I am going to address this upfront. Straightening curly hair is a bit controversial. There are different beliefs when it comes to straightening curly hair. Some people don’t believe in straightening curls for many different reasons. Straightening out curls can obviously damage the hair and it can also relax the curls over time.
When it comes to straightening curly hair, I am a believer in doing your hair how you feel most comfortable. If you absolutely love how your curls look and don’t ever want to wear it straight, that is great! I find that having my hair straightened is easier to keep healthy and it’s easier to manage. For my daughters, straightening their hair is kind of an annual tradition. We treat it as a special occasion and it is always fun to see just how long their hair is.
Wherever you stand on straightening curly hair, the most important thing to know is how to straighten them out, while keeping the curls the healthiest. That is what I want to focus on!
Straightening Little Girl Curly Hair
We filmed a video that talks a little bit about straightening little girl curly hair. It is more of how you would introduce straightening curly hair on a head that hasn’t ever had it straightened before. Younger kids typically have more delicate hair, so it is important to straighten it with care. I highly recommend watching the video to learn how we do it.
Using Heat Protectant While Straightening Curly Hair
I can’t stress the importance of using a heat protectant enough! If there is nothing else you take away from this, please let it be the importance of using heat protectant. This should be done before blow drying, before straightening out the hair, and before doing any touch ups. Heat protectant helps create a barrier between the hair and the heat you are putting on the hair. Without heat protectant, the hair has nothing to prevent damage from the heat.
Damaged hair doesn’t curl as well. Healthy hair will keep natural curls looking good so it is really important to keep them healthy when they are being straightened out.
Blow Drying Curly Hair Straight
Unless you are a professional hair stylist, you probably aren’t going to get curls entirely straight while blow drying. Some really great tools have made it a lot easier, like my favorite blow drying brush, but it also takes a bit of practice to get it as straight as most people are going for. This doesn’t mean you should just blow dry the hair and let it go crazy! Don’t let the blow dry be a total waste of extra heat added to the hair. Use that time to try to smooth out the curls as much as you can. This will take some of the work off of the flat iron.
If you are going to be putting the heat on your hair anyway, you might as well make it worth it by letting the blow dryer do some of the work. The best way to smooth out curls with a blow dryer is to work in small sections. Use a brush to brush out the curls, while following closely behind with the blow dryer. Work your way up from section to section, until the entire head has been covered and all of the hair is completely dry.
This is why I am partial to the blow drying brush. It takes out the work of having to use a blow dryer and a brush. It is all one tool. The one thing I would warn you about is that it gets VERY hot. You shouldn’t skip the heat protectant while blow drying anyway but especially when you are using a blow drying brush. Something to be aware of too is that if you are using it on a young person, you will absolutely want to use it on a lower heat setting. This will not only help protect their delicate hair but it will also hopefully prevent you from accidentally burning them!
Using a Flat Iron on Curly Hair
I absolutely sound like a broken record but no flat iron should ever touch any strand of hair until there has been heat protectant applied. That is the first step! Use it when you are initially straightening out curls and when you do any touch ups later. Always use that heat protectant!
The next thing you want to focus on is getting the proper temperature for your hair. If your flat iron doesn’t have the ability to control the temperature, you need a new flat iron. Chances are, that flat iron is going to get way too hot and it will do more damage than it is worth. It is really important to be able to control how much heat is applied to the hair. The best way to figure out how much heat to use is to start on one of the lowest temperatures and do a slow, smooth swipe through your hair. If it straightens it, that is great. If it doesn’t do much, bump up the temperature a little bit. Continue doing this until you have the right temperature for your hair.
As you straighten the hair, be sure you work in sections. Start from the bottom and work your way up. Working in smaller sections is going to give you more control of the hair and will prevent you from having to make several passes over the hair.
When you touch up any places on other days, remember that you don’t need to completely straighten all of the hair again. Just focus on the pieces that may have bent or curled a little while you were sleeping. There is no need to straighten hair that doesn’t need it.
Extending Washes With Straightened Hair
For my young girls, I only let them wear their hair straight for about three days. I don’t want to have to touch up their hair everyday and add that unnecessary heat to it that often. For my own hair, it is a different story. I typically will wash my hair every 14 days. I know that this isn’t normal but I think that it is why my hair is as healthy as it is and I am able to wear it both straight and curly on a regular basis. When I am wearing my hair curly, I am not able to go as many days between washing my hair but I value the time between washes when I have straightened my hair out. It is worth the work to make it last!
To extend my wash, I will give my hair a very good blow dry that leaves it as smooth as I can. I will straighten it out and wear it straight for 2-4 days, depending on how well my hair holds the straightening. When my hair is straight, I try to lay it all out above my head while I sleep, so I am not laying directly on my hair. This helps prevent kinks and keeps me from having to straighten it everyday.
Using a Curling Wand
After those first few days, I will curl my hair with a curling wand. I know some people wonder why I curl my hair if I have naturally curly hair but a natural curl and a curl created from a curling wand are very different! The same principles of straightening hair apply while I am curling my hair. I always use heat protectant, make sure not to have too hot of heat, and work in sections. On the first couple of days, my hair is pretty curly but it starts to relax as the days go on.
I will sleep with my hair laying above my head on my pillow, or will pull it into a very loose ponytail on top of my head to preserve the curls as much as I can. If I can avoid doing touch ups with the curling wand, I will! Again, heat is just not great on hair. Try to avoid it as much as possible.
Products Used to Extend Washes
As far as products that I use while extending these washes, I use dry shampoo but I try to be very smart about it. Dry shampoo can really clog your pores and do more damage than good to your scalp. I only use dry shampoo when I feel like it is absolutely necessary. I have been able to build up a resistance to not needing it as often and being able to go this long between washes after over a decade of training my hair to go longer between washes. It definitely takes time to build up the space between washes but it is really important to do if you are hoping to be able to wear your hair curly and straight regularly.
I always am sure to brush my hair and scalp in the morning and at night. This helps keep your scalp happy and healthy! I will also go through the ends of my hair with a hair oil or serum to keep the ends of my hair moisturized. These are the basics I use for my wash extending schedule. I am hoping to create a more extensive post about everything I do but these are the basic rules I follow in order to keep my hair healthy enough to be able to wear it both naturally curly, straight, and curled with hot tools!
Straightening Curly Hair
I know that straightening curly hair can seem a little overwhelming. When there are so many strong opinions about doing it, it can be hard to navigate what is best for you and your hair! Remember, you are the boss of your own hair. The most important thing is to do what makes you love your hair the most. For me, I have come to love my natural curls after years of work and self acceptance but I still don’t wear it curly as often as I wear it straight. It isn’t because I am not comfortable with my natural curls but because it is easier for me to do it the other way. However you are most comfortable and happy is the best for you, as long as you remember to do what you need to to keep your hair healthy!
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