Bizarre reaction to long-term flat iron use?

My hair is naturally 3b but about a year ago I started using a CHI (with Silk Infusion as a protectant) to straighten my hair as often as three times a week. Now when I let my hair dry naturally, it makes big, awkward, wirey waves. The weird part is that its actually completely smooth, healthy, and frizz-free. My hair stylist (who I have known since childhood) said she's never seen my hair this healthy and she's right, its never been so smooth and glossy -- I have some breakage and splits but definitely not any more than I used to have before I started to straighten it. It even gets greasy after two days without washing, which certainly never happened before.

Its easier to manage my hair this way but I miss my curls. I'm not really sure what to do; a few people have told me I just need to deep-condition it but I'm hesitant to do that because its already at the point where it gets greasy after a couple days. I know that ionic irons seal the cuticle, so I was thinking maybe the high heat of the CHI sealed the cuticle permanently? I tried a clarifying shampoo followed by d'avines Lovely conditioner for curly hair and noticed a bit of an improvement. Still, nowhere near where it used to be. What should I do? Is there even anything I can do?

I should also mention that the shafts of my hair are large and coarse (my sister has naturally 1a hair and the shaft of one of my hairs is easily 2 or 3 times the diameter of one of hers). When its straight, my hair is essentially the same texture as Asian or Native American hair. I'm of Eastern European Jewish descent. Thanks in advance!
It's not strange that you lost curl-I pretty much completely lost curl in the front of my hair after frequent flat ironing. It just became this kind of frizzy straightish thing, with a very rough non-compliant texture. So in the sense that you've lost curl that's not weird.

What is strange is that your condition has improved not deteriorated. Maybe the products (are they full of cones) have had this smoothing effect on your hair, in addition to the iron.

I second the rec to DT more, even if you have to use a gentle shampoo slightly more frequently (maybe you could focus only on the roots when shampooing). Also I find that products high in glycerine really bring out my curl, so I'd recommend virtually any product that fits that description. Also, Aubrey Organics Mandarin Magic Jelly gave me a lot of shrinkage, so it might help enhance your curls, too.

From the thickness of your hair, it sounds like it looks really nice straight. Also the sheer size of your strands (the extra cuticle layers of protection) are probably what has kept it from being in bad condition up till now. Still, the reason your curls aren't coming back is because your hair is damaged, so while it might look nice for now, it can only get more damaged if you continue straightening it this frequently.
ok so i thought maybe some pictures might help.

here is a before picture

and here is one i took tonight

i used a clarifying shampoo beforehand and let it dry naturally with a tiny bit of hydrolized wheat-protein anti-breakage treatment and a little garnier curl enhancing mousse.

more pictures at
I would recommend clarifying and DT. I used my CHI and silk infusion for about 1 year and a half. The silk infusion is loaded with -cones. Once I clarified, my curls seemed to do better. HTH!
CG since 9/2007
medium texture; slightly porous

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anything from CJ, KBB Luscious Locks Hair Mask, Kenra Moisturizing Conditioner
Even though hair isn't a living thing, it does carry "memory" ... so, if you've flat-ironed frequently, it can kind of "forget" how to be curly. If you stop flat-ironing altogether, your hair most likely will revert back to its former state (unless you've had some kind of hormonal changes).
- Tiffany
Hair Stylist and Curly Hair Specialist - St. Petersburg, FL (Tampa Bay)

Blog: Live Curly, Live Free
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Sulfate- and non-water soluble silicone-free since 04/22/2002
3B, brunette: medium texture, low porosity, high density

Even though hair isn't a living thing, it does carry "memory" ... so, if you've flat-ironed frequently, it can kind of "forget" how to be curly. If you stop flat-ironing altogether, your hair most likely will revert back to its former state (unless you've had some kind of hormonal changes).
Originally Posted by StruttsWife
I agree with this. For several years I was obsessed with smoothing my hair, my intention wasn't to straighten but that's how it turned out from the routine I was doing. After I stopped trying to fight what I considered to be a head full of flyaways, and let it do its thing, all the curls came back after a while.
Thanks everyone, that was definitely helpful. is awesome, I wish I'd found out about it sooner.

So I think I'll put away the iron for now and try to revive my curls. Any product suggestions? I need a good DT, maybe a leave-in, and maybe some sort of curl activator or scrunching spray. What do all of you use?
I think your curls were fun and very pretty with great length (they also suit you). Your current wavy look is also pretty, and I agree that it looks healthy. (You're sort of making a face in the pictures, but it does look good).

Enjoy it, and let us know how the clarifying + deep conditioning goes..
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(taking a break from posting starting late august 2009)
i've cut back on heatstyling a lot but still blow dry two or three times a week, and i am trying to use products with less alcohol and silicones. i've been experimenting with gels and scrunching sprays, which seem like they might be helping a little when i use a diffuser. still it seems like no matter what i do, my hair just makes weird stringy waves that deflate within a few hours.

i have been clarifying and DT-ing and that seems to help for a little while. i used aphogee's two-step treatment but it didn't help and i think it it made some of my hair fall out.

at this point i'm mostly just trying to be a little more gentle to my hair while it grows out. the only thing i'm wondering now is whether going CG might make a difference? i don't see how it could hurt, but i'd rather not buy all new products if it isn't going to make a difference. what do you all think?

thanks again, sorry for being such a whiner :(

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