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All About Straightening, pt 2: How do I straighten my hair without damaging it?

Avatar • Jun 3, 2010

So, I started this series because I get A LOT of emails about straightening. Yesterday we discussed whether straightening in the name of love and/or work is ever justified. Today I’ll post emails from readers who want to know exactly how you straighten natural hair/do straight styles without damaging it!

This email is from Kristen

I love the site. I transitioned for a little over a year, and I did my big chop about a month ago. It wasn’t really a “big chop” per se because after transitioning for a year my natural hair was pretty long.

But anywayyy, I am LOVING my natural hair, but one of the reasons that I went natural was so that my hair would be more versatile. With that being said, every now and then, I would like to wear my hair straight. Since I’ve been natural, I haven’t flat ironed though because I’m scared! I don’t want to damage my hair! I guess you can see that the recent stories about people dealing with heat damage scared me a bit. haha.

I know that your site is primarily focused on NO heat at all, but I think it would be beneficial if you did a feature about ways to SAFELY straighten natural hair.

Reader Toni had this question about Janelle Beauty’s Diva Smooth hair straightener

I would like to know if anyone has tried Janelle Beauty products, Diva Smooth? The product claims to straighten hair, chemical free.

I think it’s just a deep conditioning pre-shampoo treatment, also promoting coconut oil as a thermal protectant. Could you advise if you, or anyone else you know has tried this product?

This email is from Oyinda

I have been natural for a year. I just heard about Brazilian keratin treatments that can make your hair straight for a while instead of using relaxers. I did my research but didn’t find much for Black hair. Any ideas??

So what’s your advice ladies? How do you straighten your hair? And do the aforementioned straigthening treatments work?

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IsaKe
IsaKe
10 years ago

Make sure a protective product is used…ie a relaxing hair balm. The days of frying the hair is over, so don’t use a heavy oil. A good flat iron with a digital temp. gauge is the best. DO NOT use a CHI iron. If you are going to straighten the hair use a quality iron…CHI is not a quality iron. IMO. Babybliss Nano Titanium is one of the best in my book. Also let the hair air dry or sit under the dryer. Don’t go full blast with the blow dryer. You can kinda pull it straight a lil with… Read more »

Olivia
10 years ago

Well, while straitening is rare for me when I do, I do what I like to call a ‑cone conditioning. I use a few products in my hair to DC that are heavy with cones (they do not conduct heat) and also use olive oil for moisture and shine (it also protects from heat damage). It works really well, still I try not to straighten too much (or at all) because I don’t want to risk straight ends or patches.

AdriB
AdriB
10 years ago

Re: Keratin Treatments CBS News “Women are raving about a new hair-straightening process from Brazil that works and, by all accounts, works well, for up to four months. But Brazilian Keratin Treatment (BKT) uses formaldehyde, a chemical known to cause cancer. On The Early Show Friday, Dr. Ellen Marmur, a dermatologist at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center, raised red flags about the potential health risks of BKT. It’s grown rapidly in popularity in the United States over the last six months. It promises shiny, voluminous, straight hair — even on colored or damaged hair — for three to four months.… Read more »

Gisele
Gisele
10 years ago

I tried the keratin treatment in February. They make formulations now which contain no formaldehyde and my hairdresser used that on me. I have hair which is 3c in the back and 4a everywhere else. the treatment is quite high maintenance for afro hair. Each time you wash it you have to blow dry and then flat iron again. I didn’t want to commit to that so just did my usual roller setting. I found that teh treatment was highly beneficial for my weak/delicate hair — I shed far less hair in the past few months which I attribute to… Read more »

Ashley
Ashley
10 years ago

I had my hair straightened for the first time last week for my graduation. I was very nervous about heat damage. I asked my mom to do it because she used to press it when I was a kid and my hair was always healthy. Unfortunately she didn’t want to do it and I went to my hairdresser. I washed my hair and braided it in sections so it could air dry. That way I wouldn’t have my hair blown dry AND pressed. I used Pantene Heat Protection and Shine Spray for medium to thick hair. I’m glad I did… Read more »

