Let's talk about something that is a little controversial in the natural hair community: heat manipulation! The impression I get from watching several Naturalistas on YT, the verdict on flat ironing is very divided-- some naturals use heat with much success some forbid and abhor it, and others remain undecided. I think I'm of the undecided/ neutral variety. It's very hard for me to say what someone should or shouldn't do with their hair because I believe in experimentation, especially if you're newly natural and you're just learning about all the wonderful things your hair can do. I've straightened my hair four or five times, and each time I achieved different results. I always made sure to use some form of heat protectant-- whether it be oil or some other heat protectant product (I hear grape seed oil is great for this). Furthermore, I only flat iron my hair once or twice a year, usually because I want to check my length and trim my ends if needed. I will say this much-- I have never succeeded in getting my hair bone straight. My natural texture is extremely thick and because I never get it super straight, it ends up looking like a blowout after one day.
I won't sit here and say that I'm not somewhat paranoid about what heat manipulation is doing to my hair. Sometimes I worry that straightening my hair could be stunting my growth (even though I only do it twice a year) or that I may get heat damage and my kinks wont bounce back. To ensure that I'm protecting my hair from heat damage, I deep condition my hair two or three days before I flat iron, and I wear styles like braid outs or flat twists that stretch my natural pattern. I notice that when my hair is already stretched, half of the flat ironing battle is already won. I proceed to add oil to each stretched section, comb through to detangle, blow dry on low heat, and THEN and only then do I pass the flat iron over my hair--and I was surprised to find that just one time is all it takes! Another lesson I learned, is that I shouldn't apply heat to my hair when it starts to revert; instead I should wear styles that really showcase my stretched hair. All of these tips I picked up by watching hair videos-- gotta love YT!
I flat ironed my hair about two weeks ago just to gauge my length and see how much my hair had grown since last year. I was happy to see that I retained a few inches and that my ends were in pretty good condition. I probably wont use intense heat on my hair until May, which marks the anniversary of my last relaxer. It will be interesting to compare photos of my relaxed hair with photos of my flat ironed natural hair. Every once in a while I get the itch to flat iron, but then I hear my inner voice preaching to myself that heat should be used in moderation. What do you think? Do you incorporate heat styling into your regimen? Or do you think that flat ironing your hair is plain unlawful? I would love to hear thoughts, ideas and suggestions!
|Two days post flat iron: It looks like a blow out!|