How To Straighten Your Strands And Keep Them Sleek And Straight For More Than A Day
Getting super straight, sleek and shiny hair can easily turn into an hours-long task, as well as one that comes with burns, arguments paired with slight violence (“I said turn your head this way!”), and often ends with the disappointment of straight ends and puffy roots. Whether you’re relaxed or natural, when you spend time on something, especially your hair, you want it to last until you’re ready to change the style. Try these tips and reminders for how to straighten your hair and keep it that way.
Start with the wash.
When prepping the hair for straightening, the advice in the past has been to start with a straightening shampoo and conditioner. Personally, this isn’t a must, but if it gives you peace of mind, do it. Most smoothing shampoos and conditioners coat the hair with silicones—like most conditioners. A during-the-wash straightening tip that works for me—I have thick, usually frizzy and puffy hair, a triple whammy—is leaving conditioner residue in my hair, meaning, I don’t completely rinse out the conditioner after detangling my hair. When doing this, I notice that I use less styling product during the straightening process.
Skip the blow dryer.
Repeat this: “Blow drying my hair is bad.” If you can help it, skip the blow drying portion of your hair-straightening routine. My favorite hairstyle to prep my hair for flat ironing is what I call the ‘Snoop Dogg braids’, because they are two braided ponytails that hang low. Simply part the hair into two sections, creating a low ponytail with each half, pulling your hair taught (not tight). Then, plait the hair into two braids and let it air dry. It should be dry enough for heat in an hour or two. The low ponytails at the nape of the neck elongate and separate your hair, stretching it and making it easier to part. If you’re short on time, or just can’t shake the heat, you can also do this style, then sit under a hooded dryer for a short time. Also, a roller set under the hooded dryer is perfect for a volume-infused style. All you’ve got to do is ensure that the roots are smooth.
Choose the right tools and products.
Knowing how your hair behaves is important. For instance, using a Gold n’ Hot hot comb or a product similar to it on level 30 for fine or fragile hair (for which you’d probably want to stop at the roller set portion of this advice column), probably isn’t the best idea if you’d like to avoid burning your hair off mid-strand in a devastating sizzle. Likewise, a quick pass with a blow dryer and a paddle brush won’t give someone with super thick hair sleek results. Whatever tool you choose, flat iron, hot comb, or curling iron, make sure you’re at the proper heat level. The tool should be hot enough to smooth your hair in two passes, but not so hot that your strands smell burned.
Choosing the right straightening products isn’t a quick task. It’s easy to get lost in the aisle of straightening products in your local drugstore or beauty supply store. This is where, again, knowing the characteristics of your hair helps. There is no reason to entertain using a leave-in smoothing serum that has water in it when you know you should be taking a non-judgmental second look at that old school, kitchen-stylist product that works best. The old school product I like best is called Liv: The Problem Solver. It’s a shameful name, but it works! Sleek & Shine Flat Iron Perfector Straightening Mist by Garnier Fructis is a product I recommend for fine hair.
The main event: straightening and keeping your hair straight.
We all know we should straighten in the tiniest sections we can stand, even if it takes four hours. I recommend using what is called the ‘chase method.’ This means you chase your boar bristle or plastic variation black-girl brush with the flat iron. This helps to make sure that you pull each section taught instead of passing heat over the hair with no gain. I mean, if you’re going to risk the heat damage, you want the rewards, right?
To keep my hair straight, I like spreading a modest amount of coconut oil on it before wrapping it at night. I’ll also smooth a ‘conditioning gel’ like Shine n’ Jam, my favorite, or an edge control gel over my wrap and give it a final swoop with a brush if the ends are getting out of control. Doing either of these for your nightly wrap helps keep your hair moisturized and smooth.
When you take the time to style your hair, you want it to stay a certain way, hence all of the years of overstyled ‘frozen’ ‘dos. Now you can have a free-flowing straight style that will always be on trend.