The most common woe that most of us have is frizzy, rough hair. While frizz is normal, it is important to cut your locks some slack and understand that environment around us plays a huge role in the condition of our manes. Yes, going to the salon once in a while for a hair spa is great but if youre looking for a solution that lasts longer than three washes, you may want to consider an at-home smoothening treatment. An at-home treatment will give you the smoothened look of an in-salon service, minus the hefty price tag.What is hair smoothening?This is a chemical treatment that gives hair a shiny appearance and smoother feel. To get the look, a smoothening cream (note: some smoothening creams release formaldehyde when heated or mixed with water which, according to the American Cancer Society is a known carcinogen) is applied to the mane to smooth and straighten it.The processBefore starting the treatment, make sure you carve out at least three to four hours from your day as this process can be a long one, depending on the length and texture of your hair.PrepThis is the first step of the treatment where you prepare your scalp and locks. You begin with a deep wash to remove all the dirt, grime, and product build-up so the chemicals can be applied directly to the tresses (without coming in contact with the roots). Hair is then carefully dried and combed so that it is tangle-free and ready for product application.Smoothening creamCarefully divide your hair into smaller sections and apply the smoothening cream all over the strands, away from the scalp. If it comes in contact with skin, it can cause excessive dryness, flaking, and hair fall. It is usually advised to wash it off after 30 minutes.This cream usually contains ingredients like methylene glycol, formalin, methanal, and methanediol, ingredients that release formaldehyde when combined with water or heated. There is no fixed regulation when it comes to in-salon treatments so if you have any doubts about the side effects or ingredients being used on your mane, dont hesitate to ask the place where you buy your at-home kit from or your stylist.Hair straighteningAfter another hair wash, straighten your hair using an iron. The smoothening cream breaks the hair bonds and realigns them so that theyre a lot straighter. The smoothening effect gets further locked in when exposed to heat.Hair mask timePost straightening, a hair mask should be applied to revive and nourish the strands. It should be washed off after 20 minutes using a mild shampoo and conditioned to seal in the softness.Pros and cons of hair smootheningPros Zaps frizz Makes hair shiny Gives hair a subtle wavy look over timeCons May not work on curly hair Gives hair a blow-dried look Most treatments use a formaldehyde solution that may cause skin and eye irritationSide effects of hair smootheningAs with any treatment, this one may have side effects too. This includes hairfall as the three rounds of washing and masking can weaken the strands. It can also zap the moisture from your hair, leaving it dry as the chemicals from your strands may move on to your scalp over time, making it dry and flaky.Hair smoothening costDepending on factors like the kit you use, your hair texture and length, hair smoothening treatments can set you back Rs 3000 onwards.Who should try hair smootheningIf you have wavy, fine, coarse, or thick hair, you can try hair smoothening. However, if you do have curly hair, dont expect this treatment to transform your mane and give you poker-straight hair. Overtimeusually two to five monthsthis treatment will fade away to give you slightly wavy hair.Before and aftercare for hair smoothening treatmentsBefore:Make sure your hair and scalp are both clean.Apply the hair smoothening treatment on your strands only.After:Use a gentle sulfate-free shampoo to prevent stripping away the chemicals from the strands.Post-treatment, do not tie your hair up using hair ties or clips and resist the urge to push it behind your ears.Keep your hair straight while sleeping.Leave your conditioner on for a few extra minutes for extra softness.Apply a hair serum after every hair wash.Hair smoothening vs other treatmentsStraighteningThis one is a permanent treatment which means your hair will look poker straight till it grows out. The treatment includes using heated iron rods and chemicals to break down the shaft so the actual structure of the hair changes. Hair, when it grows out, can look a little unkempt and awkward as the rest of your mane will be straighter.KeratinThe hair strands will be saturated with chemicals and theyre then dried. It is ironed and washed. This smoothening treatment will make your hair look bouncy and soft and the effect lasts for about three to six months.FAQsHow often can I get a hair smoothening treatment done?Every time you get it done, you risk making your hair more brittle and breakage-prone. Dont get it done more than twice a year.Do I need to overhaul my haircare routine post-treatment?If your haircare routine consists of sulfate formulas, you may have to switch to gentler options.Will smoothening treatments make thin hair look limp?Yes, they will as they appear finer once smoothened.