Let’s face it—there is no “healthy” way to straighten your hair with heat. Heat is not good for your hair, and each time you straighten, you risk damaging you strands. However, if you’re like me, you love variety and changing your look, so heat becomes a kind of necessary evil, and there are several things that you can do in order to minimize damage and avoid splits and breakage: Make sure you clarify and your hair is clean before using heat. If you flat iron dirty hair, you are simply pressing old dirt and oils into your hair, which can potentially damage your cuticle.
Make sure you clarify and your hair is clean before using heat. If you flat iron dirty hair, you are simply pressing old dirt and oils into your hair, which can potentially damage your cuticle.
Use a deep conditioner that has a bit of protein before you use heat on your hair—the protein will coat your strands and act as a protectant, and the extra moisture will protect against dryness. I also usually use a deep conditioner with silicones before I straighten, because silicones have low thermal conductivity and act as a barrier on the hair.
Always use a heat protectant when you straighten! Whether you decide to use oil with a high smoke point or a silicone-based protectant, you need to coat your strands to minimize damage. This is actually a good time to consider using mineral oil. If you’re looking for a commercial product, Carol’s Daughter’s Chocolät Smoothing Blow Dry Cream is great because it contains dimethicone and proteins; I use this before I blow dry my hair. It’s also not heavy—applying too much product before blow-drying will make your hair stiff.
Now it’s time for the actual heat (blow-dry, or you could let your hair air-dry and go straight to ironing). Make sure you have an idea of how much heat your hair can handle. If you have finer hair, you may want to try a lower temperature or setting, as finer strands are usually more fragile. Also, it is said that the protein in your hair begins to melt at temperatures above 420 Fahrenheit, so keep your flat iron at 400 or below if possible.
Onlyuse clean tools! Gunk on your flat iron increases friction on your strands and contributes to breakage and splitting. Wipe your iron after every use—there is nothing worse than a dirty flat iron!
When flat-ironing, try to get your hair straight with as few passes as possible. The comb chase method (combing through your hair while immediately following with your flat iron) has been extremely beneficial to me to achieve straight hair with one pass.
Try not to reuse heat once you have flat ironed. Smooth your hair with a wrap or putting it in a bun if needed.
When it’s time to wash your hair, always use a protein treatment to rebuild and strengthen your tresses. If you’re natural, this should help perk up your curls.
Lastly, and most importantly, do not overuse heat! There are many non-heat styles that can be done on natural and relaxed hair—be sure to alternate these with heat styles so you are not a frequent heat user. Remember, heat damage builds over time, and you don’t want to damage your hair so badly that you need a drastic cut. Good luck and happy straightening!
Carol’s Daughter knows that transitioning isn’t easy—that’s why the brand has founded TransitioningMovement.com, a site dedicated to providing the resources that women need to embrace their natural hair. This definitive online source on how to transition was founded on the idea that every woman should celebrate her own unique beauty. As women transition from relaxed to natural hair with protective styles, the big chop or long or curly grow-outs, we aim to support them as they brave the change with fun, informative and helpful features. Let’s get back to the basics of natural beauty.