Natural hair is versatile! One benefit of being natural is the ability to wear your hair straight or curly. Back in the day, women would wear their hair in reverse styles like a Texturizer or a Wave Nouveau. Each chemical process, stretched out natural curls and made straightening a breeze as well. But the cost and upkeep of chemical curl relaxants was costly, and most of all, the products used to maintain those styles were damaging to clothing, bedding and furniture.
Today, there are many products on the market targeting curly heads around the world, offering ‘safe’ ways to straighten those curls. But if it isn’t cost, it is upkeep when you invest in these systems.
Keratin Treatments are loved because of the shine and bounce they add to the hair. They are said to strengthen the hair and last a long time. They are also used in conjunction with Brazilian and Dominican blowouts. Each is a fancy name for an age old method to straighten curly hair, with the addition of products that contain chemicals in them. Sure, the Keratin is great because it naturally occurs in our own hair, but with other chemicals and ingredients like formaldehyde, it is just as bad as getting a chemical relaxer in your hair. When you look at the dos and don’ts of getting Keratin treatments or blowouts, you can do LESS with your hair than you can do with a relaxer.
For instance, you can’t wash your hair right away, and it is recommended to wear your hair in a ponytail to keep the straightness; it is also recommended to keep products out of your hair, avoid swimming and harsh workouts, etc. It’s like entrapment.
There are new ‘organic’ products on the market promising to permanently straighten cury hair like the Cleopatra, which costs $100 per application and requires up to 6 applications to permanently straighten hair forever. Many products boast about containing natural ingredients like Shea Butter, Olive Oil, Tea Tree or other herbs and oils. But these products that permanently straighten hair are transforming the hair from its natural texture to bone straight strands.
So how do you choose which products to purchase? What is safe? What is organic? What is acceptable to stay natural? Believe it or not, there are natural ways to straighten the hair, without the use of chemicals. This will not forever alter your hair’s texture, although some may stretch your curls over time.
One of the first techniques to stretch your curls is by banding. Banding is something that was done dating back to Slavery. Women would use some type of cloth or fabric and wrap their hair from the scalp to the ends, pulling taut to stretch the hair out. This minimized shrinkage as well. Other ways that banding can be done is by using cloth pony tail holders, and placing them at intervals along the length of sections of your hair.
Another way to stretch your curls is to plait the hair at night or after a wash. You can make large sections of hair, depending on how long and thick your hair is, and make thick braids. This helps stretch the hair and makes for a lovely wavy look, if the hair is actually wet when this is done.
Thick cornrows and flat twists are also a great way to stretch your hair. You can do so on dry hair, to keep the curls stretched and as straight as possible between shampooing.
Twists and Bantu Knots also can elongate your curls. They should be large enough to ensure that you are stretching the hair as opposed to creating texture like crinkles.
Heat Training is the final way that many naturals prefer to stretch their curls. Some do so by flat ironing once a week, or using a hand held blow dryer with an attachment. Be careful not to scorch the hair when using heat and also be sure to use caution with comb attachments. Work in small sections to prevent the comb from breaking during a blow drying session.
A part of heat styling is also the traditional Roller set. You roll your hair after a wash on the largest sized roller your hair can handle. Then sit under a bonnet or hood style dryer. The hair smoothed onto the roller really stretches out curls and straightens the hair, especially if your hair is fine or thinner than other’s hair may be. For thicker hair, use smaller rollers but be sure that the hair is smoothed onto the rollers at the ends to get an even, smooth finish. Often, once the rollers are removed, some may flat iron the hair as well, to smooth out some of the bend from the rollers.