smoothing treatments out there in a bid to shave time off my hairstyling routine. My hair isn't very thick but I have a lot of it, and it can often be frizzy and wavy where I don't want it to be. Instead of relying heavily on straighteners during the most recent national lockdown, I was intrigued to try the new hair smoothing treatment which hairstylists are raving about: hair botox.
What is hair botox?
Hair botox (which doesn't use the dangerous chemical formaldehyde, often found in similar treatments) originates from Brazil. A quick Google or Treatwell search will conjure a handful of UK salons specialising in the treatment. I opted for Nicky Clarke in London's West End. Nicky Clarke stylist Ondine Cowley, who has curly hair, spotted the treatment on her travels while experimenting with products and treatments, and loved it.
Contrary to the name, there are no needles involved whatsoever and it doesn't involve the skin on the scalp, just your lengths. Similar to how actual Botox smooths out fine lines and wrinkles, this treatment uses ingredients to iron away frizz, making hair appear smooth, silky and shiny.
The treatment is straightforward. My hair was washed and the treatment was applied exactly like a hair mask from root to tip. My hair was covered with a plastic cap and the treatment was left on for 45 minutes. After waiting for it to work its magic, my hair was rinsed, rough-dried and straightened. It took just under two hours on my shoulder-length hair. That said, the process can be adapted depending on your chosen result. Left on for longer and blow-dried or ironed into hair, it has more of a straightening effect.
My hair is now so much easier to manage and I haven't touched my styling tools, such as straighteners and blow-dry brushes, since. Now, I simply let my hair air-dry or rough-dry it with a hairdryer. While my hair isn't dead straight, it's a lot smoother.
As it has been dyed, my hair can often be very dry but now it barely needs any product to feel soft and shiny. The ends sometimes flick up, as my hair is cut very bluntly, but a drop of hair oil or styling creme smooths them out. Try Blue Tit x OWAY Next Day Cream, £35, Chämpo Weightless Hair Oil, £22, or Vo5 Invisibly Light Hair Oil, £4.39.
How long does hair botox last and how much does it cost?
Hair botox is not permanent and can last for months. While it doesn't grow out like a Brazilian blow-dry (which often leaves roots curly and frizzy and ends super straight), this treatment eventually washes out. How quickly that happens depends on how often you wash your hair and which products you use. The more you have it done, the more the natural structure of the hair will be affected, according to the salon.
At Nicky Clarke, hair botox starts at £350 but check in with your chosen salon beforehand, as prices may vary.
Are there any downsides of hair botox?
There are a couple of key points to remember. Some might even count them as downsides. After a couple of hours, my hair smelled strangely metallic and that night, I had to sleep in a hair cap to stop the lingering scent from keeping me awake. Once I washed my hair the next day, though, the smell faded considerably.
Like coloured hair, you're encouraged to use sulphate-free shampoo so as not to strip away the treatment. I love Pantene Lift & Volume Sulphate Free Shampoo, £4.99, and Living Proof Colour Care Shampoo, £24. That said, it's common to notice product and sebum build-up when using solely shampoo formulated without SLS or SLES (sodium lauryl sulphate) for a long while, so I'd recommend opting for a clarifying shampoo once a week or every fortnight to stop your scalp from becoming itchy or flaky. Try Pureology Strength Cure Shampoo, £20.80, or L'Oréal Professionnel Serié Expert Pro Longer Shampoo, £13.40.
My verdict? I'm sold on hair botox. One month after my appointment, my hair is still in tip-top condition: shiny, strong, smooth and easy to manage. Once it wears off, I'll absolutely book in a second time, mainly because it doesn't completely eradicate my wave pattern like other treatments. It's basically my hair but better, and anything that shaves time off my hairstyling routine gets my vote.
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