Though we love our curls and waves, sometimes we all want to change it up and go for a different look. If you are just starting to embrace your curls or recovering from some serious heat damage, I strongly suggest not straightening your hair for as long as possible. For example, when I embarked on my natural hair texture journey I didn't straighten my hair for over 2 years to recover some health. However, once you get your hair nice and healthy straightening it occasional won't cause THAT much damage- if it is done correctly. Here are some tips and things to consider when straightening your curls...
1. Do a deep treatment beforehand.
No matter how careful you will be, any kind of straightening with heat will inevitably cause some damage.
If your hair is not protein sensitive, now is a good time to use a mask with added proteins. Here are two of my current faves:
2. Use a heat protectant before picking up the styling tool.
This step is non-negotiable if you want your hair to remain healthy after straightening. The hot tools can burn your hair- just think of how they feel on your skin. I always work in sections, so I will spray each section with heat protector before applying heat. I like the Living Proof Restore Revitalizing Spray.
3. Decide if you want to blow-dry or flat iron.
We really don't need to use both hot tools--that only doubles the damage and recovery time.
If you are skilled enough, blow dry your hair with a round brush, section by section (don't forget that heat protector) and when you are done apply a little hair serum to help with frizz. Or go to the salon and have the professionals blow your hair out for you (this is my usual choice since I am terrible at blow drying and only wear my hair straight 1 or 2 times a year).
If you want to use a flat iron instead, wash and condition your hair the night before and sleep with leave in conditioner in 2 loose braids or two big 2 strand twists. The next morning, take the flat iron and go over each section no more than twice, applying the heat protector before each and every pass. Make sure your hair has air dried completely before touching it with that flat iron. Sarah has an excellent flat ironing tutorial here.
4. Make your style last with dry shampoo.
In case your roots start getting oily, spray dry shampoo directly onto the scalp massage and comb through. I like the Klorane and Batiste Dry Shampoos. If the length of your hair becomes too oily too fast, you can also spray the dry shampoo down the lengths and comb it through to absorb some of the oil.
5. Don't brush or touch your hair.
I am so guilty of this every time I straighten my hair It's so soft and silky and I can actually run my fingers through it! But just because I could, doesn't mean I should. Touching your hair too much when straight will make it oiler more quickly and can also lead to frizz. And over brushing can cause hair breakage, so please be careful.
6. Try straightening with no heat... (it's possible!)
If you want to straighten your hair with no heat damage at all, straighten it without heat! Using velcro rollers or large curl formers can get your hair pretty straight without the need of any blow dryers or flat irons at all. My friend Nora demonstrates how in this video tutorial.
7. Use a hair milk for extra nourishment.
Be careful not to use too much product or it might make the straightness start reverting back to your natural texture. I really love the SheaMoisture Extra Moisturizing Transitioning Milk for this purpose.
8. Lastly, deep condition again!
This will help replenish a lot of the moisture lost while your hair was straight and help to repair some of the straightening damage. Even better if you can use heat or steam with this deep treatment.
Enjoy the fun change but remember, straightening too often and using too much heat can permanently cause some damage and alter your curl pattern. So practice safe straightening!
Read my tips on maintaining long natural hair here!