And I like it!! That’s right, I said it. I’ve been natural for 15 years, big chopped twice, and have nothing to prove. I love my natural curls. However, right now, I love the convenience and ease of straight hair a lot more! And, sometimes, that’s really all there is to it.
Anywho, with the arrival of the cooler and dryer air of autumn, it seemed timely for a straight hair post. So I’m about to share why I began straightening my hair regularly and how I have managed to do so for the majority of the last year without suffering heat damage (the latter of which always seems to be the mythical unicorn of the natural world ;)).
Anywho, I started straightening my hair around the 5th month of my pregnancy last year. When I realized that I could get at least 4 weeks out of straightened hair (sometimes 6), it was a no brainer given my increasing ungainliness and fatigue. When I had Wyntr in January, it again made sense as taking care of a newborn is two full-time jobs and I needed to give up my part-time (i.e. my hair on wash day). Then, as I was coming up on 3 months post-partum, I decided to straighten as a preemptive move to combat the threat of post-partum shedding. I figured that it would allow me to comb my hair between wash days in order to get rid of excessive shedding, making detangling easier when I did get around to washing it.
That’s the why. Following is the how. But first, two caveats. Number one: I do not care about having perfect hair 24/7. I don’t aim for bone straight hair and I live in a bun 99% of the time (Hello!! 8 month old!!). So, if you are looking for advice on keeping your natural hair straight and “laid” without heat damage … ummm … this may not be for you. Number two: I don’t have scalp issues, so I can easily go 4 weeks between wash days without excessive scalp build up/flakes.
PREPARE & PROTECT, PROCESS, PRESERVE
Following are the steps I take and my products of choice. I don’t straighten my hair any more often than once every four weeks and if I can stretch it longer, I do.
PREPARE & PROTECT:
- Pre-poo to moisturize (virgin coconut oil mixed with Aubrey Organics GPB and/or Honeysuckle Rose)
- Clarify to start with a clean base (Kinky Curly Come Clean Shampoo)
- Protein treat to strengthen (Sally’s GVP Joico K-Pak)
- Deep Condition to moisturize (Sally’s GVP Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm)
- Apply a leave-in* conditioner (small amount of Kinky Curly Knot Today mixed with aloe vera juice)
- Apply a heat Protectant* (Herbal Essences Tea-Lightfully Clean Blow Dry Prep Mist)
*Note: I’ve found that it’s very important to use a leave-in and heat protectant that are light and don’t leave my hair tacky. This allows my hair to glide/flow once straighten and reduces the amount of lint and dust that it attracts.
- Choose one or the other (this controls the amount of heat used on the hair):
- Blow-out slightly damp hair OR
- Air dry hair stretched (in 2-4 braids) and flat-iron (usually dry one day and flat-iron the next.
- If blowing-out:
- Use a quality tool (Conair Infiniti Pro 3 in 1 Styler with double comb attachment)
- If flat-ironing:
- Use a quality tool with temperature control (BaByliss Nano Titanium Pro)
- Use lower temperatures (280-320º max)
- Take small 1″ sections
- Gently comb section well using a medium to fine tooth comb
- Two to three passes of the flat-iron on each section max
- Seal/Shine (Shea Moisture Raw Shea Reconstructor Elixir and/or Sally’s GVP Paul Mitchell Skinny Serum)
- Never re-apply heat between washes (that’s a surefire way to cause heat damage).
- Use heat free styling techniques between wash days: braids, buns, rollersets, curlformers, flexirods, pin curls, etc.
- Bun, braid, pineapple, or pin-curl hair at night.
- Use a satin bonnet or scarf and sleep on a satin pillowcase.
- Use an edge control paste/gel (Ampro Protein Gel mixed with moisturizer – IKR??? Who knew?!; Curls Blueberry Bliss)
- Use a terry-lined shower cap.
- Forget the umbrella for the rain, use a raincoat with drawstring hood.
- Apply a light moisturizer that doesn’t cause reversion, as needed (Wonder Curl Get Slick Hair Smoothie; Carol’s Daughter Healthy Hair Butter).**
- Apply a light oil as needed to seal moisture/add shine (Shea Moisture Raw Shea Reconstructor Elixir and/or Sally’s GVP Paul Mitchell Skinny Serum).**
- Oil scalp, as needed (Wild Growth Hair Oil).*
- Exercise with hair bunned and use an open-ended wig cap under a sweatband. (I’ll admit, I haven’t worked out with any type of consistency since the baby and my work-outs have been moderate in intensity. But, thus far, this has worked for me.)
