Regardless of curl pattern or hair texture, heat damage is a real thing. But when it comes to curly hair, the risks involved with straightening are even higher. That's why, seeking out a professional or knowing how to straighten natural hair properly yourself is imperative to maintaining your coils while switching up your styles.
"Natural hair is more sensitive to heat because of the hair strand structure," Christin Brown, curl specialist says. "There are tons of bending and twisting that naturally happen in natural hair, which makes it more prone to breakage. Applying extreme heat can dramatically compromise the hair structure, thus damaging it." Brown notes that once that curl pattern has been severely compromised, there's a strong possibility that the natural pattern will not return. In that case, restoring the curl can only be done by ultimately cutting the dead pieces of hair off either through a big chop or through gradual trims.
TZR is here to make sure that doesn't have to happen. And according to the experts, it's completely avoidable if you move with some extra caution. So ahead, check out the tips to silky-straight hair that won't lead to a compromised curl pattern.
How To Straighten Natural Hair: Don't Overdo It
Brown says that when straightening curly hair, it's important to not overheat and burn the hair. It can be tempting to turn that flat iron all the way up, but don't. "It sounds simple enough but it's actually extremely easy to do," she says. "Keep a lower heat when using a flat iron or pressing comb and try not to repeatedly straighten the same zone multiple times." She insists that avoiding taking heat to the same part of the hair is important in avoiding heat damage.
The second most crucial rule is proper preparation of the hair. Make sure to use a hair styling product that offers thermal protection. For Brown, she enlists a lightweight hair oil that offers heat protection for up to 450 degrees for best results. (Olaplex's Bonding Oil is a great option.) This ensures that the hair is protected from direct heat while also lessening the risk of the straightened hair being weighed down or greasy due to heavy product.
How To Straighten Natural Hair: Beware Of Blow Dryers
Newsflash: blow drying can be damaging to natural hair as well. "Aim to use a heat protectant on the hair prior to service with a blow dryer," Brown says. "There are different ways to blow dry hair especially when it comes to textures. For extra curly hair, perhaps doing a rough blow dry with a paddle brush at first is best and then you can do a quick pass with a flat iron. This little tension during the blow dry session will truly help in not adding any additional stress on the hair.
How To Straighten Natural Hair: Avoid Unnecessary Heat
It can be tempting to reapply heat in-between washes. However, doing so frequently will put you at greater risk of damaging your natural hair. To avoid needing constant touch-ups, properly wrap the hair at night, as well as those times you're not out and about. "When the hair is straight, depending on how much you sweat and how humid it is in your area, you may need to touch it up a few days later at home," Brown says. "In this case, try turning down the heat to something less hot for maintenance."
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