So although I'm sure there may be some new techniques floating around, below, you'll find my tried and true tips...
- Cleanse thoroughly (shampoo not a cleansing conditioner), condition and deep condition for 30 minutes with a heat source
- Apply a light coating of leave-in conditioner and/or oil (locking in your moisture) and apply a heat proectant
- Skip the blowdryer... if you can, chunky braid, roller set, or pony tail roller set (cheat set) the hair to stretch it. Air dry overnight or sit under a bonnet dryer.
- If you must blowdry, blot excess moisture and allow your hair to airdry for 15 minutes prior to starting. Blowdrying wet hair can lead to loss of elasticity and in the long run, breakage. Keep the heat setting as low as possible and hold the nozzle a few inches away from the hair.
- Flat iron hair in VERY small sections with your ceramic plated iron using the chase method. Detangle the section thoroughly with a wider tooth comb, then grab a comb with closer teeth and comb from the roots down, just enough for the flat iron to fit (between your roots and the comb) and chase the comb with the iron, on your way down to the ends. The tension should only make 1 pass necessary to get your hair its straightest.
- Keep the temperature as low as possible... start on a cooler setting and go up incrementally (5 degrees if possible) until you reach an effective temp. The straighter you get your hair in the stretching process, the less heat you'll need while flat ironing. I'd recommend 300-350... nothing over 400 degrees.
- Finally, no touch-ups! When your hair is beginning to revert, bantu knot or twist it to achieve a wave pattern. Never flat iron dirty hair. Sleep in a satin cap at night.
Leave-in Conditioner Recommendations-
***Salerm 21- (a thicker leave-in with moisture + silk protein and lots of slip. Love it!)
***Lacio Lacio (my favorite right now for roller-sets. It's lighter than Salerm 21 and leaves my hair strong, soft and moisturized. It also aids in detangling. It's another one that has a good mix of moisture +silk protein)
Redken Anti Snap (People love it. I don't. I really wanted to, but it makes my hair feel weird. I think it's the hydrolized wheat and soy proteins. Maybe it'll be your fav!)
Protein containing conditioners (and conditioning treatments) are important if you plan to make heat use a habit. Although nothing can prevent all damage, it will fortify your strands, minimizing breakage.
Heat Proctectant Recommendations-
***Sabino Lok and Blok (my absolute favorite and I like that it's not a spray... I also use this in the summer as an anti-humectant. It smooths the cuticle, locks in moisture, absorbs heat and leaves a lovely shine.)
Redken Smooth Down Heat Glide (never tried, but have heard great things)
Fantasia IC (never tried, but it's very popular and has great reviews around the web)
This article was originally published on September 2011 and has been updated for grammar and clarity.