**Note: Again, it is important to use a light moisturizer and oil for maintenance to avoid tacky hair that attracts lint and dust. By reducing the amount of dirt the hair attracts, straight hair can be maintained for longer.
Finally, I do take a break between straight cycles sometimes with a stretched braid-out, twist-out, and even a WnG once! I also henna or henna gloss when I can. And those are my tips! Hope they help!
(p.s. My hair is the longest that it’s ever been and the fullest it’s been in a long time following this regimen.)
Are you a straight-hair natural? What are your tips of the trade?
Thank you for posting this. I went back to perms because it’s easier for me. I have 3 kids (all have autism, all have various therapies I need to get them too) and a full time job (FDNY Paramedic working an 11pm to 7am shift). I only perm my hair 3 to 4 times a year and this was after being natural for 8 yrs. I’m going to try the method that you used. I have no desire for my hair to be bone straight, just straight enough to be manageable.
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I wore mines straight last week. I can usually get about 10 days straight before I need to wash it. My scalp doesn’t get flaky, but it does get itchy. I have an almost compulsive need to wash my hair. So I’ll never go more than 10 days. When wearing it natural I’ll wash it on Sunday (shampoo) and cowash it mid week. I shed a lot more when I don’t wash it regularly as well. Not sure why. Anyway, this wasn’t supposed to be about me. What I wanted to say was, your hair is beautiful. I understand the need to make life easier when dealing with a baby. I cut my hair really short after having my son because I just couldn’t deal with it (I was permed back then). Take care of that beautiful baby, and continue to baby your hair. No matter your styling choice, I think your hair is beautiful.
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Thanks so much for posting this. I’ve been considering doing this over the winter if nothing else.
I’ve been trying to come up with a good way to get my hair semi straight to wear in buns or one or two braids/twists. Thanks for this post. I guess I’m going to have to break down and either blow dry or flat iron. I sometimes do a roller set to stretch my hair but it takes forever to dry. I also just stretch my hair with braids, which is what I’ve been doing all summer abd it works, but with winter coming upon us I need not go out with wet hair.
Thanks Shelly. I have not retained as much length as I could because I was doing year round wash and gos. Recently I caught a bad cold air drying a wash and go so I need a change for the winter. this post is helpful because it gives an example of products to use (although they may not work for me- its a good benchmark). I can go a month without washing in the winter and have successfully pulled it off…bunning the last week and not straightening back to back. I will likely try this straight style during the holidays as I like to wear my hair straight. Thanks again.
i loved this post! i’m flat ironed right now and having such an easy time of styling. i’ll be five years in april and really considering being straight the majority of the time. my one worry is my three year old daughter. she loves that my hair is kinky like hers and we are often hair twins. i hope she would know mommy still loves her curls although I’d be wearing it straight.
Thanks so much for sharing Shelli!!! I was so looking forward to reading this post!
Okay, (raises hand)…, They call me Tee, and I AM a straight-haired natural. The why goes back YEARS BEFORE “going natural” was a THING, back to when I was a simple girl from Jerzee who happened to have un-chemically touched hair that fell bra-length/so, and our salons WASN’T feeling me AT ALL! I’d been threatened w/a tub of Dark & Lovely, the dreaded jheri curl, and ERRTHANG ELSE….enter the dragon, I mean, blow dryer…., apropos bc it WAS the 80’s, Pam Grier, Farrah Fawcett, and Jayne Kennedy were ALL hair-icons, and ERRBODY wanted hair like THEM! I digress, though, bc all I was really armed w/besides the handheld dragon was Sulfur 8 in the light blue jar (cause Mama said the yellow was TOO HEAVY – lol), and my dreams! I started then, basically washed every 5-6 weeks, and the hair grew like crazy!!! Now that I’m 3 years natural w/NO CLUE on how to make a WnG work for me, & twist out results that have always left me feeling EH after a few days, I am BACKKKKKKK!!!! I have a similar regime to yours, just different products, and it’s been my (dey trying to make it shameful, but it AIN’T) secret bc some naturals INSIST my hair isn’t healthy bc of the infrequent washing (I don’t and never have had scalp issues – must be dat East Coast Wah-duhhh), and application of heat (no heat damage either & to do it au naturale, it simply takes a wash)! So – I’m glad to see my Hair SHE-ro TOOTING this all too familiar horn! I do it summer/fall/spring/WHATEV cause it WORKS, and allows me to DO ME w/ease! I too do NOT reapply heat in between my washes, and lemme spread the word on my NEWEST GO TO for straight hair naturals – – – – courtesy of MO KNOWS HAIR – – –
