Straightening and Natural Hair

So, these past few years, I’ve really been trying to learn more about heat straightening natural hair as it’s something that is important to, in the least, understand. Now, you may go to a professional and that’s ok, but just because someone charges for a service and can lay down some hair, that does not mean a) they know what they are doing and b) they won’t leave you crying for days, weeks and years to come.  

There should be at least some minimal understanding on how heat and natural hair works. The reason I say natural is because we are talking about preserving a curl pattern. 

Now, I’m not an expert, but I lurk (hard) via forums, blogs, YouTube, research, talking to others, seeing others mistakes (even when they don’t) and even listening to stylists to really see what the common denominators are when it comes to heat and preserving the [curl] integrity of natural hair. 

Here are some things I picked up:

Hair type: Know it. I hate hair typing, but in an instance like this, it really helps to know. Why? Think about it. The tighter the pattern, the more heat you’ll need. Now, I’m not talking about porosity; what is your actual curl pattern. I know four type 4c/z hair types and all of them tell me the same thing after using heat: they suffer a lot heat damage. People I know with around my pattern have an easier time getting straight hair with better reversion, but why is that? The tighter the pattern, I’ve noticed the more manipulation and heat it takes to physically straighten the hair before you even get an iron to it. It’s not fair, but it is the way of the hair. I’ve met so many 4c/z’s with heat damage because they need so much heat and this hair type truly needs a professional with RESULTS. Or you better hit YouTube University. Or have a friend who knows what they are doing. Because when it comes to heat damage, there are only two solutions, both ending in scissors. 

Cleansing: When you use heat, always have clean hair. A stylist told me that build-up on the hair will affect your results. Noted! I usually clarify, but since most women (myself included) associate it with “clean” hair and not clean hair, some are skeptical. I usually clarify once and let it sit for 3 minutes, or wash twice with a regular shampoo. 

Deep Condition: All relations to protein will be in terms of deep conditioning in this section only. Now, while you shouldn’t skip this on a regular day, for heat you should attempt to go close to HAM on this. Now, for some, protein is important, but the more I learn, the more I learn it really isn’t (when using heat in this step). Now, I still use a little protein when I do my own straightening, but my best results are when I don’t use protein. The hair lays down better, though you do get better volume with protein. Moisture is important because heat is associated with moisture lost. When it’s 90 degrees out, what do these advisories warn about? Dehydration. They don’t say “It’s going to be hot, eat a pastrami sandwich!” No, they tell you to keep hydrated. Get a good deep conditioner. Preferably one for color treated hair. And if you use protein, don’t use a hard treatment. No more than a 3-minute treatment. 

Products: I like to use the same product to blow dry and iron. Consistency. And I limit it to two. This is when I use a little protein. A leave-in protein. I get straighter results with good volume and I get a boost on the heat protectant. Someone told me they use 6 proteins in six different products when they use heat. But then you complain you don’t like the results? That’s too much product. If your hair is prone to damage, it’s probably other steps that aid to it. But just in case, you should always research for a good heat protectant before using anything and always look at the hair type using it. Muy Importante. 

Blow dry: A) Try to use high heat. It will dry the hair faster. B) Start at the ends and work your way up. C) Once your hair is straight, stop! D) Once you see or smell smoke or burnt hair, you’ve gone too far. That’s why you stop when the hair is straight. E) You should be getting your hair straight enough for a heat pass, that’s it. F) Your hair should still have some volume in this step. Yes, it should still have VOLUME. Blow drying is a very important step. It’s the last step in preparing your hair for straightening. Less is more in this step but when you do more, the more it will cost you later. Blow drying will destroy your hair before an iron will, so this step must be used with caution. 

Flat Iron: Always make sure your iron is clean and clean throughout using. Apply a very small amount of heat protectant, if you wish, though I recommend it. The same you use in the step before. You don’t need a lot because it’s already on your hair and if you blow dry properly, you will be fine. Use a temperature that will get your hair as straight as you want. I use 430 but I don’t have any problems because I follow all the steps above. One heat pass! And go slow. If you need to go back over, do it when your done with your entire head. Let the section cool before you go over again. Iron the hair flat straight and then bump after the entire head is cool. I usually cut after ironing, that’s why I bump last. 

Hair Type: 4a/b 

Cleansing: Redken Cleansing Creme or Nexxus Therappe

Deep Conditioner: Nexxus Humectress, Keracare Humecto, Kerastase Mask Intense

Heat Protectants: CHI Keratin Mist and IC Fantasia Heat Straightening Spray 

Blow Dryer: Kiss Red Handleless Blow Dryer

Flat Iron: FHI Heat Tourmaline Ceramic Flat Iron

Do you have anything to add. Even advice. Please, let me know! 

One Day, It Will Happen

Tasia B. 

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9 thoughts on “Straightening and Natural Hair

    • You can use it but using too much will hinder the heat from working. I use protein, but I use a leave-in and just that one time. When I use a lot of protein, and from what I noticed with others, the style won’t last and reverts quickly. How much are you using?

      • I notice when I use protein as part of deep conditioning, my hair feels dry after it’s straightened compared to when I use moisture deep conditioning. You are right about not using so much protein.

      • I noticed the same thing. When I went to a stylist, she never used protein and my hair would feel nice. But me being paranoid, I would use a lot and my hair would dry out bad. Thanks!

  1. Great post. I have been so terrified with heat, I have just kept away from it all together. But I am hoping to get my last relaxed ends removed by a stylist and use some heat to style and finish, so will make sure I man myself with all these useful tips.

    • Good luck. I’m still terrified with heat so I still limit its use. I’m currently doing every 3 months but I’m going to stretch since my ends are faring well.

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