Hair straightening costs vary based on where and how you do it. But is it affordable? We think it is. Read on to learn about salon and at-home treatments, along with how to save big.
- How Much Does Hair Straightening Cost?
- Costs by Straightening Type
- Types of Treatments
- Cost vs Effectiveness
How Much Does Hair Straightening Cost?
Want smoother, straighter hair but a little unsure about the hair straightening cost for a permanent fix? There are a variety of methods you can use to temporarily or permanently straighten your hair.
Hair straightening costs vary based on treatment type and location. Expect to pay as little as $5 (for an at-home relaxer) to more than $900 (for professional Japanese thermal hair straightening).
Keratin straightening treatments or Brazilian blowouts are other popular options. The cost of this procedure ranges from about $150 to $600.
But straightening methods are not only priced differently. They also have different levels of effectiveness. Some are better for certain hair types than others.
Is it worth it to shell out $600-$900 for a straightening treatment that might only last six months? Will a $5 at-home relaxer actually straighten your hair? Which methods are the most gentle and damaging for your hair?
We’ll give it to you straight in this guide. Keep reading to see the cost of each type of hair straightening treatment, how the treatments work, and their effects on your hair.
Hair Straightening Cost Guide
Hair straightening costs range from as little as $5 up to $900+, depending on your chosen method. With such a wide range of prices, how can you know what you should expect to pay?
The average price for each hair straightening method can help you make more sense of how much these treatments cost. Below, we list the three most popular hair straightening treatments and the average cost of each one.
We’ve listed them in order from the least to most expensive. In the next section, you’ll be able to read more about each treatment, how it works, and how effective it is.
1. Chemical Hair Straightening Cost
Chemical hair straighteners, also called relaxers, are similar to perms. But instead of creating curls, these straighteners loosen and remove curls and waves from hair. The professional-strength chemical straighteners that salons use are the most effective, but cost as much as $250.
You can also purchase very affordable at-home chemical straightening kits with less powerful chemicals for as little as $5. These may not completely straighten the hair, but they will remove some curl and diminish waves.
- Low cost: $5
- Average cost: $115
- High cost: $250
2. Keratin Hair Straightening Cost
Keratin hair straightening is known for being one of the more gentle processes you can use. The hair’s disulfide bonds that hold it in its natural shape, such as a wave or curl, are altered and refilled with keratin, which prevents the hair from curling.
The keratin treatment is also known for smoothing the hair and making it shinier. Getting a keratin hair straightening treatment will cost as little as $150 at a salon.
But most people pay around $300 for it. At a high-end salon, if your hair is very long, or if your stylist specializes in these treatments, you may pay as much as $600.
- Low cost: $150
- Average cost: $300
- High cost: $600
3. Japanese Hair Straightening Cost
Japanese hair straightening is also called thermal reconditioning, rebonding, Yuko, or thermal hair straightening. This method straightens the hair by applying powerful chemicals that break the cysteine protein bonds in the hair.
Once those bonds are broken (15-20 minutes), the hair is steam-treated, then straightened with a very hot flat iron. It’s then followed with another chemical treatment to “seal” the bonds into their new, straight position.
This process takes the longest out of any of the permanent straightening methods, and it’s also one of the more expensive. You could pay as little as $150, but most people pay around $300-$600 for the treatment. You could pay as much as $900+ in a high-end salon.
- Low cost: $150
- Average cost: $300-$600
- High cost: $900
Types of Hair Straightening Treatments
Let’s take a closer look at each of the straightening treatments, how they work, how long they last, and their overall effectiveness. We’ll also talk about the types of hair each treatment is best for and who should avoid them.
- Chemical straighteners
- Keratin treatments
- Japanese straighteners
1. Chemical Straightener or Relaxer
Chemical straighteners or relaxers are like the reverse of a curl-inducing perm. These treatments chemically alter and relax the hair to remove or reduce curls and waves.
Instead of targeting the cysteine protein bonds in hair, chemical straighteners go after the hair’s disulfide bonds. Once these bonds are broken, the hair is open to assume a new shape.
In this case, that means removing the bends and waves in the hair to make it straight. Chemical straighteners sold in kits for at-home use are not as strong as the professional options.
Most at-home kits are sold as “no-lye relaxers” that use calcium hydroxide to break the disulfide bonds. In a professional setting, your stylist might use sodium hydroxide – lye – as a more powerful and effective chemical relaxer.
