Blow Drying and Flat Ironing Techniques for Natural Hair

flat-ironing-and-blow-drying-pic-from-thebeautilabSource: thebeautilab.com

Sure, you love your curls and kinks, otherwise you wouldn’t be natural. Sometimes, though, you may want to change things up. Naturalistas often opt for a straight hair style when they want a new look, to do a length check, or when trimming or cutting their hair. Whatever your reason, sleek, smooth natural hair from heat styling results from the right technique. If you’re transitioning, creating a straight style can be a bit of a challenge but has great rewards if you can blend the two textures. Your blow out method won’t be much different, and the flat iron techniques you use will be similar too. The major difference may be the increased amount of time it takes to style your hair, so you’ll want to make sure you have the patience and can devote the right amount of time to achieve your desired look.

Start with clean, conditioned tresses. Check out our wash day routine for some quick tips and tricks. Make sure you moisturize your hair well, try Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Leave-In Conditioner on wet hair. Be sure your hair is fully detangled and allow it to mostly air dry before you begin to blow dry. Remember, the best way to handle heat damage is to prevent it.

blow-drying-natural-hair-650x400
Source: naturallycurly.com

To blow out natural hair, try a larger brush like the ghd Paddle Brush. Work in small sections. Hold the blow dryer away from your hair and begin at the root and swiftly smooth the brush through hair, moving the blow dryer along with it. Repeat twice or so to achieve desired sleekness. Follow up with a cool shot.

For further sleekness, consider these flat iron techniques. Continue to work with hair in small sections and apply a little hair oil (try Coconut Shea Styling Assortment’s Hair Oil from Eden Bodyworks). Slowly move the flat iron through, from root down to tip, repeating no more than once or twice.

flat-ironSource: thankgodimnatural.com

Protect your style by sleeping wearing a satin bonnet or on a satin pillowcase.

A Bumper Has No Name

ID-100266414 Image courtesy Stuart Miles/Freedigitalphotos.net

I was scrolling through a professional photo album from a local racing event when in the midst of photos featuring cars, racing action and spectators of the event, I suddenly found myself face to “face” with a butt. The buttocks in question was large, round, took up most of the photo frame, and I had questions. Who does this butt belong to? Did they enjoy the racing event? Do they know that their butt is randomly featured in an album otherwise dedicated to showcasing the cars and crowd at the event?

It’s common for albums online to have a heavy emphasis on photos of attractive women attending events, but this particular photo didn’t fall into that category. It wasn’t a picture of a woman. It was just a butt. From the angle and distance it was taken, it didn’t seem like the owner of the butt…

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Styling Natural Hair with Heat Damage

Heat damage. Let’s be honest, it’s awful. If you have chemically straightened hair it can be a bit easier to hide. However, natural hair heat damage is far too obvious to hide when you have coils and texture. The kinkier your hair, the more disastrous heat damage is to your style. We tend to be in denial about it too. We think, “Oh, just a few washes and my hair will bounce right back to normal,” or “I’ll just do a longer conditioning treatment and I’ll get my curls back.”

heat-damaged-natural-hair-looks-like-what-largeNatural Hair Heat Damage
[Image via Google: www.rukhnama.com]

Face it, natural hair heat damage cannot be ignored. How do you know if it’s happened to you? It has that limp look. You’ll have an uneven curl pattern, and your ends will be brittle, dry and straighter than the rest of your hair. And you’ll just overall have a really hard time styling your hair. Next up? Hair breakage. There are products on the market that claim to repair heat damage but it just puts a Band-Aid on the issue. Once those bonds have been broken there’s no reversing the alteration of your hair’s structure. You can try updos, buns or protective styles as you grow your hair and prevent it from further damage, as the only way to remedy the situation is to cut off the damage.

Your best bet? Prevent natural hair heat damage from happening. Here’s how:

Commit to only heat styling freshly shampooed hair. Make sure to only heat style natural hair on clean, conditioned and completely dry hair. (Think the 3 c’s if that helps you remember). See our wash day routine if you need to revamp yours.

