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?

Cassidy with curly blow-out

NC: What straightening methods have you heard about or tried, and what do you think about any one of them?

CB: I've heard of a lot of new smoothing treatments on the markets that are similar to the keratin treatments we've seen an explosion of in recent years except without the harmful chemicals. I've seen a lot of innovation in that market and I'm curious to see where this goes.

NC: What do you think is the best, least damaging and “curl-offensive” way to straighten?

CB: Using rollers beneath a dryer to first elongate the curls then following up with a flat iron or blow dryer on medium heat to pull the curls straight.

NC: Have you ever heard of or experienced (or been afraid to straighten because of) your curls not coming back?

CB: YES. It happened to me and I had to cut off 10" of hair last year!

NC: What do you think about curlies or naturals who straighten most of the time?

CB: As long as people are straightening for the right reasons and doing so safely, I'm okay with it! Unfortunately there are a lot of curlies for whom neither of those things apply, so that's where I take a lot of issue. Poor self-maintenance can be a sign of poor-self respect.

NC: What do think of some of them calling themselves “natural?"

CB: For me, natural is about letting go of chemical straightening processes. If you're not permanently altering the texture of your hair then yes, you are natural. What bothers me, though, are people with chemically straightened hair who have missed one relaxer appointment and all of a sudden think they are the card carrying member of #teamnatural just because of some new growth. Transitioners are one thing, but people who have full intention of getting a relaxer again in two months are quite another!

NC: If you were talking to a new curly, would you discourage straightening or instruct and encourage her about healthy straightening habits?

CB: Go ahead and do it!  Experiment and have fun! Just remember to practice safe straightening! If you do end up with some heat damage, remember that the scissors are your friend and you'll be better off with a little chop and a fresh start!

Read More: New Hair Straightening Treatment Reviews

suzanne with curly hair smili

Suzanne Schroeder: 3A

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

Suzanne Schroeder:  I have not straightened my hair since the 90s. I would do it myself with a brush and blow dryer.

NC: Why did you straighten?

SS: I straightened because I had no idea how to manage my curls and I thought it was easier.

NC: Why did you stop?

SS: I stopped straightening because I didn't want to spend so much time on my hair. I let some of the wave come out, but I was still brushing my hair and not very product savvy. Now I never straighten my hair.

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

SS:  I think good heat protectant products are the way to go.

NC: What straightening methods have you heard about or tried, and what do you think about them?

SS: All the new smoothing or formaldehyde free keratin treatments look interesting. Also the Blow Out Bars look promising.

NC: What do you think is the best, least damaging and “curl-offensive” way to straighten?

SS: Choosing straightening options that have the least offensive ingredients would be the best option. Be a pro-active ingredient label reader.

NC: Have you ever heard of or experienced your curls not coming back?

SS: I think curls are never happy when they are severely damaged by chemical processes or subjected to heat daily. Unhappy curls don't curl well. Curls are at their best when they are healthy and moisturized.

NC: What do you think about curlies or naturals who straighten most of the time?

SS: It's a personal choice. Of course I worry about the health risks if chemical treatments are involved.

NC: What do think of some of them calling themselves “natural?"

SS: Natural is such a big word and it can be used in so many ways. Tricky, and again, very personal.

NC: If you were talking to a new curly, would you discourage straightening or instruct and encourage her about healthy straightening habits?

SS: I think looking in the mirror everyday at the same hair styling choice can be a rocky road. Straight hair is very predictable, and some people like that. Curly hair is just the opposite. It's a new day everyday, even when you're an experienced curly. The challenge is what do you want to see in the mirror? Going back and forth between wearing hair straight and curly can be fun for some and frustrating for others. Healthy hair habits would be my message when choosing to wear your hair curly or straight.

Read More: Blow Bar Trend Creates Styles That Last

Quinn with straight hair

Quinn Smith: 3B

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

Quinn Smith: I used to always wear my hair straight. For the past 12 years, I’ve alternated between straight and curly, but I always stay curly for longer than I leave it straight.

NC: Why did you straighten?

QS: I straighten just to change up my style. I like how drastically straightening my hair can change my look.

NC: Do you still straighten sometimes? If you have a different method now when you straighten, what is it and how has it changed?