- Best for: Healthy, medium-to-thick coily, curly, or wavy hair; non-sensitive scalps
- Cost: $5-$250
2. Keratin Treatment
Keratin treatments are very popular to straighten curly or wavy hair. They’re known to be pretty gentle on the hair as well. You might also hear this treatment called a Brazilian blowout. Here’s how the treatment works.
Your stylist will apply a keratin (the protein found in our hair, teeth, and nails) solution to your hair. This solution will infuse with the hair to fill any broken protein gaps with keratin.
The keratin essentially seals those gaps in the hair’s bonds and makes the hair sleek, smooth, and shiny. With the added keratin in the missing bonds that cause curls, coils, or waves, the hair lays straight and flat.
After the solution has been applied to the hair, the stylist uses a very hot flat iron (about 450 degrees) to “seal” the keratin formula into the strands of your hair. It lasts about six months and won’t damage your hair if you do it every 6-8 months as the straightened hair grows out.
Using keratin shampoos and conditioners can help further extend the amount of time this treatment will last. Keratin treatments eliminate about 95% of curl, plus add volume.
The added weight of the keratin-infused hair also enables the hair to weigh itself down and hang straight. It works best for hair that is curly or wavy, but not coily.
- Best for: Damaged or healthy thick, medium, or fine hair that is curly or wavy
- Cost: $150-$600
3. Japanese Straightener
Japanese straightening, thermal reconditioning, rebonding, or Yuko treatments straighten the hair using chemicals and heat that break and restructure the hair’s cysteine protein bonds.
After those bonds are broken, extremely hot temperatures (steam and flat iron) are used to straighten the hair and make it stay in the straight formation. The chemical processing part of this treatment takes about 15-20 minutes to break the hair’s protein bonds.
Afterward, steam is used to heat the hair to high temperatures and restructure those protein bonds. The chemicals are applied again to secure the protein bonds in their new position.
Finally, the hair is flat ironed at a high temperature to further set the style. In all, this treatment takes anywhere from 5 to 8 hours in the salon. After 72 hours, you will need to return to the salon for the final steps of the process.
It’s not always effective on all hair types, which may last about six months, and it can damage the hair more than other straightening treatments. For this reason, chemically processed hair should not be subjected to it.
- Best for: Healthy, undamaged thin or medium-thick hair that is curly or wavy
- Cost: $150-$900
Comparing Hair Straightening Cost and Effectiveness
We’ve talked in-depth about the three most popular methods for permanently straightening hair:
- Chemical straightening (relaxing)
- Keratin hair straightening (Brazilian blowout)
- Japanese hair straightening (thermal reconditioning)
While these are all comparable in terms of their effectiveness and cost, some outperform the others.
Chemical straightening treatments are easily the most affordable in the bunch. For as little as $5 for an at-home kit, you can use chemical relaxers to remove or reduce the amount of curl in your hair. The tradeoff comes in effectiveness.
It’s cheaper to buy an at-home kit, but these use calcium hydroxide instead of lye. They’re less effective overall but are gentler on the scalp than lye-based relaxers like you’d get in a salon for as much as $250.
Keratin straightening treatments are very popular in the United States for a reason – they work well and can be pretty affordable. Since they last about six months and add shine and smoothness to the hair, they’re commonly used on very thick or curly hair.
And because they don’t damage the hair as much as relaxers or Japanese thermal straightening treatments, they are even suitable for damaged hair. Starting at about $150 and priced up to $600, we consider keratin treatments to be priced in the mid-range.
Japanese straightening treatments are growing in popularity internationally. These treatments combine chemicals with heat to straighten hair. But since different types of chemicals are used for this method, results are not always as straight as clients would like.
For this reason, this method is best for thin to medium-thick hair that is curly or wavy, but not tightly coiled. It does have a smoothing effect; even on hair it doesn’t 100% straighten.
It lasts for as much as six months and starts at about $150 (more commonly priced at $300-$600), but can be as much as $900 or more. So, chemical relaxers are the cheapest way to straighten your hair long-term, but they can also damage your hair, similar to a perm or hair color.
Keratin treatments can be pretty affordable, especially if you don’t have super long hair, and they’re okay to use on damaged hair. Japanese straightening treatments aren’t 100% effective and don’t work well on all hair types.
Added to their higher cost, we think the keratin straightening treatment is the best option overall for great results, less damage to the hair, and a full six months of straightened locks.