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Blow out bars, keratin treatments, flat irons, oh my! As curly, coily or wavy ladies, we all have the option of wearing our hair naturally curly or straightened. What do you think is the best way to straighten your curls for a different look? Are you concerned about the damage straightening can sometimes cause? Maybe you would never even dream of straightening your curls or maybe you are a straight-haired, natural curly by choice. We asked the four ladies of Texture Perspectives about their thoughts on straightening, and we invite you to weigh in on the the topic too with your comments.

Cassidy with straight hair

Cassidy Blackwell: 4A

NaturallyCurly: Do you straighten or have you straightened in the past? How do or did you do it (professionally, yourself, keratin treatments, blow outs)?

Cassidy Blackwell: I relaxed my hair for 16 years, from the time I was 8 until almost 3 years ago (and now you know how old I am!). During my Golden Age of Relaxers, I didn't want to have just straight hair, I wanted hair that was straighter than straight. The kind that blew in the wind and fell in soft layers over my shoulders. The kind that laid in a flat Aaliyah-swoop over my eye. I paid for it, I got it and I loved it.

Fast forward to Cassidy the naturalista, and in my time of being natural, I have only attempted straightening three times using heat. I guess that puts me at a frequency of about once a year.

NC: Why did you straighten?

CB: I relaxed because I had been doing it for so long it never occurred to me that I didn't have to. Since being natural I have straightened for three specific reasons:

1. To do a length check and test out a new heat protectant spray.

2. To have my hair trimmed. This particular stylist preferred to straighten hair to cut it.

3. To investigate the process and techniques of Dominican Salons.

NC: Why did you stop, or do you still straighten sometimes? If you have a different method now when you straighten, what is it and how has it changed?

CB: The last time I straightened my hair, I walked out of the salon absolutely despising my stick straight hair. My CURLS have become such a unique defining part of me that I didn't look or feel like myself without them! I haven't straightened since then because even for the four days it lasted. I missed my curls too much.

NC: What is the best way to protect curls from damage when straightening?

CB: Practice Safe Straightening! Here's how:

1. CHOOSE A GOOD LUBRICANT:  Pick nourishing conditioners and deep treatment to make sure your hair has the hydration it needs to make straightening an enjoyable experience. If you've got dryness, damage and split ends, excessive heat is only going to make things worse.

2. ALWAYS USE PROTECTION:  Make sure to use a good heat protectant spray, or you run the risk of contracting a Straightening Transmitted Incident (STI)!  There are a lot of good heat protectants on the market, so choose a formula that works for you such as a serum or a spray. As recent research has shown, STI's aren't necessarily permanent, so head to your stylist to see how to fix the damage.

But remember, if you want to avoid all potential damage to your curls, there's always ABSTINENCE.

Read More: Do Natural Hair Straightening Treatments Work?

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