I have reverted (no not THAT way – lol) to what USED to be done on my relaxed hair in my opinion – a doobie which Mo calls a silk-roller wrap. To me, it’s less product, more a technique thing bc I don’t use all that she lists in her vid (check her youtube vid if interested @https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZIlUgFXUUU), but after using my shampoo, condish, YOUR GOAT’S MILK DC w/your recommended cool & seal technique (I now add-in Darcy’s Pumpkin cause GURLLLLLLL it IS da TRUUUUUF, just like YOU SAID IT WAS), then add my straightening balm, heat protector, then do as she does by rolling my hair on the larger magnetic rollers, hood dry that, add a few drops of CHI all over, then I do what I believe does the DO – she recommends you wrap your hair around your head, then wrap that in saran wrap, hood it again for 10-12 min, add a few more drops of CHI once I take the saran off, then I pass ONCE w/my flat iron, and GURLLLLLLLLL – It is the BUSINESSSS! It is BOUNCY, comes out CRAZY straight (my hair has always gone beyond the norm whenever heat is applied – it gets super straight, but this saran stuff makes it SILKY), responds to bunning to create beach waves easily, RESISTS reversion when sweating or in the weather, and all it takes if I DO notice a lil wave or new-growth emerging is to apply a lil of my fav oil mix, wrap that up for a bit, and I am good to go again! It has lasted for 5.5 weeks thus far, only requires the addition of oil (and sometimes I actually wet my hands w/distilled water, and run my fingers thru my hair before sealing and wrapping it up for the night), and grown 3/4″ in that time, so I am CONVINCED it is a protective style for me!
**** Oh – and I tried the new Decadence No-Poo & condish by Devacurl this past w/end, and I LUVVVVVVV it – more moisture INDEED! And my OTHER holy grail is to use their DevaCurl Heaven in Hair Intense Moisture Treatment as my no-protein DC on henna weekends – IT IS THE BOMBBBBBBBBBBBBBB!!!! I know – this is a LONGGGGG post, but you’ve been gone a bit from the blog – I get it – You trying to make us all get IG, especially if we get to see Wyntr periodically that way, Happy curls/waves/straights Girlie!
Can you explain your doobie/silk wrap process? I am not very good with magnetic rollers. Can this be achieved with flexirods or curlformers? Ideally I would like to do MoKnowsHair process but with curl formers instead….
I don’t like magnetic rollers either, & though I’ve never done it, Mo does say you can use flexirods, so I believe curlformers would work too bc you’re basically just trying to stretch the hair before the wrap process. Again, the video link above to MoKnows explains it all in detail. Now as I said, to me it’s more about her technique, so use your shampoo/condish like normal, being sure to deep condition (DC) your hair using Shelli’s recommended cool & seal technique (https://hairscapades.com/2011/08/31/deep-conditioning-tricks-cool-seal/), then apply your choice of straightening balm/heat protector. If you use magnetics, part your hair mohawk style so it’s less width than the magnetic rollers you choose (Mo recommends you be able to do a few revolutions so it will stretch better), roll against the grain of your hair, hood dry (mine takes about 1.5 hrs), then I add (Mo’s recommendation) a few drops of CHI to rub all over your hair, wrap your hair around your head, apply a few more drops of CHI by swirling your hands around the outside of your wrapped hair, then wrap the whole thing in saran wrap (be sure to close the top), go under the hood again for 10-12 min, take the wrap off, then use your flat iron to finish the style doing one pass on small pieces. It comes out beautiful & lasts!
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Wahoo! I’ve been waiting for this post! I’m especially appreciative as I am approaching my 5th month of pregnancy with my first child. I haven’t effectively done anything with my hair since the 1st trimester fatigue and my hair has suffered for it. I’m hoping I can copy this in order to preserve my poor neglected strands. Thanks a bunch for sharing!!!