QS: I used to use an old fashioned, heat up on the stove hot comb. But now I use a professional grade flat iron. The results are much better and it’s far less damaging to my hair.

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

QS: The best way to protect your hair is to make sure it’s clean and thoroughly conditioned before straightening, use the least amount of heat possible and minimize the number of heat tools you use. Using a good heat protectant is also really important.

NC: What straightening methods have you heard about or tried and what do you think about any one of them?

QS: I’ve never had a relaxer or used any chemical straightening process. I usually straighten my hair myself (I let it air dry then use a flat iron), but sometimes I’ll visit a Dominican Salon for a blow out. Even there I only have them use one heat source.

NC: What do you think is the best, least damaging and “curl-offensive” way to straighten?

QS: I had a friend who could straighten her hair by pulling it back into a low ponytail while it was wet, and then use several ponytail holders down it’s length and letting it air dry. That has to be the least damaging way I’ve ever heard of.

NC: Have you ever heard of or experienced your curls not coming back?

QS: I’ve never worried about my curls not forming after straightening, but I always want to maintain the overall health of my tresses.

NC: What do you think about curlies or naturals who straighten most of the time?

QS: I think that your hair is a personal matter. It’s no one’s place to determine what styles or methods are appropriate for you.

NC: What do think of some of them calling themselves “natural?"

QS: There’s no need for judgement. If your hair is chemical free, it’s natural.

NC: If you were talking to a new curly, would you discourage straightening or instruct and encourage them about healthy straightening habits?

QS: Curly, straight or in between, maintaining the health of your hair and just being comfortable with and accepting your mane is what’s most important.

Read More: Curly Hair Manifesto: I Like Straightening Too!

tracey with wavy hair wearing yellow scarf

Tracey Wallace: 2B

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

Tracey Wallace: I straightened for about four or so years before I finally let it go and went natural as a junior in high school. Now I straighten about once a year, usually on the first non-humid winter day so that it will stay straight for about three days. I always end up bored with it, though, after only 3 days, and then it's another year before I go at it again.

NC: Why did you straighten?

TW: Honestly, I get bored. I can’t braid and twist styles don’t work on it. I need variety, and straight hair doesn’t have it.

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?

TW: I stopped because I got lazy, and wavy hair is just easier. It was a whole “I’m not going to fight this anymore” movement. Now, when I do straighten, I don’t apply any product because my hair is so fine that it will weigh it down or make it look greasy. If a straightening session doesn’t give me three days of a style, it isn’t worth it, so I skimp on the products.

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

TW: The best way is to not straighten at all. I’m not sure how well any heat protectors work, because even they are too heavy for my straight hair, but I’m sure they help some.

NC: What straightening methods have you heard about or tried and what do you think about any one of them?

TW: I’ve been wanting to try the twist and straighten method, where you twist your hair and run a flat iron over it. Apparently it gives you beach waves. This is a straight hair girl style though, so you have to start with already straight hair, and that seems likes too much work to get a texture I already have.

NC: What do you think is the best, least damaging and “curl-offensive” way to straighten?

TW: Keep the temperature low, don’t do it often, and if you really like the style, go get you a sew in and save your natural curls so that you can go back to them when you bored. Because I promise you, you will get bored.

NC: Have you ever heard of or experienced your curls not coming back?

TW: Definitely, but because I don’t do it often, it doesn’t really matter.

NC: What do you think about curlies or naturals who straighten most of the time?

TW: Everyone has the right to “Do you,” and no one has the right to tell anyone how to “Do you.” So if you love it and it looks good (which means you must take care of it), you’re awesome!

NC: What do think of some of them calling themselves “natural?"

TW: It doesn’t really bother me. People have different definitions for a lot of words. Stop bothering with what others are doing and focus on you.

NC: If you were talking to a new curly, would you discourage straightening or instruct and encourage them about healthy straightening habits?

TW: I would discourage it a bit, but if they liked to do it and liked the look, I’d encourage using heat protectants and a low heat setting and maybe skimping back on it a few days a week. Becoming natural and learning to love your curls isn’t an overnight thing, and I wouldn’t ever expect someone to fully join the movement after one curl revelation.

Read More: Coily Manifesto: I’m a Straight Haired Natural

What do you think? Do have questions for these ladies? Share your thoughts on straightening by commenting below.