Prepare your hair for heat styling. Use a heat protectant that creates a conditioning barrier to help your hair respond to your hot tools without permanently changing its structure.

Air dry before blow drying. Otherwise you risk using too much heat, as you’ll be trying to both dry and smooth your hair. Unless you’re a professional, allow your hair to be mostly dry and it’ll be less time you’ll have to subject it to heat. If you want to shorten drying time, consider using a hooded dryer to start the process. Even better, skip straightening all together and use that hooded dryer for a wet set.

Use the right tools. Purchase blow dryers, curling wands and flat irons that have options to adjust the heat setting (the more options the better). Use ceramic or tourmaline products designed to evenly distribute heat to your hair. Always use the lowest heat setting, and avoid running styling tools over the same sections of hair more than two to three times. If it takes more effort to achieve your style, you may want to work on perfecting your technique.

Choosing to be natural does not have to mean you can’t change up your style every now and then. The key is to be careful to maintain your hair’s natural curl pattern.

Surviving Wash Day: Tips for Washing Natural Hair

The dreaded wash day. If you’ve recently transitioned from the creamy crack, you may have found that washing natural hair is now more tedious depending on your hair texture. When I transitioned back in 2000, I was ill-informed about what wash day would mean for me. I used the same products, didn’t work in sections, and wondered why I had ended up with a matted mess. Now I know: washing natural hair is a little bit more involved and requires a bit of patience, but do it right and you’ll get good results every time.

Step 1: Pre-poo and Detangle

pre-poo[image via Pinterest @DeeDee2DaXtreme]

Pre-poo means exactly what you think it would, it is your pre-shampoo step. When washing natural hair, it’s a good idea to minimize tangling and breakage. Using a product before you shampoo, think coconut oil or a favorite conditioner, can weigh down hair that’s been shed but hasn’t fallen out, preventing them from creating tangles in your locks and breaking off your hair. Divide your hair into 4-6 sections and work the product through. Then leave in for 15- 30 minutes (some naturalistas leave the pre-poo in overnight before wash day). Detangle your hair in the sections using a wide tooth comb.

Step 2: Shampoo

Continue to work section by section as you rinse out your pre-poo and apply shampoo. You’ll want to wash each section twice. Consider using a clarifying, sulfate free shampoo. These products thoroughly clean your hair without over drying. Don’t rush through this. Take your time, working from root to tip. When washing natural hair, it’s important not to pile all your hair on top as you go (it’s more likely to tangle that way). Many naturalistas prefer to wash their hair in the shower to make this process easier.

Step 3: Condition

You’ll want to apply conditioner to your hair in sections. Deep conditioning may be necessary after each wash. If you’re in the shower, consider using a conditioning cap to help the product further penetrate your hair. If you’re using a more extensive conditioner like a protein or restructuring treatment, you’ll likely want to sit under a hooded dryer for 15 minutes or more. After rinsing, try a cool water rinse to seal your hair cuticle.

Step 4: Detangle
detangle pic
[image via YouTube @Tiajonay]

Yes, detangle again. It’s so easy for natural hair to knot up it’s ridiculous, so all the detangling you do on wash day prevents those fairy knots (or more major ones) from forming. Continue to work section by section and apply your favorite leave-in conditioner or “detangler”. Gently use a wide-tooth comb to remove tangles, keeping your hair as wet as possible along the way. Some naturalistas only detangle with their fingers, others follow up the wide tooth comb with the Denman brush. Do what works for you, but be gentle and patient in the process.

Step 5: Moisturize

Choosing a great moisturizer is important, and can be a bit about trial and error. You’ll likely need a heavier product than one you used with relaxed hair, but something that won’t leave a lot of buildup. The key is to lock in moisture now before styling. Work in your moisturizer in, you guessed it, section by section using a small amount of product at a time.

Step 6: Dry and style

It’s finally time to style your hair. Whether you decide to wet set, blow dry, braid, or twist, the right product is important to define your texture to create a style that lasts and is protected from potential damage from heat and manipulation.

Washing natural hair seems complicated, but with a routine in place it’ll become second nature, I promise. What’s your wash day routine? What products help you create your favorite hair styles?