A Guide to Straightening Transitioning and Natural Hair Safely

Whether you are transitioning or natural, caution should be taken when applying heat to your hair.

There’s nothing wrong with the occasional flat iron or press, but you can overdo it and alter your curl pattern permanently.

And if you are transitioning, it can accelerate breakage — which may cut your transition shorter than you desire.

Here are some tips to ensure your hair stays healthy during your heat application

1) Deep Condition First

Deep conditioning strengthens the hair and should be done before any sort of major application like heat styling and even coloring the hair.  It’s all about giving your hair that strength prior to applying any heat.

Let the deep conditioner sit on your hair for at least 30 minutes, and to get the maximum benefit, sit under the dryer with a plastic cap on.

2) Blow Dry on The Coolest Setting Possible

When preparing to straighten your hair, blow dry on a cool to medium setting.  The cooler the better, of course.

3) Always Use a Heat Protectant

Apply this to your hair before straightening to add a layer of protection on your hair.  Some people use it before blow drying and flat ironing just to be safe.

If you want to go the more natural route, grapeseed oil is also a great protectant and can typically be found at most health food stores like Whole Foods.

I would recommend buying the salon-grade protectants that you can find at Sally’s or other professional beauty supply stores.

4)  Minimize Heat Exposure

If you’re transitioning, heat is really the enemy, so if you must use it, try to keep it down to 1-2 times per month if you can.

Heat not only makes your delicate, transitioning hair brittle, but you can dry it out and alter your natural hair pattern as well.

If you’re natural, you may find that you can straighten more often, but I would still recommend limiting the amount of heat exposure as much as you can because you can get heat damage and ruin your curl pattern.

You will know when this happens because your hair will not curl up anymore.  It will look straight or semi straight like processed hair.  Sometimes you can nurse the curls back by shampooing and deep conditioning, but if the damage is too severe you’ll need to trim it off.

How often you can flat iron/press is really up to your individual hair and how much heat you use, so just be careful.

5) Watch The Temperature

Never, ever buy a flat iron that does not have a temperature control.  If you want to keep from altering your curl pattern, try not to exceed 350 degrees.  In fact, go as low as possible.  If you can straighten your hair at 300 or 325 degrees, then that’s even better.

6) Don’t Go Bone Straight

Aim for a semi-straight look.  No, it won’t last as long but you will protect your precious tresses. :)

You may want your hair as straight as possible, but going over and over the same strands with the flat iron can ruin your natural curl pattern.

Press your hair in small sections and only go over it once.  Avoid using repeated heat applications on the same section of hair.

7) Avoid Dominican Blowouts!

I know they straighten better than anything in the hairstyling world, but I’ve heard so many horror stories about ruined curl patterns after getting one of these treatments.  This is just way, way too much heat for both transitioners and naturals.

Yes, there are always the exceptions and not every person has damage from these blowouts, but let’s just say I’ve heard of many more people who suffered damage than those who didn’t.

Now, if you are a natural who plans to wear your hair straight all the time, then loss of curl pattern may not be a concern.  However, if you want to go back and forth between curly and straight, be careful with excessive heat treatments.   And always make sure a protectant is used.

8) Use Ceramic and Tourmaline-Ceramic Products

Yes, these flat irons are going to cost you a little more, but they will lessen the chance of damage and work better.  Look for the labels that say 100% ceramic.

The coating on the cheaper flat irons will often wear off, and that’s a surefire way to damage your hair.  Trust me, this is one area where you probably want to splurge.

NOTE:  I am not a flat iron expert.  Just like with products, you have to experiment and see what works for your hair.  I can tell you that a lot of naturals seem to prefer the Sedu brand.  They make a very good quality, Tourmaline Ceramic flat iron with a temperature control.  Just please be careful and use at your own risk.