This was very informative! I am a transitioning natural going on four years now and my hair is so much longer (front-collar bone, back-pass bra strap). Ive always wanted info on how to straighten my hair and keep it up. The bun styles that you provided were all so pretty and very needed as I have a 7 month old!
Yeah to updates! Since I first read this post, I decided to tension blow and see how long it would last. So while I don’t flat iron, (and am not brave to do so for myself), I’m going to experiment with this method and incorporate protective styles. So far, it’s been decent.
Hmmm I might have to give this a try. Shelli did you find that you had to “train” your hair to last 4 weeks? I’m trying to figure out if I need to keep at it to see better results.
Thank you!! Sorry for the super delayed response. In my opinion, heat training means heat damage. The hair doesn’t revert because the natural texture has been damaged. Therefore, no, I don’t believe that my hair is “trained.” I just think that the various techniques that I use, as outlined above, allow me to keep my hair relatively straight for longer periods of time.
I think what you mean is did she train her scalp, and as a straight hair natural all year long I will say that I can last 4 to 6 weeks based on several factors. It really depends on your scalp. If I sweat to much I can only last about 3 weeks, sometime a little jojoba oil/peppermint oil on my scalp will soothe the itches. No sweating, 5 to 6 weeks. Although I was thinking about trying that dry shampoo stuff to soak up sweaty oils on my scalp.
Thanks for this detailed post! Your hair is beautiful!
I’m late, but wanted to know if you rralize that Sally’s has discontinued the GVP joico k-pak. 😦
I went to one today and called another. I ended up splurging and getting the real Joico K-pak at another pharmacy , as I had used it before.
What other protein treatments have you used and regard highly?
Thank you! Yes, I was suspecting that it was discontinued as I haven’t been able to find it anywhere, including online. Sad face. I also like Aubrey organics GPB. That has been A very good protein conditioner for me.
I am also a straight hair natural, it seems like there are so few of us! I was glad to see your post. I agree that the keys are to start with a clean base, deep condition, apply a leave in conditioner, heat protectant (I air dry 90% and then blow dry) and flat iron. I never reapply heat during my straight stretch. I let my hair rest for at least 2 weeks (Lots of conditioning washes) before I re-straighten.
Now you KNOW a SISTA don’t do IG, so I’m hoping you’ll get a notification and see this RE: your IG post on Prince….
~ FIRST OF ALL – MY BABY (Prince Rogers Nelson, whom I tried for years to stalk while I was MANY years his junior & find a way from NJ to MM to marry and have REALLY short yet GORG & musically gifted children with while we spent our lives writing 💣 music… — but I digress….), ain’t throw NO-BAH-TEE into no lake! 😬 – Takes breath & REFOCUSES –
~ SECOND – Appie (yes, I REFUSE to spell out my former rivals’ name) stripped down and ran into the lake while MY BABY was trying to tell her fast tail “That ain’t Lake Minnetonka!”
FINAL THOUGHT ~ Soooooo – Let the record show His Purple Royalness IS BLAMELESS for the lake incident, and he shall NEVAHHHHH be replaced!!!
Wow. Nice pics. I’m going to experiment with this method and incorporate protective styles right now 😀
Hey ladies have you heard of B-ty Institute where you can discover the art of natural hair care? B-ty Institute is a school of natural hair care where you can obtain your Natural Hair Care license, but it is also open to the public for services at a low cost. My friend and I discovered it last weekend and got our hair done by the students and it looks better than most salons that I have been to. Check it out for yourself at http://www.goBTY.com or you can call them at (877) 776-7770
Thank you for sharing. I’ve been natural for 6 years and have grown tired of failed twist/braid outs. I have been looking for a straight hair routine and will try this out. My hair seems to be at a standstill and my edges can’t handle anymore weaves/wigs
I appreciate you sharing your routine. Do you still use Aubry Organic GPB? The recent reviews online say the formula has changed.
I haven’t used it in quite a while … maybe a little over a year? I do have a couple bottles though and I read they changed the formula a couple of years ago too. I can’t remember if I noticed a huge difference in how they work, but know the instructions changed. It used to say to use before you shampoo and then it changed to after, if I remember correctly.
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I have naturally curly hair but I am very fond of straight hair. but I couldn’t have it due to being scared of damaging my hair. but sometimes I use straight lace front wigs to get straight hair which gives me a naturally and stunning look.
Wow, this is such a great way to achieve straight hair without heat. Can this be applied on curly virgin hair extensions?. to make it straight.
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