How To Straighten Thick Natural Black Hair Without Heat Damage

Young girl with pressed hair with a flower in her hairDon’t compromise your curls for the sake of the style!

Imagine being able to wear your natural curly or kinky hair straight week after week while still retaining length and avoiding the dreaded heat damage. Let’s face it, some of us prefer not to use relaxers on our hair but we enjoy wearing our hair straight from time to time (or even all the time!) but don’t want to risk our strands.

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Let’s get started . . .

When thinking of straightening your natural black hair you must first understand that straight hair is just another hairstyle. People with naturally straight hair will always want to add curls and people with curls will always want to straighten their hair occasionally. It’s human nature! Learning to care for your hair in its natural state should make up the bulk of your hairstyles with straightening only being one of them. This mindset will greatly improve the overall health of your hair!

Now that you have made the decision to get your natural hair straight, you must be prepared. Any styling that involves applying heat to the hair can be damaging but it’s not all doom and gloom! There are certain ways you can arm yourself against heat damage and give you the sleek style you want for that special event whilst not compromising your lovely kinks and curls.

Here’s how:

•First things first, pick the best straightener for your needs, a tourmaline ionic one would be the best but a ceramic one will do just as well.

• Before attempting any straightening, the hair should be completely clean and freshly deep conditioned with a penetrating conditioner. Deep conditioning gives hair that added bit of moisture so that it doesn’t dry out completely during the heat styling process. Some low molecular weight conditioners especially those containing cetrimonium bromide will also help combat against heat damage.

• Apply a leave in conditioner as well as a good heat protectant and comb through the length of the hair to evenly distribute the product. Choose a heat protectant with glycerine as this has been shown in studies to prevent excessive moisture loss. A silicone serum heat protectant can also be used in addition for an extra smooth finish.

• Black people have a variety of hair textures which can be straightened in different ways depending on the thickness and the degree of curl. Loosely curled or coiled hair can be straightened and smoothed out with just a roller set on large rollers (Read the article ‘How to cheat at roller setting’). Thicker hair will require a bit more attention and heat.

• It is important to ‘pre – stretch’ the hair before straightening as this gives the best results. For the sleekest results it is best to blow dry damp hair in sections as straight as you can get it on a medium temperature. There is no need to use high heat as this can be damaging to the hair and never blow dry when the hair is dripping wet. You can also pre-stretch the hair by air drying it in large braids or twists but the final results will not be as smooth and you may end up losing more hair to breakage when you come to flat iron the air dried hair.

• Now that the hair is dry and stretched, you can move on to flat ironing or pressing. At this stage you can apply a little more heat protection serum. You must always use a temperature controlled appliance for this part of the straightening. This is why stove heated pressing combs and irons are not recommended as the temperatures can get quite high and literally burn your hair!

• Set your flat iron on a medium temperature (around 315°F/157°C) and beginning from the back in small sections, begin to flat iron or press the hair. Raise or lower the temperature of the appliance slightly as needed and only pass over each section twice. Use the lowest temperature at which you are able to get good results. You want the hair to be straight but left with a bit of body and bounce.

•  You will find the ‘comb-chase method’ particularly useful for straightening natural hair leaving you with sleek straight hair from root to tip. What you do is take a small section of hair and run a fine tooth comb or brush down the section using one hand while ‘chasing’ with the flat iron held in the other hand. Be warned, this requires an ability to use both hands at once! Otherwise pick a straightener that comes with a comb already attached.

• Straighten the rest of the hair in this manner then apply a small amount of an anti humectant pomade to keep your hair from reverting before your next wash day. Good ones are Aveda Brilliant Anti-Humectant and Sabino Moisture block.

• To get your hair super flat, wrap it around your head (essentially using your head as 1 big roller) applying bobby pins where necessary to hold the hair in place. Cover your hair in saran wrap (cling film) and sit under a hooded dryer for 10-15 minutes. This is called silk wrapping. Alternatively, wrap your hair overnight in a silk scarf to remove some of the volume.

To save the style at night, you can wrap your hair again or tie it into a loose ponytail or pin it up and cover with a satin scarf or bonnet. Be sure to moisturize your ends daily with a good moisturizer to keep them healthy until your next wash. So there you have it, getting your natural hair straight is not difficult at all and with these tips, you should be able to get a sleek press at home!

Quick tip – If you like the extra sleek (relaxer straight) look then all you have to to is add a bit of coconut oil before or right after flat ironing, coconut oil is not a heat protectant however so don’t treat it as one! Remember, your final results have less to do with the temperature of the heat you use than your technique, styling tools and products and this goes for even the kinkiest of hair types! Read more in-depth information on choosing the right temperature to use.



15 Ways To Get Longer Healthier Hair


About Alma

Hi! I'm Alma Ruddock, a full time blogger. I stumbled on a hair care forum in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair forever!.I started as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to bring new information about hair on both this website and my personal blog.

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  1. 1

    Thanks for the info! I’ve been natural for a little less than a year and my hair grows fast so I had to figure out a way to fit my fro under the cap for graduation. lol

  2. 2
    Rlbush83 says:

    Thank you I will be definitely trying this

  3. 3
    Adnan_khan201134 says:

    how i can straight my hair? 

  4. 5
    Roddyjonestrading says:

    Love the seran wrap technique. I actually forgot about this. An old beautician of mine use to do this. We move often with my husband being in th Navy. I’ve recently decided to do my own hair to save a few bucks, so the seran wrap will be used.

  5. 6
    Demetrius Satterwhite says:

    I’ve been natural for 2 years now,my problem is during the summer i’ve to keep braids because of the humidity my hair tends to curl back up.My question is what to do about this??

