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Curly Nikki

Straightening Natural Hair – My Tried and True Tips

By January 27th, 202123 Comments

Straightening Natural Hair - My Tried and True Tips

via the forum, shauntielavette writes:

I’m straightening my hair tonight. Any tips on preventing heat damage?

CN Says:
(circa 2011)

I haven’t straightened since Valentines Day. I remember it vividly because hubby requested it and I wasn’t feeling it… the time consuming process or the end result. I think I washed like a couple of days later! Big hair all day over here.

So although I’m sure there may be some new techniques floating around, below, you’ll find my tried and true tips…

Read More!>>>

  • 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.

Recommended Products Many of my fav roller set products were recommended by frequent heat stylers.

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)

What did I miss?

This article was originally published on September 2011 and has been updated for grammar and clarity.


  • ms.beautiful says:

    doesnt it depend on the hair type because i have really frizzy thick nappy hair that only gets straight if i get it done at a salon…… what should i do while straightening my hair?

  • Unknown says:

    I have seen the potienal of how long my hair can get just have to avoid breakage. I have demertic seborris scalp condition so its hard.

  • Unknown says:

    Love not having a perm but keeping my hair moist is exhausting fyi I am not hair. Tryed to do a wrap tonight well I did OK just trying it so I don't have to flat iron so much.

  • LauraWolfhart says:

    To minimize heat damage, avoid blow drying before using a flat iron. Always use a good heat protectant and use a professional flat iron with pure ceramic/tourmaline plates and heat settings. Start with the lowest and work your way up if nothing happens after three passes. I use Karmin G3 Styling iron, best professional iron out there and least damaging.

  • Anonymous says:

    To anonymous, I'm not 100% sure but it is most likely yes

  • Anonymous says:

    I recently had my hair pressed and trimmed. My problem is i have strands that have not reverted back. Is this due to heat damage?

  • Anonymous says:

    Here's a great video tutorial about straightening your hair. I love her vlog, she and naptural inspired me to go natural.

  • Black Hairstyles Magazine says:

    Great tips! You are right in that they are tried and true! The only thing I would add is how to properly wash your hair. I don't know about everyone else but I have to get in the shower with my hair loosely braided in sections and then un-braid and shampoo one section at a time. I then twist each section back up, and untwist each section to add conditioner. I braid each section back up after I apply conditioner. I then do a final rinse and use a wet sponge to help in rinsing the braids. I hope that makes sense. lol! If I don't do this, I end up with a mess!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Nikki, wow I didn't realize you've been natural all your life (chemical free) I guess that explains why your hair is so gorgeous. Relaxers cause such scalp damage (as in my case) that I think that once someone even decides to go natural, it's still hard to get the length and healthy hair of someone that has never been damaged by the lye.

  • Anonymous says:

    I learned a great tip for Westndnbeauty from a post she made on LHCF. If you live in a highly humid area (I live in New Orleans), then you should deep condition overnight and then go through the flat ironing process. It nips reversion in the bud! Not meaning your hair won't revert at all, but it won't revert prematurely. I didn't follow this method last Thanksgiving and my hair started to revert as soon as I left the salon. I tried it for Christmas and my hair stayed straight until I washed it out after New Years. HTH!

  • Candace4life says:

    I'm thinking about flat ironing my hair, but not sure that I will do it. THe blowdrying of my hair I will definitely do it probably within the next 2 weeks. Since the temp will be dropping down hopefully my hair wont puff up so much. I will just do this only once a month, and just flatiron once a year. I'm keeping my fingers cross and hope that I don't mess up my hair , keep me in your…. j/k

  • CURLYNIKKI says:

    @Jeannette, cool! That's very good to know!

  • Jeannette says:

    @Curlynikki…Even in the book, "The Science of Black Hair" her advice is similar to yours in that her advice is if you plan to flat iron your hair, then skip blow-drying instead, roller set. I believe she also mentioned banding.

  • CURLYNIKKI says:

    I've never had a relaxer… so I've been natural my entire life. I wore my hair pressed until I was 20ish and that's when I started experimenting with curly styles. I haven't straightened my hair since 2007. But I wear it 'stretched' often.

