Who Says Straight Hair Can’t Be Big and Full?
by GG Renee Hill, The Write Curl Diary
I’ve got everyone fooled. Now that I’m natural, people often tell me how thick my hair is. This was not the case when I was relaxed. I always dreaded the first month or so after a relaxer because my hair would get so flat and lifeless.
You see, the strands of my hair are actually rather thin. I just happen to have a whole heck of a lot of those thin strands and it creates the illusion that my hair is really thick. Since I love big hair, I can really capitalize on this illusion now. If you have thin strands like me, you might think that the only way to achieve volume is to wear your hair curly. On the contrary, I’ve learned that straight and big do not have to be mutually exclusive. We can have the best of both worlds. Here are a few tricks to help you discover this for yourself.
Allow your hair to air-dry for a while first
When I’m done washing and conditioning, I immediately apply grapeseed oil (heat protectant), section the hair and put it in a few loose twists to air dry for a while. Make sure that each section is thoroughly detangled. Another alternative is to sit under a hooded dryer for a while. I find that this makes my hair feel softer, as well. I prefer not to start blow-drying until my hair is about 80% dry.
Use the Tension Method to blow dry your hair.
This is done by holding a section of damp hair by the end and pulling it taut while using a blow dryer. Concentrate on the root and work your way up to the ends. This will stretch the length of the hair without completely flattening it. I use a wide-toothed comb and set the blow dryer on the medium setting. Some prefer to finger-comb or use the cool setting. Experiment to determine what works best for you, keeping in mind that the less heat, the better.
Don’t flatten the life out of your hair.
Whether you use a flat iron or pressing comb, you don’t need to flatten all the texture out of your hair. This is the key to having straight AND full hair. I use a flat iron that has a curved metal plate on one side and a brush on the other. I take small sections — about 2 inches — and run the iron through it two or three times max. I allow some extra time on my ends because they usually take the longest to get smoothed out. I recommend applying some extra protectant to the ends at this point.
Pin curl or roller set instead of wrapping.
As I finish flat-ironing each section, I put in a roller and the size is determined by the style I’m trying to achieve. I usually use wire mesh rollers with end papers. Section by section, I flat iron, then put in the roller. It’s really important to not make the sections too big because you won’t get a good curl this way. Once I’m done, I put on a bonnet and go to bed. In the morning, I take down the rollers and have bouncy, lasting curls — and there’s still a certain bigness to my hair that would not have been there had I blown it out and flat-ironed it bone straight. To maintain this look for several days, I simply pin-curl it at night and tie it down with a scarf, applying oil or gloss as needed.
Keep your ends trimmed.
If you plan on wearing your hair straight for a while, it’s best to get it professionally trimmed so that it has a nice shape to it. It’s inevitable that you will encounter some frizz and poofiness, but if your hair is shaped right, the look will still be flattering.
Find one or two staple products for heat styling and don’t overload.
When wearing your hair straight, the last thing you want is to have 10 different products in your hair. Be sure to layer the moisture into every step of your process, starting with shampooing and conditioning. Then keep it simple with a light moisturizer and heat protectant, but be generous with your ends. It’s likely that they’ll need some extra love. Keep them moisturized and sealed, and try to minimize how much you comb and brush your hair — relying primarily on your fingers and seamless wide-tooth combs so that you are not over-manipulating it.
As always, depending on your hair texture and circumstances, you will need to experiment to find out what works best for you. If you’re like me and like to wear your hair straight without sacrificing volume, then be encouraged that it can be done! If you’re currently relaxed and are unhappy with the flatness of your hair, then going natural may be a way for you to achieve fuller, thicker, flowing hair.
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