Before straightening N's hair, I couldn't help but notice that many naturals have a fear of using heat on their hair. It is obvious that heat can bring severe damage to hair, and cutting the damaged hair is the only cure. So why did I even dare to use heat on N's hair? ...Well, I wanted to show the right way of using heat, with these few tips.
The 1st step before using heat, is to prepare the hair. Start with freshly washed hair, followed by a moisturizing deep conditioning treatment. Deep conditioning helps to adsorb and dissipate heat. Hair not properly moisturized heats rapidly, and is damaged more easily.
When searching for a flat iron, use a flat iron with an adjustable temperature settings. You want to be sure that you can view the actual temperature. This is so important. Some flat irons do not show the actual temperature that the flat iron is set to. Some flat irons only have settings such as "low-medium-high." Avoid using these flat irons. Even the "low" setting can be too high for certain curl types, and can cause unwanted damage. A setting above 450 can reek havoc on your hair. Use the lowest setting, preferably high 200's to low 300's.
As I mentioned above, also use a blowdryer with temperature settings. But most importantly the "cool/cold" option. Yes, it may take a little longer to dry, vs using the hottest option. But keeping all of the heat on low, is the safest way to go. I rotate between the warm and cool option for N.
Would you sunbathe without using sunscreen? ..No. So why would you use direct heat on your hair without using some sort of protection from the heat. This is the one crucial step that many don't do. You have to protect your curls. There are several types of heat protectors such as sprays & serums. Silicones such as Dimethicone & Cyclomethicone are the best for protecting the hair, also Glycerin & Propylene Glycol. Read the bottles and lookout for these ingredients when purchasing a heat protector product.
Too Much, Too Soon
Moderation is the key to using heat. I have only blowdried N's hair twice, and flat ironed twice in her (soon to be) 8 years of life. Even if you use all of the tips above. You hair can still suffer when using heat excessively. Every day, every 3 days, or even every week, can be too much and you risking the health of your hair. Another example of too much heat, is when you go over the section of hair to be flat ironed, a bunch of times. It is recommended to smooth the flat iron over the hair, no more than twice (3 times max for courser hair.) Do not leave the flat iron on a certain spot (I did this all the time as a preteen.. -sad face-). But glide the flat iron down the hair shaft, at a medium pace. Also the Chase-Comb Method is great for getting the hair straighter with one pass of the flat iron.