Flat Ironing Natural Hair (without heat damage)

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Have you ever experienced a failed flat ironing session of your natural hair?

Well…I was the epitome of “flat-ironing your natural hair gone wrong” in my earlier natural years.

High heat, dirty hair, horrible products, dry hair. It was a mystery that I still had length back then. However, I have experience on several occasions heat damage before learning how to appropriately flat iron our natural hair texture without creating any damage. I am thankful I was the only guinea pig and learned the proper process before ever flat-ironing Z’s hair. Here is a breakdown on our flat-ironing process for our natural hair:

  • Wash hair and scalp. Flat-ironing works best on freshly cleaned hair rather than heating over dirty hair and old product.
  • Protein treat hair. This step is optional but recommended if you have not protein treated your hair in a while or simply want to strengthen your hair before applying heat. I usually use the Aphogee 2 Step Protein Treatment whenever I flat-iron our hair.

  • Deep condition. I strongly recommend this step regardless of the previous step. Adding heat is quite a process on our natural hair. Therefore, it is important that the hair has adequate moisture to withstand the heat application to reduce damage and breakage. Deep condition the hair from 5-25 minutes for best results.
  • Detangle the hair completely. I have been lazy before by half-detangling my hair. It is not a pretty result in the end. Taking your time to detangle your natural hair from the ends to the roots will give you much better flat-ironing results. Only use a wide-tooth comb or Denman brush in this step on preferably damp hair. Detangle in small sections and twist each finished section to prevent re-tangling.
  • Moisturize and seal the hair. This step should be in your routine regardless of which style is to follow. Oil is not a moisturizer so use either just water or a water-based leave-in/spritz to add moisture to your hair. Sealing with an oil or light cream will lock in that moisture for longer lasting results. Tip: Do not lay on too much product in this step or otherwise, you will have over greasy, limp, and lifeless flat-ironed hair. You can add a heat protectant if you wish. I do not and still have great results. Do NOT forget that heat protectant. It will save your hair from of heat damage!
  • Lightly blow dry your hair to give it a nice stretch. I implement the tension method to stretch our hair before applying more direct heat of the flat-iron. Check out this post about how to use the tension method. The more stretched the hair is in this step, the less passes needed for the next step to straighten your natural hair.
  • Flat-iron on lowest setting necessary. The smaller the sections, the straighter the hair. Starting from the nape of the head, run wide-tooth comb or Denman brush through once to ensure there are no tangles from the ends to roots. Pass the flat-iron slowly (but not stagnantly slow) through the section of hair. After the first pass, hold the hair until it cools some before releasing. Repeat for another two or three passes. After the third you find that your hair is not straightened enough, gradually increase the heat setting and test on another section of hair until you achieve your desired straightness. Make note of this setting for future session and continue to work in small sections until the entire head is completed.
  • Maintain. I do not super straighten my hair with the flat-iron so my hair is too thick to wrap overnight. I simply put my hair in a loose ponytail, loosely twist the ponytail, and cover overnight. In the morning, I take everything apart to achieve a loose wavy look. If you desire, you can trim your hair at this time to even out sections and remove split ends. Depending on humidity, season, products, activity level, and straightness of the hair after flat-ironing, your style may last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. I work out, sweat a bit, and live in a humid state. Therefore, my hair does not stay straighten for too long. I am fine with that but if you have any suggestions on how to keep the hair straighter in humid weather, please drop a comment below!

Here’s a pictorial laying out the basic steps of going from curly to straight without heat damage. Don’t forget to pin!

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