Syl is my sister…4 years younger, and definitely smarter. She’s currently a senior at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and on her way to graduate school! While home for Christmas, I asked her to write up her ‘hair story’ for cn.com. Like me, she’s natural- only she chooses to wear it straight. I’m not an advocate for heat styling, but I’m also not a hater…I give credit where credit is due! Her hair is VERY healthy, and absolutely stunning. Heat styled hair can most certainly flourish, if properly cared for:

Like Nikki, I grew up with a very particular hair care routine. Our mother washed and blow-dried my hair, and our grandmother straightened it with a hotcomb. Never allowing me to get a relaxer, despite the fact that I would sweat out my press normally within hours, was the best decision that my mom could have made for my hair. In high school, I ran track and cross country. Needless to say, grandma’s press and curl did not survive. I took to just wearing my hair blown out, without flat ironing or pressing it. However, by my junior year, I found out about a salon that specializes in hair care for black natural hair (Shi Salon). I began going to the salon twice a month. And 5 years later, I still have the same amazing stylist, though she now has her own shop (Halo Salon). She is very particular about the products that she uses on my hair and monitors the amount of heat that she applies. She does not provide relaxers for any of her clients because she understands how damaging they can be, so I never have to worry about her somehow processing my hair. Furthermore, I get my ends clipped and I receive deep conditioning treatments about every other month. Before meeting my stylist, my hair was a little longer than shoulder length. It now reaches the middle of my back (and that’s after having it cut back to shoulder length a little over a year ago).

I choose to wear my hair straight because I have never had skills when it comes to doing my own hair. Ask Nikki, and she will tell you that I can barely put it into a bun. I am proof that it is very possible to have healthy straightened hair, as long as you communicate to your stylist what is and what is not acceptable. I suggest finding a stylist who is an advocate of natural hair care.

Furthermore, you have to make sure that you wrap your hair each night and sleep in the appropriate hair covering (satin scarf). It is also important to note that I NEVER touch up my own hair in between appointments. With the seemingly unlimited access to flatirons in today’s society, it is easy to pick one up and fix your edges or a frizzy patch whenever you see fit. However, this can become addicting, which will result in applying too much heat to your hair in a very short amount of time. Plus, flat ironing dirty hair is also a huge NONO! Thus, I leave the straightening to my stylist. If my edges start to look frizzy, I simply don a headband and call it a day until my next appointment. Hope this is helpful. And for anyone in the St. Louis area that is looking to maintain straight natural hair, definitely check out Shi Salon (request Marie) or Halo Salon (request Lynn).