There’s no denying that there’s some prejudice against curly locks. The ideal is to have straight and lustrous hair even though there’s a significant portion of the population that has curly hair. In fact, a study has shown that about 40% of Europeans have wavy tresses and another 15% have curly locks. This explains why a lot of people are wondering how to straighten curly hair.
To be fair, not a lot of people who want to straighten their natural curly hair do it because they feel pressured to do so. Some just really want to change up their looks from time to time. And what better way to transform yourself than change your hair, right?
No matter what your case is, you might be interested in learning the best way to straighten curly hair. For this, here’s a quick guide that can help you out.
Straightening Curly Hair vs. Frizzy Hair: What’s the Difference?
Before we go into the technical aspects of this beauty routine, you might first want to know the difference between straightening curly hair and frizzy hair. Some people are still confused between the two, but what you should know is that they’re two completely different things.
Curly hair is a hair type while frizzy hair is a condition. All hair types (curly, straight, wavy) can get frizzy under certain circumstances. Frizz is defined as an irregular hair texture that can be caused by genetics, hair damage, or humidity. Experts blame it on the lack of moisture within one’s hair strands which then causes it to seek moisture from its environment. By doing so, the hair takes in the moisture from the air which causes it to swell which results in frizzing.
Some people who have frizzy hair can mistake their locks to curly because of the resulting texture and the strands curling. However, if your hair doesn’t have a specific curve pattern, it can’t be considered as wavy or curly.
The techniques how to straighten frizzy hair can also be quite different from ironing out kinky locks. This is why it’s very important that you determine first whether your hair is curly or frizzy.
If it’s both, you’re in for a ride. A lot of folks with curly hair actually has frizzy hair. Experts attribute this to the fact that curly locks tend to lack moisture. Due to the shape of the strands, natural oils from the scalp aren’t easily distributed to their entire length. Because of this, curly hair becomes more prone to frizzing. This also means that you might need to remember to combine the techniques for straightening curly and frizzy hair to achieve the best results.
3 Important Things to Note When Straightening Your Curly Hair
Aside from determining your hair type and condition, you should also make sure to keep the following points in mind before trying to straighten your hair:
Some hair straightening methods can damage your locks.
While it’s possible to straighten wavy hair without the use of heat or chemicals, it’s not the same thing for those with very tight curls. Unfortunately, both can be damaging to your tresses especially when done the wrong way.
There are a few costly mistakes that you can do when you want your curly hair straightened. Here are a few most damaging examples:
You use too much heat.
Heat is the most efficient and fastest tool to change the shape of your hair strands. Why? By applying heat to your locks, it breaks down the hydrogen bonds in the strands. This might sound scary but it also happens when you wet your hair. This only means that your hair’s integrity changes when certain things are applied to it.
As your hair strands cool or dry up, they will then take the shape they’re in. This is why heat is used for various hair styling techniques and it’s just a matter of technique and tool shape to achieve varying results. With a flat iron, the hair is pushed flat and straight so it results in an aligned appearance. With a curling barrel or rod, the hair is shaped into a curl so it results in ringlets and waves.
Unfortunately, you can use too much heat to your hair. This can then become a problem because the hair cannot handle high temperatures just like the other parts of your body. It can burn and break at certain points so you have to be careful when applying heat to it.
Different hair types can handle different heat levels. Experts recommend that those with fine and damaged hair use very little heat to their locks so they should only set their tools at below 300F. Those with normal hair can handle 300 to 380 F while those with thick and coarse hair strands can handle 350 to 400 F.
You straighten your curly locks too frequently.
Constantly exposing your hair to heat and chemicals can’t be good for your locks. Heat, for one, can rob it of its natural moisture. Heat styling, in general, can be seriously drying to your locks as the heat can dehydrate your hair strands.
This is why experts recommend against the daily use of flat irons. You also shouldn’t get chemical straightening treatments very often. There are no definite numbers for the latter but you should still give your hair some rest in between treatments if you don’t want to seriously damage your locks. Most folks say that you should wait a couple of months in between treatments so your hair and scalp can recover from being exposed to harsh chemicals.
You directly apply heat to your curly locks while they’re still wet.
One of the most important rules that you have to keep in mind in using hair styling irons is that you should never use them on wet hair. Whether it’s a flat iron or a curling rod, you should never have them in contact with soaking wet locks.
Why? Doing so can seriously damage your hair. Some experts say that it’s similar to boiling the water inside your hair strands. Scientifically speaking, though, it’s much worse than that. As it turns out, applying direct heat on damp hair strands creates a steam and bubbles to form inside the fiber of the hair. It results in cracking along the hair shaft which can then damage your hair’s cuticle.
