To Straighten or Not To Straighten?

Illustrated By Jacqueline Davis Moranti

Every once in a while, I want to show off a new look because let’s face it: the shrinkage is real and wash and go's get boring. However, straightening my natural hair has always been a touchy subject since putting any sort of heat on it is usually a major no-no. I've experienced heat damage before, where a few of my curls wouldn't curl like the rest. I eventually trimmed it off but it was a learning lesson in what my hair could and could not take. Preventing heat damage and growing healthy hair is a big reason many women transition their tresses to natural, myself included.

As someone who has worn her hair mostly straight throughout my childhood, it feels great to rock my kinky hair in all it's natural glory. I feel a new found confidence! There is always the longstanding debate about whether straight hair is inherently "better," especially in communities of color. You don't even want to know the reactions I get when I walk into a salon and request a blow out!

Politics aside, 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. Here are a few of my best tips to straightening your kinky crown....

Photo C/O Derrick Hogue

After washing, conditioning and my favorite- detangling, I always make sure to apply a heat protectant to prep my strands for the heat that will ensue. Lately, I've been loving Design Essentials Silk Serum, it's lightweight with a subtle fragrance and helps withstand the humidity. 

I never use a flat iron to straighten, I understand that some women prefer to use that tool, just make sure you're adjusting it to the right settings that won;t damage your strands. I'm obsessed with the Revlon Hair Dryer Brush. It looks like a regular paddle brush but it also has a built in dryer which makes for an easier time straightening, less arm pain! I use it in the low setting which straightens nicely, I don't usually go for a silkened look but the high speed setting will help me with that. 

For more added volume and overall bounciness, I'll take a blow dryer and round bristle brush to my roots since that is where it will kink up the most. 

Regardless of how I straighten my hair, I always make sure to wrap my hair with a satin or silk scarf before going to bed. I use neutral colored silk scarfs as to not annoy my SO! This method helps me to protect my newly smoothed strands from any friction while sleeping (can cause it to curl back up). I'll also use less products when my hair is straightened to not cause product build up but I will use some edge control to smoothen my baby hairs and the occasional dry shampoo if I start to feel oily. 

Another thing to consider: Depending on your hair texture, the products and tools you use, and whatever the weather may be doing at the moment (hello, summer frizz), a method that works well for your friend might not be right for you. Everyone’s hair is different so experiment with the hair tools outlined above to find what works best for your hair. Natural hair is trial and error! Dear readers, how do you straighten without damaging your hair?

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Thanks for the sweet whispers! XO