2. Use a Heat Protectant
If you want to use heat, the best way to guard your curls is to place a protective shield around each strand. You can achieve this with a silicone-based heat protectant.
You’ve probably heard tons of bad talk about silicones. It’s true that you shouldn’t use them regularly in your shampoos, conditioners, and styling products because they can place a hard shield around the shaft.
Silicones can make hair look shiny with the hardened layer on top, but if you use them too frequently, it will result in water not being able to reach the shaft.
However, using them once or twice every few months for heat protection won’t do much harm. In fact, they will help protect. You may need to use a clarifying shampoo to remove the cone, but this is still better than allowing the heat to touch your hair.
3. Use Blow Dryer instead of the Flat Iron
Blow drying is easier on the hair than flat ironing, and it makes sense if you really think about it. With blow drying, you are holding the heat a few inches away from your head.
With flat ironing, you are forcing the hair to sit between two hot ceramic or metal plates. Ouch! If it has the potential to burn your fingers, it’s also going to be hot for your hair.
So, if you have to choose between the blow-out and the silk press, go for the first option because it’s far less damaging.
If you must use a flat iron, choose one with less-damaging ceramic plates and get one with a digital temperature reader so you can set it to the precise degree.
4. Use Low Heat
When you’re flat ironing, you might be tempted to turn up the heat to make sure you get the most bang. After all, you only straighten your hair every once in a while, so you might as well crank the heat, right?
Truth is, if you turn up the heat too much, you can actually boil the water inside the cortex of your hair. This is a surefire way to damage your hair.
Don’t sacrifice your hard-earned efforts of growing healthy hair for short-term gratification. Yes, your hair will be smooth and straight for the week, but then you may end up paying for it for years to come!
Instead, keep the heat no higher than 450 (°F). An even better temperature would be 350 (°F). There are no guarantees you won’t get heat damage, but placing the iron at 350 (°F) will help you play it safe.
5. Only One Pass
Are you doing too many passes when you flat iron your hair? Passing over your hair more than once will cause it to become even hotter. It’s kind of like a skillet on the stove. The more time it spends being heated, the hotter it will become.
It’s the same with your hair. Sure, it’s nice to give it that final touch, but you could be causing more damage than it’s worth.
6. Focus on the After Care
Preventing damage extends to after you’ve already straightened. Why? Because that’s when the breakage can happen.
Blow drying and flat ironing can dry your hair out. So, your hair may look great for a week right after you straighten it, but then it can start to break as more weeks follow.
The top two ways to combat the damaging after-effect is to do deep conditioning and protein masks. These two treatments will put the moisture back into your hair and patch up any holes that happened as a result of straightening. The patch up session will serve to prevent breakage.
Plan on doing both the deep conditioning and the protein treatments the week before and the week after you do your straightening session.
Damage doesn’t automatically happen just because you’ve heated your hair. In fact, there are tons of straight-haired naturals in the world who have long, healthy hair.
If you follow the above steps and are very careful with your regimen, you can probably get away with straightening your hair more than a few times per year.
What are your favorite tips on straightening natural hair without damage?