    I may revisit flat ironed hair one day, but it was so harsh on my baby fine strands that I gave it up and never looked back!


  • Anonymous says:

    i thought curlynikki said she had never straightened her hair since she "went" natural? I am just asking since I was looking forward to seeing pics of her straightend hair IF she ever did it and decided to post. I wanted more inspiration for when I straightened my hair.

  • CURLYNIKKI says:

    @anon, I know what you mean, and I'm often frustrated as well! Things change from month to month… just like what's good for our diets (eggs are good today, but weren't yesterday… I think coffee is back on the good list today…).

    From my understanding, hair is weaker when wet and prone to overstretching which can lead to breakage.Which is why you're advised against brushing and combing at this time as well. HOWEVER, 7 years ago, when I started researching, everything I read said that you should ONLY comb when wet and full of conditioner.

    In all honesty, if possible, I'd skip the blowdryer altogether. It can be very damaging and rollersetting is a great option to prep for straightening.

  • Anonymous says:

    I hate getting misleading/conflicting information when looking on blogs and reading books about natural hair. From reading "The Science of Black Hair", her chemical research claims that the water forms a barrier, so it is best to blow dry hair in a wet, damp-like state. But you claim it'll cause breakage. Which is it?

  • RNatural says:

    I agree with all of the above. I also used Hair Rules, Blow Out Your Kinks prior to blow drying and it leaves my hair very soft, shiny and straight. It's makes it much easier and quicker to flat iron and you don't need as much heat.

    Another good way to not use so much heat is to wash/cond., put in your leave-in while your hair is damp, not soaking wet. Then put in a few twists or plaits and let your hair air-dry. Then follow up with your heat protective serum and flat iron.

    Good Luck

  • CURLYNIKKI says:

    @anon, I remember really wanting to do it for him, but feeling a little annoyed at the thought of the process. afterall, he influenced my idea to go natural… but he also liked the look of my straightened hair. I was doing it for him as a VDay gift, but I remember, standing in that half bathroom… in the mirror feeling so drove going through the motions. It was also slightly annoying cause I knew, even while passing the flat iron through that I'd be washing again in a few days, lol.

  • Anonymous says:

    How did you feel about your husband wanting you to wear your hair straight?

  • Anonymous says:

    I just straightened my hair 2 wks ago. I straighten my hair 2x's a year for my trims & here is what I do.
    1. Wash w/KeraCare Hydrating Shampoo (to try to bombard my hair with moisture & ensure I'm removing all dirt and residue)
    2. Deep condition (again pumping in moisture)
    3. Apply a lightweight Leave-in
    4. Mist w/Aveda's Brilliant Damage Control (probably one of the best heat protectants that I've used thus far)
    5. Blow dry in small sections on low and then blow dry on cool to close cuticles back up.
    **I'll usually pull it back into a bun at this point to try to straighten it a little more before pressing the next day**
    6. Press w/light heat (Something about smashing my hair between two flat hot plates scares me now-a-days).
    7. Then throw some Carouso curlers in there and once those are out I'm done!

    While it's straight, I'll rub some coconut oil in my hands and rub over my ends every other day or so. My hair usually goes right back to where it was once I wash and condition again. Hope that helps!

  • Anonymous says:

    The Hot Sauce! CHI makes a thermal protectant and it gets hair really straight and it is called hot sauce.

  • Barbara Naturally Speaking says:

    Great post and info! I haven't straightened my natural hair on my own, however I have roller set and flat ironed my daughters hair 1 time. I co-washed her hair though instead of using shampoo. I used a leave in conditioner and heat protectant. I roller set her hair first, then flat ironed her hair in small sections. She did not have any heat damage, as her hair reverted completely back to curly. On the other hand, I've been too lazy to go through this process on my own hair and always go to the shop to have mines straightened and always ended up with damage. I think it's because I had my hair blow dried which is dramatic for my strands. My strands couldn't take all that heat and I still have a piece that straight and hasn't reverted back.

    I heard great reviews about the Salern 21 and also have seem many reviews about the IC fantasia heat protectant online. Again great post!

    Barbara of

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