Relaxing your hair is a very damaging, chemical process. The harsh chemicals that straighten your hair, reduce your curls by breaking down the hair strand and chemically altering the texture. Well, I have good news for you, a really good flat iron can get your hair JUST as straight as a relaxer gives you the option to wear your hair straight whenever the mood strikes.
African American hair is very stubborn and extremely porous and needs to be handled with care. It is not as resilient as coarse textured hair and lacks moisture, making it very sensitive to extreme heat. Therefor, it is essential that your use a straightener that is gentle on the hair and feature advanced technologies.
Before Your Straighten:
Give Your Hair a Break
Time will heal all. If your hair is in a bad state, then you may need to back off of all styling for awhile. There are many different options such as letting it be curly, adding soft braids, a scarf, a hat, a head band etc. If your feeling a bit “blah” about your hair, try to take the attention away from your hair, by applying really cool makeup, or add some really flashy jewelry to your look.
Moisturize, Hydrate & Condition
Your hair NEEDS moisture in a bad way! I highly recommend that you do a lot of deep conditioning treatments and try your best to shampoo no more than 2 times a week. If you need to get your hair wet, only condition. I have also found that hot oil treatments work great, See our Olive Oil Hair Treatment. Also, a product called It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product is a great treatment for damaged hair. The whole product line works wonders for all hair types.
Be Very Gentle
For a while, you have to be very careful when dealing with your hair. Don’t apply extreme heat when blow drying your hair or pull to hard when braiding, brushing or combing your hair. If possible I would avoid any braiding or blow drying for a little bit.
Steps When Straightening Your Hair
Make Sure Your Hair Is Clean
When flat ironing any hair it should be clean. This removes old product from the hair, increases the straighteners effectiveness and extends the life of your style. There are a few different ways to prep your hair before straightening. You can wash it the night before and wrap it, wash it the day of and let dry naturally till it’s 80% dry and then use a hair dryer the rest of the way or you can dry it completely with the dryer.
Use the Correct Products
Make sure that you are not using to many oil based products before straightening. These products give the illusion of softer, shinier hair but in reality, after a few uses, it will begin frying your hairs cuticle. Also, your must use a thermal protectant before applying extreme heat to your hair. A good analogy is you would never grab a hot pan out of the oven with out an oven mitt. So why would you treat your hair any different. Thermal protectants, eliminate heat related damage, by creating a barrier between the heat and the hair shaft. But remember, just because you apply a protectant, doesn’t mean that you can use higher heat.
Only Flat Iron Dry Hair
What ever your do, don’t straighten your hair until it is completely dry. Straightening damp hair reduces the irons effectiveness, dries hair out and causes damage, as well as prevents your from achieving the super straight results you want.
Use the Right Temperature
Most flat irons reach up to 450 degrees, that doesn’t mean you need to use that temp all over your hair. The more curly the hair, the higher the temp required to straighten, so adjust the irons temperature accordingly. For example, the crown area may curlier than the sides. If this is the case, use a higher heat on the crown and a lower temperature on the sides.
Straighten Small Sections
By taking small sections your reduce the contact time with your hair. Separate a slice of hair approximately 1/8th of an inch thick and no wider than the heating plates of the flat iron. Pass the hair through the flat iron by sliding it down the length of the hair in a smooth, fluid motion. Work your way from the bottom of the head upward and remember to keep your working segments consistent in order to ensure even results.
Make it Last
You should be able to keep your hair straight for at least three days, if not more. Try wrapping your hair at night or laying it on a satin scarf to prolong the style.