westafricanbaby-700

Pictured: @westafricanbaby using the threading method

One of the things that I enjoy most about my hair texture (which is mostly 4a and 4b) is the versatility that comes with it. I can rock the biggest blow-out ever. I can create some of the cutest ringlets with a wash ‘n go. I can wear braids, twists and cornrows at random. And should the mood ever hit me, I can straighten it out too.

As far as straightening goes, I can’t tell you the last time I’ve used a flat iron or straightening comb. No reason, really — I just haven’t. Well, in my subconscious, the reason may be that since I do blow out my hair about once a month, I don’t want to “push it” by applying even more heat.

If you’re someone with lots of natural curls, you’d like to straighten your hair on occasion, but you want to make sure that you avoid heat damage as much as possible, here are some proven ways to do it, so to that you can get back to your curls without worrying about ruining them.

1. Start with a hair straightening shampoo & conditioner

Did you know there were products that can literally help to make your hair straighter? Take shampoos and conditioners that are marketed as being able to straighten your hair, for example. While that is actually a bit of an oversell, because they typically contain more silicone and polymers than standard shampoos and conditioners do, that means they significantly reduce frizz, so that your hair is able to lay straight better. Word on the street is some of the best straightening shampoos include:

As far as conditioners go, these are all wonderfully effective complements to your straightening shampoo: 

2. Apply a hair mask or straightening serum

After shampooing your hair, something else that can straighten your hair out is applying a hair mask. One of the best things about this option is it can help to deep condition your tresses which is great preparation for any styling products that you may apply later on (especially if any of them have alcohol in them). A commercial brand that you may want to give a shot is Natural Formula’s Keratin Repair Hair Mask - Keratin-Infused Anti-Frizz Moisturizing Hair Mask. Or, if you’d prefer to make your own, YouTuber Melissa Denise’s channel has a video that features four different DIY hair masks

3. Put your hair into cornrows or Bantu knots on wash day 

Whether you absolutely do not want to use a blow dryer at all or you’d prefer to only do a once-over when your hair has air dried at least 70 percent (or more), something else that will help to straighten your hair are cornrows or Bantu knots. One of the things that I like about both of these options is they aren’t only great ways to naturally dry your hair, they both are also really cute if you’d prefer to wear them as a protective style for a couple of days before switching over to a straighter look. That said, if you do only want to use them to dry your hair (so that you can head out to run errands or something in the meantime), there is a follow-up hack that can get your hair even straighter aftewards. That’s where my next point comes in.

4. Put your hair into plaits or flat twists when it’s partially dry 

Once your cornrows or knots have gotten your hair to the point where they are mostly dry, then switch over to some hair plaits or flat twists. If you apply an oil like argan, sweet almond or macadamia, not only will they help to deep condition your hair, they’ll also smooth down your cuticles which can also help with the hair straightening process. Speaking of oils, a commercial brand that some people really like is Strength 'n Silk by Silk Elements Thermal Silk Styler.

5. Blow dry your hair on a cooler setting 

Take it from me — blow dryers aren’t evil. They only become problematic if you’re using the wrong kind, if you’re applying the hottest setting or if you’re using them on a daily basis. As far as the kind of dryer you should invest in, check out our article “Top 10 Hair Dryers for Curly Hair”. As far as how often you should use one, that kinda varies but 1-2 times a month is plenty. As far as the setting, the hottest one is sure to singe your hair (at the very least, your ends) at some point. That’s why it’s best to let your hair air dry as much as possible, to apply a thermal heat protectant and then to go with a low or even cool setting. It may take longer for your hair to dry but at least you know that you significantly decreased your chances of damaging your hair if you opt to go this route.

6. Thread your hair 

Another method that can help to straighten your hair without applying any heat is called African threading. It’s when you take sections of your hair (preferably mildly damp and detangled) and then wrap it from root to tip with some thread until it’s completely dry. While some people use regular thread, if you want to make sure that you decrease the chances of damaging your hair cuticles, you may want to go with rubber thread or even some leather wax thread. It’s a great way to stretch and straighten your hair without a ton of manipulation (which makes it a good length retention option too!). Tips on how to thread your hair can be found below, as well as here and here. You can fluff your hair out and give it a blow-out look after threading.

7. Band your hair 

To tell you the truth, there’s not a huge difference between banding and threading other than technique and tools. With banding, instead of wrapping thread all the way down your hair (which can take a considerable amount of time, although the end results are still worth it!), you section your hair into ponytails (how ever big or small you’d like) and then strategically place hair ties all the way down your hair. Personally, I think banding is good for it if you don’t want your hair “really straight” but you just want to stretch it out some for extra volume.

8. Use some Curlformers 

If you want to straighten out your hair but you’d prefer the end result to look like a roller set, Curlformers can certainly make that happen! So, what makes them different than other hair rollers? For starters, they’re easy to put in, they’re designed to give natural hair curls without applying heat and — perhaps the best thing of all — they are really comfortable to sleep in! If you’d like to give this semi-straightening method a shot, the video below, this video and this video can all help you to learn how to properly install them and remove them, so that you can get the best results possible. Curlformers are definitely one of the best non-heat styling ways to go. No doubt about it!

 
Do you straighten your Type 4 hair? What's your favorite method?