  6. 7
    Faith joseph says:

    thanks this really works

  7. 8

    thanks for the tips, although I also use sometimes my flat iron with a good heat protector, I use the karmin G3 Salon Pro and it has tourmaline ceramic plates which is great because causes lee damage to the hair, plus my hair looks amazing, healthy, soft, shiny and super straight. :D

  8. 9
    Scandybille says:

    thanks for the tips but my hair is soo hard that i cant comb it for it to disentangle.what do i do?

    • 10

      Please take a look at this article on detangling natural hair The key thing to note is never to detangle natural hair while it is dry. Always comb when it is wet and coated with conditioner or a detangling shampoo

  9. 11

    I flat ironed my daughters hair and it seems I am never able to get the ends of her hair as straight as the rest. It’s always frizzy, poofy, and a harder than the rest. What products should I use to get a more polished look from root to end?

  10. 12

    I’m african american (texturized/semi-relaxed hair) and I get my hair straightened in a salon about every 12 weeks. Once I wash my hair I go back to the natural looks because straightening my hair on my own has never turned out right…not nearly as nice as when I leave the salon. 

    Well, with Shielo’s Antioxidant Leave in Protectant I was TRULY amazed!! Normally my hair would straighten but the ends would be dry and stiff and I’d end up with a frizzy mess after straightening. With the Shielo Antioxidant protectant it is silky smooth, light-weight and bouncy and NO greasy film! I can wear my shades on my head with out a greasy mess, lol. I blow dry my hair and part in 4 sections. I then apply a dime-sized amount to each section…so as other have said, a little goes a long ways! I’ve gotten SO many compliments!

  11. 15

    The best thing for long lasting straightness is a Karmin G3 Salon Pro, I use it all the time and my hair looks shiny and conditioner.

  12. 16

    Very true, a tourmaline flat iron is excellent for african american hair as this hair type needs the least time of heat exposure possible and tourmaline’s ionic technology achieves it. At my salon we use Karmin G3 Salon Pro Styling irons because they have the best tourmaline and ceramic plates. They haven’t failed on a single customer and the results are perfectly professional. But this also depends on the pre-treatment of the hair, ALWAYS use a good heat protectant. Try Argan oil (not greasy at all) for those with dry and frizzy strands. We use Pro Naturals Moroccan Argan oil because it has no sulfates, parabens or silicones so it’s great for colored and chemically treated hair. :) Hope this was of some help to someone!

  13. 17
    Danielle says:

    i am 18 and everywhere i go the people at salons say i have enough hair for 3 people!! it takes me about two hours to straighten it but even then it looks sooo thick and after one day it doesnt stay straight. some people have told me i should get my hair thinned, but im concerned it will ruin my hair. what should i do?

    • 18

      My advice would be don’t thin your hair, it is a mess as it grows in. I would say relax before you thin, but better not to relax. Can you just grow to love the thick poofiness as is, and experiment with styles that while they are not straight and flat to your head, they are neat and stylish? My natural hair rarely stays straight for a few days, and I did the relaxer thing for many many years when I was younger and had kids, but I am returning to natural– and I am having to just come to terms that I will have big hair from here on.

    • 19
      HappilyNaturalLit26 says:

      try fantasia heat treatment….trust me it will stay straight long time

  14. 20

    i would like a method on how to srtaighten hair without heat or using a fan or blow dryer on the cool side…
    i need it asap pls!
    i want the method before school starts!
    thx soo much1

    • 21

      Hi Teen, I found this video on YT on straightening natural hair with a fan. It’s not likely to work for highly textured black hair though!

  15. 22

    misshale , that means she has terrible dead ends try to trim them every 6 weeks

  16. 23

    Smoke free hair protecting regimen! Hair is made of proteins and flat ironing hair destroys the protein. I do protein treatments with Nutress Hair protein packs every time I wash and flatiron my hair. I also use the Nutress Stop Break Leave-in-Conditioner and Foam Wrap to protect my hair before I blow dry and flat iron it. My hair always feels protected and stays healthy despite the heat! Check them out the products are so versatile and AFFORDABLE.

  17. 24

    I use the Pro Naturals heat protectant and a Karmin g3 straightener. My hair doesn’t look ONE BIT damaged :) This combination is the bomb, I recommend girls with natural hair to use that heat protectant, it’s the best one you can get (it’s only available online though).

  18. 25

    Great article,thanks

  19. 26
    chandni qambrani says:

    hello allama iam black living in pakistan..iam worried about my hairs..they are too much curly and short.. and in pakistan there is no product for afro hairs..please guide me as soon as u can dear

  20. 28

    I’m so late with this but when do you apply the coconut oil, before the heat protectant (before flat ironing) or after you apply the heat protectant (before you flat iron)?

    • 29

      Better late than never Liz. I use coconut oil after heat protectant personally. I can’t imagine that there would be too much wrong with doing it the other way around though :)

  21. 30

    I would like someone with 4 hair to make something like this or comment on their trial and errors. I have much thicker hair and would love something out there for women like me. This is just not very helpful but great thought

  22. 31

    i have always had natural black african hair . i am purely kenyan. when i was young i had long beautiful healthy hair. around the age of 11. i shaved all my hair . stayed till the age of 14 and started re growing my hair. but it wount grow back as before . i admit it might be because of heat damage but i have reduce to blow drying my hair once a month. what can i do. there is no major change help please:(

  23. 32

    I’ve bought myself a HSI hair straightener. I was naive enough to think that all I need is to turn it on and it will do the rest. It seems that much more steps need to be done if I want the hair straightener to give me a more optimal result. Thanks for the tips and advices!

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