Most often when someone asks how to straighten their hair without straighteners they are referring to the use of chemical straighteners that are highly caustic and can ruin hair. In fact, in the hands of an untrained person, those chemical straighteners and relaxers can cause irrevocable damage to the hair follicle. For this reason, most people would like to find a foolproof technique to strengthen nappy curls and overzealous waves without chemicals.
Understanding the Dangers of Chemical Straighteners
Unless you have ever studied cosmetology, you may be unaware of just how strong those chemical relaxers are. Sometime take a look at the main active ingredient in Drano, that foul smelling chemical you use to unclog drains, and a lye based relaxer. Most often you will see that it is the same ingredient, sodium hydroxide. Wow! Think about that for just a moment.
The same substance that dissolves hair in the drain is being put on your hair to straighten the helix (curve). It alters the actual molecular structure. If used incorrectly, it can also damage or kill the follicle from which the hair grows. Although there are less dangerous straighteners on the market today, they are chemicals nonetheless and many consumers choose to avoid them.
Straightening Hair With a Hair Iron
Within the past decade or two it has become fashionable to use hair irons, often referred to as hair straighteners, to relax curly or wavy hair. It is the consensus among professionals that ceramic plates are not only the most efficient, but the safest on your hair. There are a number of different types of hair iron plates, including:
- Nano Ceramic Tourmaline
- Ceramic Tourmaline
- Sapphire Ceramic
- Nano Titanium
While each of those types are used on some of the best selling hair irons, either Nano Ceramic Tourmaline or Nano Titanium are preferred because of the polymer nanotechnology coating that makes the surface smooth and helps distribute the heat more evenly long the hair shaft.
How to Straighten Hair With an Iron
When you use a hair iron to straighten your hair, remember that heat can damage your hair so take extra precautions. The first thing you are going to do is shampoo and condition your hair as you normally would. It is suggested that you may want to leave the conditioner in a bit longer than usual as extra protection against heat damage. Get as much moisture out and spray each section with a leave-in conditioner before blow drying. Once your hair is dry you are ready to use the hair iron. The following steps are general guidelines, but if you follow them, you should have silky smooth hair when you are finished.
1. Section your hair in half – top and bottom.
2. Put the top hair in a clip to keep out of the way.
3. Spray the bottom section with a good quality protective spray.
4. Section the bottom half into tiny sections no larger than 1 to 2 inches.
5. Before ironing each tiny section comb to remove tangles.
6. Place the iron as close to the scalp as possible and clamp.
7. Pull the iron as smoothly as possible in one movement.
8. Continue around the bottom half in small sections.
9. Unclip top section and spray with the protective spray.
10. Section and iron in the same manner as the bottom half.
11. Check in mirror all the way around head for any missed spots.
12. Carefully re-iron any sections that are not smooth.
13. Take a tiny amount of silicone based hair shine and carefully work it into your hair.
Don’t panic if you should see any steam when using the iron. There may be some remaining dampness from shampooing or the protective spray. As long as you don’t leave the iron in one spot for more than a few moments it should not burn your hair. Just remember to stay as close to the scalp as possible without touching the scalp to avoid burns. Also, only use a tiny, tiny amount of hair shine or your hair will be sticky instead of sleek.
Alternate Techniques for Straightening Hair
Many women who don’t have extremely curly hair will simply use a blow dryer to straighten waves. You can section it much the same way as described above and pull the blow dryer through the hair in tiny sections, putting extra tension while pulling the brush through as the hot air hits the section you are drying. Then there is the technique that was quite popular in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Everyone wanted long straight hair like Cher so they simply ironed their hair with a flat iron on the ironing board! Of course this method only works if you have hair well beyond the shoulders in length, but it does work, believe it or not!
Although you won’t be using chemical straighteners, there is still a risk of burning yourself if you are not careful. The only difference is the burn will be from heat and not from caustic chemicals. Take the time to thoroughly read the manufacturer’s directions before attempting to use a hair straightening iron. In fact, there are even videos online that you could watch to see how to manipulate the iron for both safety and efficacy. Once you learn to use that iron your hair will be luxuriantly smooth and no one will know you didn’t have a chemical procedure at the shop!