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.
Shana Johns says
Hi girls I have been natural for about 8 months now. And my hair is thick and curly. I have noticed that my flyways are at the the root and I do blow dry my hair a lot with the help of BIOSILK oil and 100% Moroccan/Argan oil. So far I love the results from using these two products in conjunction with a blow dryer. The only set back from it that I see is that I have to blow dry my hair every few days if I want to keep it straight. Sometimes i just wet it and add hair spray for curls. My question is when my hair is curly, how can I maintain the shine and avoid the shrinkage because when it’s dry, it does shrink and it looks a little matted. I like big voluminous hair.
I haven’t had heat on my natural hair in almost two years so decided to get my hair straighten at the beauty salon to
and now three weeks later my curl pattern is gone. I’ve tried everything to recover it but nothing is working. The stylist used 350′ flat irons and I asked her several times was the heat going to damage my hair and she assured me it wasn’t but it’s obvious that was a lie. I wish someone would have warn me. I’m so hurt, I can’t believe I worked this hard to transition to natural hair and know its back to looking like I have a perm 🙁
Thanks for the tips.
Debra Morris says
These guidelines were wonderful! Thanks for the tips.
laura con says
I do not straighten my hair as much as I used to, but I blow dry alot. So I was in need of a good quality heat protection spray. I had read some reviews of the Somaluxe Argan Oil that it left hair feeling not heavy or greasy. So I tried it
I just use the Somaluxe Argan Oil after I finish showering and it has totally protected by hair from the blowdryer. It has a lovely fresh smell and my hair just looks SO GOOD after using it
I have not permed my hair since Jan 2014. I kept my hair braided and wore wigs. Now I flat iron my hair about every two weeks. My hair grew alot. But My hair is shedding with little short pieces of hair, like I cut it. I trimmed the ends back in May 2016. Dont know what to do. Maybe a protein treatment?
It depends on your regime. I would say to cut back the flat ironing. Are you completely natural? It could be the permed ends falling off. Your hair could be over processed with heat damage. Try to do a light protein treatment once a month. Also you can get a free consultation from a professional hair stylist . They Will be able to help you for sure . Goodluck!
Hi! I just started my transition. Its been almost 4 months now without a perm. I still go to the hairdresser and get a deep condition and wash&set. I sit under a hooded dryer. I like wearing my hair down and its getting very puffy now. Would you recommend blowing out the rooots a little? Or would that mess up my curl pattern? My hair is shoulder length, very healthy, and thick. Thank you!
Plz I can’t even corm my natural hair is too heavily what do I do
Daryan Hoke says
I have been transitioning for about a year. I take pain medication and my hair is thin but I am growing a bob. I wrap my hair at nigh, it’s shedding but growing. I flat iron daily due to not having curls when I un-wrap my hair. I don’t wear weaves, or twists because I like my hear straight. What heat protectant can I use other that ic it’s OK but doesn’t give me moisture or stops frizz). I use Wen ad my shampoo and conditioner. Do you suggest another shampoo and conditioner, and deep conditioner to switch to? Wen is ok, I get body, but it’s still frizzy afterwards. Help please.
Although pain medications can cause shedding, the Wen and your daily use of heat may be causing your hair loss. There’s currently a lawsuit regarding Wen.
Stop using Wen immediately!!!! My hair fell out at a massive rate due to the product. By the time I realized, almost 9 months later, it was too late. I don’t know how the product is FDA approved?
I started using Silk Element shampoo and conditioner and for a cowash I use The Mane Choice and my hair is really growing.
Khrystin White says
I’ve been natural for about 3 years now and my hair has not grown. I mean not one inch, it seems.
I have been using mielleorgnics pills they work! try it out . 🙂
Just give it time. Ive been natural for about 3 years as well.; I just knew my hair was not growing until one I straightened the back row, and it came half way down my back! It seems like the longer my hair gets the more it shrinks, which is rather irritating. But Im happy with my length now.
Samee . i flat ironed my hair for tge first time yesterday after 3 years ! I wass nervous at first but once i saw the length i was so proud of it . just keep pushing forward n
Your hair is going. Your ends might be breaking off at the same rate of growth. I though the same thing until I started doing protective styles like crotchet and box braids. Also make sure you are moisturizing properly and protecting your ends at night with a silk pillowcase or scarf.
Thank u!!! My mom started perming my hair at 4, my length has always been passed my shoulders..put a,bad perm on about a month ago and of course it damaged it a lot but ive been holding on to the length by deep conditioning every week and a 1 & 2 step treatment..ive hadnt had an issue letting it air dry and rocking it naturally frizzy until i got a call for an interview tomm morning so i needed tips on straightening it with less heat possible…ill tell u i washed it with aphogee damaged hair shampoo and let the balancing moisturizer sit for a good hour..washed it and applied a little grape seed before blowing drying with COOL air…flat ironed it on 300° and applied a little almond oil afterwards…when i tell u she is luscious and back full of life…thank u, thank u, thank u!!
Just what I needed to hear. I have plans of straightening my hair soon so that I can do a length check.
These tips were wonderful! I also enjoyed the FAQ for transitioning. You have helped me tremendously. My hair is currently in the dry and brittle stage. Keep posting great content!
Thanks this a great website for us naturals.
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I haven’t had a Perm since January 2015 I am Transitioning to become a natural even when I deep Condition my hair is still dry and break off is that because I use my blow dryer on hi heat help me plz
Yes, I am currently trying to transition as well.. however I am only 3 months in. Anyway, i try to not blow dry my hair, but let it air dry. I have been experimenting with natural styles. One night if you have about 12 hours to spare (meaning from like 5pm to the next morning/no plans that night) you can try this. Wash your hair, deep condition, rinse… do not completely dry hair.. apply a leave in conditioner, and oil (I like Hollywood brand Tea Tree oil- helps with itching).. after you apply those two simply twist hair in sections (not too big) and by choice you can Bantu Knot whole thing or Bantu Knot the ends. Once dry it will be a beautiful curl and it will still be hydrated. The left over water helps hold in the leave in conditioner and oils.
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
Try to keep it moisturized and try some natural styles like twist outs (YouTube can help)… I think you may like it.
Melissa Cowan says
My hair is very freely..what should I use to keep it straight
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
Yordalys D says
It’s almost impossible to stay away from heat and not have a backup natural style .i would strongly suggest finding a natur style that works for you because while straightening hair is easier , you will never be fully natural applying heat to it because your curls and waves won’t be able to fully show
I’m sorry but this is not true. Your hair could be completely heat damaged but that doesn’t mean you are not completely natural. Being natural means keeping your hair chemical (relaxer) free. Unless your curls are being altered by chemicals, no matter how much you flat iron your hair and get heat damage, your hair is still considered as natural. Oh and I’m not trying to be mean or start anything. I just felt the need to comment.
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.
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!!!
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.
Ashley Goss says
i would recommend a full sew in with a good closure so all pf your hair wouldnt be touch by heat and you can manipulate the weave hair any way you like. 🙂
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
Try a “Silk Press” from your beautician
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?
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
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.
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.
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!!!!
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
Thanks for the natural hair tips! 🙂 Have a nice day!
you can also wash your hair with cold water because with warm water it will make it curly