Every once in a while you get the itch. No, not the one in that weird spot you can’t reach. I’m talking about the itch to flat iron.

It can be just for a different look, to appease the whiners who want to see it straight, to trim or to check on length. Whatever the reason, you might still have some fears about the dreaded heat damage or you may not know how to go about it.

To avoid these common coily issues, follow these simple tips to get your hair looking smooth and sleek one day and back to bouncy and coily the next.

Deep Conditioning

Heat can be a traumatic experience for your hair. I mean, think about the damage that could be done if you ran an iron over your skin. Hair and skin are not the same, but a flat iron can get pretty darn hot, so make sure your hair is ready for it by doing a good protein treatment followed by a moisturizing deep conditioning.

Many women also swear that the key to a good flat iron session is an oil rinse beforehand. All you need to do is apply a light oil to your hair after shampooing, or rinsing for the CG women, allow it to sit then apply your conditioner and rinse it out. Just enough oil will be left over for moisture and dream-like detangling days.

Cleanse

The key to a good flat iron job is having clean hair free from products that could weigh it down. Flat ironing on dirty hair is a major no-no. Not only will it make your hair appear heavy and greasy, but the dirt on your hair will heat up as the flat iron comes into contact with it helping to fry your hair.

So if your follow the CG method, then do a good co-wash beforehand. However, if you are like many women who use a few products that have the ability to build up on the hair over time, then you will need to clarify with a shampoo beforehand.

Moisturize and Hydrate

Another major key step to flat ironing is moisturizing. Your choice of moisturizer is key for having hair that is shiny and healthy, yet weightless. Skip the heavy butter-based moisturizers and reach for your water-based light leave-in or moisturizer that does double duty as a good detangler and moisturizer post-wash.

Also remember not to use too much as it could weigh your hair down. You want your hair to feel coated and moisturized, but not be so weighed down that you can squeeze the excess out of your hair or that it takes a long time to absorb into your coils.

Heat Protectants

After you moisturize is usually the best time to apply your heat protectant. A good heat protectant will help to protect the hair from the heat of your flat iron and prevent damage. But remember, it is a product that you picked up from the store, it wasn’t heaven sent. Thus, it will not protect your hair from the wrath of a flat iron cranked up to the degree of Hades. Use your flat iron on the lowest heat setting possible, ALWAYS.

Roller Setting

At this point you could blow dry your hair straight, but I find that this step not only dries out the hair, but could cause damage to your ends from using the comb attachment of the blowfryer. Also, by adding one more step of heat to your regimen you could run the risk of getting heat damage. However, should you decide to blow dry then try YouTubing (yes, it’s a word) the "tension blow dry method" which basically involves pulling your hair taught as you run the blowdryer over it to dry straight instead of curly.

For me, instead of blow drying, I roller set my hair. Once dry, my individual strands are smooth and straight and really only need to be flat ironed to remove the curl. Getting a good roller set regimen took a lot of trial and error, and this is what I discovered:

  • Moisturized hair equals shiny bouncy curls, and not enough moisture will yield an afro. Also, the ends need extra moisture as they are the oldest
  • The hair needs to be smoothed out before setting it. I like to use my denman, but a comb can also be used.
  • Once the hair has been set, it is imperative that it dries 100 percent or else it will frizz out.
  • Ensure your curlers are tight and your roots are held taught enough that they straighten as well. However, make sure that you do not pull too tightly as it can cause breakage and pain. If your head begins to hurt or you develop a headache once your rollers are in, then they are too tight.
  • Curlformers are easier to install and do not require a bonnet dryer. However magnetic rollers and large flexi rods are also good. Plus, roller setting is a style in and of itself so if you become tired after roller setting or have somewhere to go or something to do, then remove the rollers and enjoy your curls for the day, then flat iron.
Pre-heat your flat iron to no higher than 300 degrees Fahrenheit..

How to Flat Iron Coils Effectively

The method by which you flat iron your hair is key to its longevity and your hair's reversion. If done improperly your hair could end up frizzy, revert quickly or become damaged.

Heating Instructions

To start, pre-heat your flat iron to no higher than 300 degrees Fahrenheit. At 300 degrees and under, it's almost guaranteed that the hair will revert, but anything over that and it’s a guessing game. I know many of you are probably wondering how you’ll get your coils to straighten with such little heat, but it really does work. With this regimen, very little heat is needed. And if you have roller set your hair correctly, it should be pretty much straight anyway.

Also, very little heat is needed as you will flat iron very small sections of hair. By using small sections, you ensure that the heat is distributed to all the strands in between the plates which will help to get your hair perfectly straight and ensure it remains that way right up until you wash it out.

Sectioning and Detangling

Once you’ve sectioned off your small piece and secured the rest of your hair, grab a small toothed comb and gently comb through that section of hair from tip to root to smooth it out. Then, when you go to pass the comb through your hair once more, use your other hand to gently pass the flat iron over the hair on top of the comb so that your flat iron goes over freshly detangled hair. This method is called the "comb-chase method" and should be YouTubed for better understanding. This method smoothes out the hair to ensure that the heat is distributed properly and doesn’t set the hair in a frizzy state, but a smooth one. It also helps to straighten those pesky ends. Lastly, if your hair is really hard to straighten, try using a boar bristle brush to really smooth it out.

Direction Matters

To ensure your hair lays how you want it to, straighten it in a downward direction and not straight out at a 90 degree angle like you may be tempted to.

If you are a fine haired coily girl, an easy trick for more volume is to flat iron the hair at the crown at a 90 degree angle from your scalp to give your roots more lift. Once each section is flat ironed you could mist the roots lightly with a spritz for hold to keep them lifted. Just don’t overdo it with the spritz because you want light volume not a beehive a la Snookie and Amy Winehouse.

Flat Ironing Coils: Dos and Donts

  • Moisturize thoroughly before flat ironing.
  • Rollerset instead of flat ironing.
  • Purchase a good ceramic or tourmaline plated flat iron for good heat distribution and shiny hair because of complicated science stuff.
  • DON’T crank up your flat iron to max– we want to straighten not burn to a crisp.
  • DON’T flat iron when tired to avoid sloppiness and cranking up the flat iron to max to get it over and done with.
  • DON’T skip or be skimpy with the heat protectant.
  • DON’T clamp the flat iron down on the hair to avoid snagging. Allow it to glide over your hair.