Every once in a while, those of us who normally rock our curls want to show off a new look (because let’s face it: shrinkage is very real). However, straightening natural hair has always been a touchy subject since putting any sort of heat on it is usually a major no-no. In fact, it’s a big reason why many people have made the transition to go natural (so they can prevent heat damage and keep their strands healthy).
It also sparked a longstanding debate about whether straight hair is inherently "better." Politics aside, we say you're allowed to showcase your gorgeous kinky curls and rock straight styles, because there's no shame in switching it up (at the end of the day, it’s your hair). Whatever look you choose, just make sure you're tracking the health of your hair and understanding what works best to avoid damage in the long run.
What are the best methods to straighten natural hair?
Before picking an option and applying heat, make sure you prep your hair. Start by washing your hair thoroughly with shampoo and conditioner to make the straightening process easier. (Tip: Use a deep conditioner or treatment if you’re prone to dryness. Moisture is key to a smoother finish.)
Once your hair is clean, apply a nickel-size amount of heat protectant (we like TRESemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray, HSI Professional Argan Oil Heat Protector or Brigeo Farewell Frizz Blow Dry Perfection Heat Protectant Creme) through the damp strands. Whether you prefer serums, sprays or creams, it’s important not to skip this step as it prepares your hair for the heat and prevents future damage or frizz. It also keeps your hair shiny and soft (and who doesn’t want that?).
Now that your hair is ready, you can decide which option works best for you.
When purchasing a flatiron, look for one with customizable settings. You want to keep your iron at the lowest setting required to straighten your hair (most irons go up to 450 degrees, but reaching for at least 360 degrees is beneficial). Flatirons like Babylisspro Nano Titanium Ultra-Thin Straightening Iron, HSI Professional Glider Ceramic Tourmaline Ionic Flat Iron, and CHI Tourmaline Ceramic Hairstyling Iron all have a wide range of settings and make it easier to be in control.
How to flatiron your hair:
- Heat up your iron, start sectioning off your hair and apply your protectant product.
- Grab a section and clamp the hair tool as close to the root as you can and gently glide it down the mid-lengths and ends. (Option to use a fine-toothed comb with the iron to get a sleeker look.)
- Go over each section once or twice more. If you hear sizzling or smell something burning, you probably want to dial the heat down a bit before resuming.
- After you’ve straightened every section, finish the look with a hydrating serum or humidity-resistant gel like Ouidad Advanced Climate Control Heat & Humidity Gel, DevaCurl Frizz Free Volumizing Foam or It’s A 10 Miracle Leave-In Plus Keratin to keep the flyaways at bay and prevent frizz from forming.
It’s important to note that if your hair is already pretty damaged to start, the flatiron might not be the best choice.