With the cuticle being the protective part of your hair strands, damaging it can also result to a damaged cortex. The latter determines the strength of your locks, so if it’s hurt, it can also weaken your hair’s elasticity, color, and resistance to breakage. With a damaged cortex, your hair becomes weak. It can even cause a permanent damage to your hydrogen bonds, resulting in more unmanageable tresses.
You don’t protect your locks from the heat.
Despite all of the potential damage that heat can cause to your hair, there are still ways to straighten curly hair without damaging it. One of the best techniques is to use heat protectants. These products are applied to the hair to create a barrier that will keep the moisture inside your hair so it won’t be dried out by the heat.
You use heat to straighten seriously damaged hair.
It’s no secret that processing your hair in any way damages it if done carelessly. However, people continue to do so for various reasons. Things become worse, however, if they insist to use heat and chemicals to their hair when it’s already severely damaged.
Damaged hair is already weak as it is. Trying to change its shape and integrity by applying heat and chemicals to it makes matters worse, so you should avoid doing so.
You use the wrong shampoo and conditioner.
If your hair products aren’t formulated to hydrate and protect your hair from damage, then you can also be compromising your locks when you try to make curly hair straight. If the items you use are packed with ingredients that can dry out your locks, you’ll leave your hair vulnerable to damage when you use heat or chemicals on it.
This is why it’s very important to start your hair styling efforts in the shower. Like how it goes in with your skin, a healthy hair is also the perfect canvas for a beautiful hairstyle. So if you managed to make your locks healthy, you can also get the best results when you try to straighten curly hair.
What should you look for in a shampoo and conditioner? Sulfate-free varieties are highly recommended. Look for those with nourishing ingredients like coconut oil, honey, and shea.
Your tools matter.
The kinds of tools you use to straighten your hair also play a huge role in getting great results. Not all hairstyling devices are made equally so you have to choose the best one.
There are many ways that can help you find the best hair straightener for curly hair. For one, you can always look for the best brands to ensure reliability and quality. To narrow down your options, the materials used can help you decide. A lot of experts recommend opting for tourmaline coated tools as they heat up evenly and can help trap moisture within your hair strands.
If you’re going to share your tool with someone else in your household, though, make sure to get a product with adjustable heat settings. This can help ensure that no one will have to use too much heat or overuse the heat styling tool just to get their desired results.
Last but not the least, make sure that the tool you’re getting is something you can easily handle. If it’s unwieldy, there are chances that you’ll make a mistake in its use which can be harmful to your locks.
Some hair types won’t look as sleek and pin-straight as some would hope.
Some folks with really thick, coarse, curly tresses might find it very difficult to achieve their desired results. They might be able to straighten their hair successfully but some texture will most likely remain. This is why it’s best to manage your expectations, especially if you have really kinky and tight curls.
How to Straighten Hair: 5 Ways You Can Straighten Curly Hair
Now that you’re fully aware of what can come with straightening natural curly hair, you’re all ready to learn the best techniques. How to straighten curly hair? Here’s a roundup of the different techniques that you can try:
Using Hair Straightening Devices at Home
As a lot of people only want straight locks from time to time, using heat styling tools prove to be one of the most popular ways to achieve the look. This will let you change your hair without completely committing to it as the straightness can go away in a day or two, depending on your locks, tool, and techniques you used to straighten your hair.
Here are some of the most popular tools and the basics in using them:
With the right accessories and techniques, you can easily use your blow dryer to straighten your locks. This technique might work best for those with wavy and frizzy hair, though.
So if you have seriously curly hair, you might not want to rely on this tool entirely if you want pin-straight hair.
Here are the basic directions for straightening your hair with a blow dryer:
1. Wash your hair, blot out the excess water, and then comb it out.
2. Apply a heat protectant all over your hair but be careful not to use too much as it can leave your hair looking greasy and limp.
3. If you’re in your bathroom, move elsewhere. The humidity there can cause your locks to frizz, so get out of there fast.
4. Rough dry your hair. You can do this by running the blow dryer over your tresses without a hairbrush or nozzle first. This will lower the risks of hair damage as you won’t need to use high temperatures to dry and straighten your hair right away. Do this until your hair is about 80% dry.Note: Make sure to position the blow dryer in a way that it’s blowing air from your roots to tips. This will ensure that your cuticles remain closed which will prevent hair damage.
5. Attach a flat nozzle accessory to your blow dryer vertically. It might feel like positioning it horizontally would be wiser, but it’s not. By placing the nozzle vertically, you’ll be able to maneuver the blow dryer more easily.
6. Divide your hair into layers. Put up about ⅔ of the topmost layers of your hair so you can start straightening your locks from the bottom.
