With the help of hot tools, you can change up your hairstyle about as frequently as you change your underwear—and in the case of curly hair, that might mean straightening it on the reg. But even if you’re taking excellent care of your hair, repeated heat usage can loosen your curl pattern through a process known as heat training. As long as you’re doing it safely, this process isn’t necessarily bad for your strands, but it may require you to sacrifice your natural curl pattern. So how do you straighten hair without damaging curls? Celebrity hairstylist Sabrina Porsche is here to share the answer.
Porche has 4a/4b curls and wears her hair straight quite often. She’s also constantly working with clients with textured hair, so she knows exactly how to prevent curls from loosening after repeated straightening. Keep reading for the four tips to keep in mind if you want to straighten hair without damaging curls.
How to straighten hair without damaging curls
1. Limit how often you use heat
Heat straightens hair by breaking down disulfide bonds, which are the chemical bonds that give your hair its texture. When these bonds are repeatedly broken, your hair might not get as curly as it used to. To prevent this, you need to use heat sparingly—once every two months, max. And that means *once* every two months, not one big straighten and then a bunch of touch-ups in the days that follow. If your hair is properly prepared, and you take steps to preserve your style, you shouldn’t need to apply more heat after the initial styling.
“Even if you’re using a heat protectant and great flat irons and stuff, you’re still putting heat on your hair, so there’s always going to be a little bit of damage,” says Porche. “Also, you don’t want to keep putting all that product in your hair. Because I feel like every time I go in with any kind of heat in my hair, I’m putting something on my hair. So you’re building up product as well as putting heat on top of that product, which is just sizzling your hair.”
With that in mind, if you want to maintain the integrity of your curls, you should be treating your straightening routine as a “once in a while” styling option instead of an everyday occurrence.
2. Use an oil-based heat protectant
Any time you use hot tools, prepping your strands with a heat protectant should be a non-negotiable. To get your hair silky smooth and help prolong the style, Porche recommends using an oil-based heat protectant. Her go-to product is the Mizani Thermasmooth Smooth Guard Smoothing Serum ($20).
“It’s my favorite, and it works great—I use it on all my clients when I want to get their hair bone straight,” she says. “That’s kind of my secret weapon because my aunts used it on me when I was a little girl growing up.”
She adds that oil-based heat protectants, like this one, are best tolerated on coarser hair, which tends to be dryer. But, they can still work for finer hair textures; you just have to use less product.
3. Use good heat tools
Porche, who works with GHD, swears by the brand’s Helios blow dryer ($270) and Platinum+ Styler flat iron ($279). She blows out her hair using the dryer then straightens it with the flat iron. The Platinum+ Styler is her “favorite tool of all time because it can get as bone straight as possible” without using too much heat, she says. All GHD tools stay at a safer-for-hair temperature of 365°F. The brand found that this is the hottest temperature you can use to minimize damage while still achieving a great look.
I’m personally a massive fan of the Dyson Supersonic hairdryer ($399) and the Dyson Corrale flat iron ($499). I use my supersonic with the comb attachment, and I’m always amazed at how quickly and well my hair is blown out. I love the Corrale because it’s cordless and features flexing copper plates that allow me to achieve an amazing style with less heat. This tool has three set temperatures: 330°F, 365°F, and 410°F.
4. Keep your hair moisturized
Putting heat on your hair can cause it to dry out—and dry hair is brittle hair, which is more prone to breakage. To keep your strands healthy all the time—but especially while you wear them straight—Porche says to make sure they’re completely moisturized. “Always keep moisture in your hair,” she says. “Always, always, always, always. I can’t stress that enough.”
To moisturize your hair without causing frizz, use a nourishing oil like the Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Oil ($28). It’s made with a chemical compound that works to strengthen hair by finding single-sulfur hydrogen bonds and crosslinking them back together to form disulfide bonds, plus grape seed oil to protect and nourish hair and fermented green tea oil to provide much-needed nutrition.
5. Do everything you can to preserve the style
Before you go to bed at night, wrap your hair with silk or satin to keep it in place while you sleep. “I wrap my hair every night,” says Porche. “Wrapping my hair actually preserves my hairstyle, and it’ll keep my hair straight for as long as I can until my hair starts growing out at the root, and then I may have to go back and apply heat again.”
And if you work out, use a sweat-wicking product like Gymwrap by Nicole Ari Parker ($21) to hold your hair down to prevent swelling from sweat while wicking away sweat. The key is to keep it on until your sweat is dry.
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