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?