7. Using a barrel brush (the larger the better if you have long hair), pick up some of your hair. Let your locks sit on top of the brush. You will then need to run the blow dryer nozzle over your hair’s length while brushing it out at the same time. Make sure that the blow dryer’s nozzle is at least 2 to 3 inches away from your hair so it won’t cause burning. Repeat for the rest of your locks.
Note: Make sure to continue blowing hot air from your roots to tips to ensure the best results.
8. Finish your look by brushing out your hair while blasting cold air to it and then applying some hair serum to it.
If you want a more straightforward tool to straighten your hair, a flat iron would be an excellent choice.
It can also be easier to get the hang of with proper practice.
Here’s how to straighten your hair with this classic tool:
1. Start with dry hair. If you’re going to straighten clean hair, make sure to dry it thoroughly first. You can use a blow dryer or even the best hooded hair dryers for faster results.
2. Apply heat protectant before completely drying your hair. Again, don’t overapply your product of choice so your locks won’t get weighed down and look greasy or limp.
3. Separate your locks into sections. Layer it up and put up the topmost layers so you can get easy access to the hair at the bottom of your head.
4. Plug in your flat iron and select the right temperature for your hair type. Make sure not to crank up the heat of your flat iron as it can be very damaging to your locks.
5. Start straightening your locks. Clamp down on a spot where you want to start. Make sure that it’s near the roots so you can evenly straighten the entire length of your hair. Go relatively slow and steady so your hair can get enough heat to effectively straighten each strand. Don’t go too slow or pause at certain points, though, as these tools can easily break your hair strands. Repeat until you’ve straightened all of your hair strands.
Note: Avoid doing repeated passes on your hair as it can weaken and damage your locks. Try to stick with just a single pass or two to minimize your risks of hair damage.
6. Finish off by applying a hair serum.
Hair Straightening Brush
The best hair straightening brushes are also gaining a lot of attention as of late for being one of the most convenient tools to use when straightening naturally curly hair. Because it’s just a hairbrush with heated bristles, it’s way easier to maneuver than all of the other tools in the list.
How do you use a straightening brush? Here are the basics:
1. Prepare your hair for the heat styling process. If you’re washing it, make sure to apply a heat protectant before drying it completely.
2. Brush out your hair. This will help you untangle the knots on your locks so you won’t apply additional heat to your locks as you straighten it out.
3. Part your hair into sections. Tie up the upper layers as it’s always best to start with the hair at the bottom of your head.
4. Select the right temperature for your hair.
5. Start brushing your locks from roots to tips. Moderate your speed to make sure that your hair will receive the right amount of heat to change their shape. Don’t go too fast or too slow as both can be damaging to your skin. Try to limit the passes you make on each strand as well. Repeat until all of your hair is brushed out and straightened.
6. To add volume and shape to your hair, do a few passes under your hair to lift your hair up a little.
7. Finish up with your favorite hair serum.
Getting Hair Straightening Treatments from Professionals
If you want to have straight hair for at least a few months at a time, a chemical hair treatment is also a solid option for you. These options offer more convenience to those who prefer not to have to deal with their hair regularly as it can keep your hair straight for long periods at a time. It’s not a permanent way to get rid of curly hair but it can at least free you from having to use hair irons for months at a time.
What are your options if you want to try chemically straightening your locks? Here are a few examples.
Considered as one of the most popular keratin hair treatment today, a Brazilian Blowout is deemed as a safe way to chemically straighten hair. As it uses a keratin solution to change the shape of each hair strand, it’s ideally not as damaging as what other treatments use. Keratin is a naturally occurring hair protein so by using a keratin solution, so it’s a virtually natural approach in changing the integrity of your locks.
This is a classic example of chemical hair straightening. It uses actual chemicals to break down hair proteins and change the shape of your hair strands. It’s a tricky method as the professional’s skills can really make or break the results.
Japanese Hair Straightening Perm
Also known as thermal reconditioning, this method uses chemicals and heat to change the shape of your hair strands. It then smooths out and conditions your locks to achieve a straight appearance. The only downside to it is that it takes a while to complete, about 6 to 8 hours. So if you can’t sit still or spare as much time in one go, it might not be the best pick for you.
Despite the drastic hair straightening before and after results from these methods, some experts still raise some concerns over this method. As some treatments tend to use harsh ingredients, they can seriously damage your locks. This is why it’s important to only entrust your tresses to reputable professionals who use high-quality products to get straighten your hair. It would also be great if you do your own research and become fully aware of what’s going to your hair before taking the leap.
As mentioned above, experts also recommend against having hair straightening treatments too often. The constant chemical exposure can compromise your hair health the same way it does when you bleach and dye your hair too often. So if you don’t want to seriously damage your hair, schedule your salon appointments wisely and just touch up with the DIY methods above from time to time.