Should you straighten your Natural Hair? The answer to this question depends on what your hair goals are. If you desire to maintain 100% of the integrity or your natural hair's curl pattern and the texture of your virgin natural hair then the answer is likely No. If you opt to cut your hair regularly and or keep it short you may be able to press or straighten your hair and keep it healthy looking by removing the damaged ends regularly.
The minimal use of heat such as using hooded hair dryers where the hair is protected and wound on hair rollers preventing direct heat exposure to the hair ends and shaft will do little damage to the hair especially when conditioned properly. However, the use of direct heat implements such as flat irons and blow dryers where the heat is applied directly to the hair shaft and ends to make the hair "bone" straight will certainly affect the integrity of the hair's natural curl pattern even after one staightening treatment.
Why does the hair become damaged when using direct heat to straighten the hair? It is because in order to get the hair completely straight you must disrupt the protein bonds of the hair. The extreme heat needed to straighten the hair will cause these protein bonds to be slightly broken down each time the hair is heat treated. The more often the hair is straightened the more the bonds will be broken down, causing the hair to lose it's natural curl pattern more and more each time the hair is pressed.
Depending on the hair's texture it may require more aggressive straightening to get the hair as straight and silky as one may desire. The straighter the hair texture is naturally the less heat will be required. This is why some can heat style their hair with minimal heat damage and others experience more damage. The type of process used to straighten the hair will also affect how damaging it will be to the hair. To minimize damage, especially if the hair texture is tighter, more corse and harder to straighten, opt for more indirect ways of straightening, stretching or loosening the hair, such as roller setting. Roller setting will allow you to set the hair in a way that it will straighten naturally as much as it can based on it's natural curl pattern without forcing it to straighten beyond it's natural ability and what is healthy for your particular curl patten and or texture. Heat damage occurs when the hair is forced to straighten far beyond it's natural curl patten using extreme heat and tension.
Many who have been trying to grow their natural hair have found that the hair only grows to a certain point but never to their desired length. If you are pressing your hair or using heat implements on a regular basis this could be the problem. Also trimming the ends regularly, especially if you are heat treating your hair, is a must. This is because heat treating the hair will cause the ends to split. If these ends are not trimmed they will travel up the hair shaft and cause uneven hair breakage and thinning.
If you have made the decision to "grow" natural, learn to accept your hair's natural texture without comparing it to that of others. Learn the options you have for changing and increasing your style options without damaging it with the excessive use of heat and tension.
If you have any additional questions or concerns about your natural or transitioning hair issues please feel free to leave us your comment or question below. We will respond as soon a possible.