  1. says

    I haven’t had a relaxer since Dec 2015 and I’ve cut my hair down to a short bob layered cut. The problem I have my hair is super thick in the back and sides, but the top is still straight and have some thinning. I have to flat iron my hair because it would be a mess without it. I don’t know what to put on my hair. I have so many products, store bought and natural products. When it hot and humid outside, the back gets really nappy and the front half straight!…..Any suggestions

    Thank you,

  2. Regina Whitaker says

    I have not perked my hair in about a year but I have to apply heat at least twice a week my hairs very thick and I don’t really want to wear a natural my friend flat ironed my hair and said I need to cut off a lot of split ends but ive cut them I thought….I usually have braids but wanted to know what you suggest

  3. Tina says

    My beautician put a chemical in my hair that is supposed to help you avoid getting a perm it actually is amino acid type of product and my hair is thinning and has breakage and I need a hair style I can wear to work been wearing wigs with my hair wrapped underneath with a protective Wrap beanie but my hair still shedding Im trying to keep my relaxed hair while transitioning to natural it is so hard I need to know what products I need to use I’m thinking about using Aphogee step 1 & 2 treatment but do you have any suggestions before I go hold I’m trying to save my thinning hair sitting out the perm but my beauticians keeps using flat irons and blowing it dry please help me help her ..with the transitioning and proper products..I did order raw shea butter & argan oil repair & transition kit to take to her. Now after usind what protective hair style can I wear. a twist then put wig cap on or braid it up..or what…..I do leave the front out its getting a little damaged tho.

    • Shelby says

      please go run and get the aphogee two step treatment. Actually everything their line. I used the two step twice a year, the leave in conditioner every two days.. It saved my hair. I haven’t had a perm since 2010 and I straighten my hair once a week (I could never get on board with the natural thing) Ive retained length and curl pattern. My hair went from grazing my shoulder to below my bra strap. Use aphogee!!!

      • Tranquil says

        How Do You Straighten Your Hair? I Haven’t Had A Relaxer In Seven months. I’ve Been Wearing Weaves But Now I Would Like To Wear My Hair Out. I Am Planning On Using Ahpogee For Breakage.

  4. shericka says

    I have transitioning hair. My hair is very soft and thin. my curls always look wet when i do natural. I have never used shrinkage creams or anything but it is very hard maintaining my hair. Although it is so soft and thin my hair always look bushy and dry. If i put anything on it it lays it down and it doesn’t have any body to it. I dont know what to put on it. Flat ironing it makes it frizzy but bouncy with body. i just need help. I dont know what to do. i havent had a perm for close to a year if not a year and i rarely got them even when i did get them i use to get one every 6 months or so… I need to know what to put on it so when i flat iron it it can have the body and shine and look healthy. My hair stresses me out so bad i wont to wear hair weave.. HELP!! i keep hearing get a keratin treatment or a blow out. what should i do

  5. Kim says

    I need some help. I havent had a perm since December of 2013. It has been extremely hard for me to not put heat to my hair. I’ve been wearing weaves and braids for about a year and every 3 months I get my hair straightened so i can get my ends clipped. The problem is when I wear weaves I have some leave out and my hair in that area I think is completely damanged. I feel like cutting all my hair and startinb this process over. Any suggestions?

    • Swright says

      I had the same issue, instead of cutting off all my hair I started limiting the straigtening to once a week and deep conditioning that area. I also switched from weaves to half wigs and u-parts it allows you the styling flexibility (curly/straight) and give you the ability to care for your hair. I’ve gotten about 4 inches out of the switch

  6. ladyzeta6 says

    I don’t understand how one can alter their curl pattern permanently but using a flat iron, simply because what hasn’t grown out of the scalp yet isn’t affected by what is done to the hair further down the strand.

    • Jthurm says

      You permanently damage the pattern of the current strand. That’s why you cut it to get the curl pattern back on the newly grown hair.

  7. says

    i have started transitioning my hair now for about two weeks now and there is alot of breakage in my relaxed hair so it is causing me problem to find a hair style for school. By the way how long does transitional curls last for because i can’t bother to rod my hair every day!!!!

    • carla says

      Regis in Wal-Mart hair salon has a product line called triple effect that will provide you with exactly what you’re looking for. You need the shampoo, conditioner, and the spray in product that can be used daily not the leave in conditioner unless your hair is breaking and dry then I would say purchase all 4 products mentioned here… I hope this is helpful for you

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