LBell
LBell
10 years ago

It’s been over 6 years since I last straightened my hair but I do have some tips: 1) Use as little heat as you can get away with. There’s this tendency to assume that 4b hair in general needs lots of heat to get straight, but in my case the right rollerset (very large rollers, small sections, sopping wet and thoroughly detangled hair) could take care of about 75% of the straightening process, and a flat iron could take care of the rest. I have fine strands, though; I don’t know if this would work for someone with thicker (coarser) strands.… Read more »

PreciousDST
10 years ago

I actually use a CHI Turbo, so I’ll have to disagree with IsaKe. But when I straighten, which happens quarterly for trims, I use all CHI products. I use the Shampoo and the Infra Treatment Conditioner. From there I section my hair into 8 large twist and add the regular Infra treatment. I air-dry my hair until it’s about 80% then lightly blow dry. The CHI Turbo has temp control, so I usually place the heat on the medium setting. I flat iron in small sections, and go from there. If you’re interested, you can check out my Fotki…www.fotki.com/PreciousDST The… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
10 years ago

I don’t straighten with direct heat, but if I want a “straightened” or stretched look I wrap my hair around the big rollers used for volume and air dry. The results are pretty much the same anyway because my hair doesn’t become bone straight with flat irons or blow dryers without an incredibly damaging amount of heat.

Cristine
10 years ago

I agree with Nicole, you can always use rollers if you don’t want to use direct heat. But if you are using a blow dryer/flat iron definitely use a heat protectant. I’m transitioning and I just flat ironed my hair for the first time recently and I got away with WAY less heat than I’m used to using. Also, parting my hair in smaller sections helped too. it took a little longer, but the extra time means that I don’t go over the same section several times. I washed it out today and my curls were still in tact 🙂… Read more »

Michelle
Michelle
10 years ago

I recommend the article below to everyone..it is a great article on how heat affects your hair and how to use it

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/2635189/is_heat_really_that_bad_for_your_hair.html?cat=69

Brie
Brie
10 years ago

When straightening your hair with a flat iron, use MoroccanOil. This stuff is AMAZING! It’s a thick oil to the touch, but it will surprise you! If you use a very little amount in your hair wet, right after washing it, let hair air dry, then straighten. You’ll see the texture change drastically. Sometimes I find it hard to wrap because it’s so silky so I use a tiny tiny bit more oil to keep it in place just so I can wrap it before going to bed (my normal routine) when you unwrap it in the morning, just brush… Read more »

Brie
Brie
10 years ago

P.S.
About the MoroccanOil, a little goes a LONG WAY! I bought my first bottle last year in late October (2009) and I finished it last week (end of sept. 2010)

Shondra
Shondra
9 years ago

Also for those who don’t want to use silicones as a heat protectant, you can use grapeseed oil. It can withstand heat 425F-450F! I don’t use heat over 350F if even that. It is a light oil and it’s also full of antioxidants so it works great for hair and skin. I suggest buying in your local grocery store or farmers market because it is a lot cheaper than getting it at a beauty supply. Also a little goes a long way, I bought a huge bottle for $8.99 at the local henrys about a month ago and I’ve barely… Read more »

Terra
Terra
9 years ago

ok..as a hair stylist and someone that is natural..i straighten my hair everyonce in a blue moon.. now some may say that CHI irons fry your hair or arent the greatest..its not the iron thats bad..its the fact you dont protect your hair before straightening it. You have to apply some kind of heat protectant..whether its KENRA’s thermal spray, Regis’s press it, Mizani’s iron curl, CHI’s iron spray, Paul Mitchell’s hot off the press..just name a few. You have to be smart in how you use a flat iron or a pressing comb. Plus if you choose to straighten your… Read more »

Dion Padon
8 years ago

I appreciate you for truly sharing this site post.Very many thanks again. Cool.

Amaka
Amaka
8 years ago

Fantastic post, I have been natural six years and in the beginning , I applied a lot of heat to my hair in the name of achieving the straight look, but I didn’t do my homework, and I got heat damage so i completely banished heat from my styling regime for a few years , I succumbed again this year but with much better results, I have to say ‚it’s all about using heat protectant„ the right styling tools that work best for your hair and wrapping it well at night , thanks shondra for the grapeseed oil recommendation by… Read more »

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