Is It Safe To Straighten Your Hair Often?

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The best thing about hair is its transformative power. For people with natural hair, your hair can go from a shrunken fro to a sleek bob in a matter of a few hours. While it's always fun to embrace the coils, curls, and waves that are within your hair, some people love the glossy look of straightened hair. For others, it's their way of getting an accurate portrayal of their hair growth by doing a length check.

If you can't seem to leave your hair straightener alone, the question of how often you can straighten your hair safely probably never popped into your mind until you saw the havoc that heat damage can wreak on one's precious strands. Whether you're straightening your hair using a flat iron every day or straightening it once a week with a blow dryer, knowing how often you're allowed to straighten your hair can save you from damage and brittle strands.

How often can you straighten your hair?

For straight and wavy hair types that are in relatively good health, you shouldn't straighten your hair more than two or three times a week using a blow dryer, per Byrdie. While that number should be adjusted based on the width and health of your strands, three times is the maximum amount in order to avoid any damage to the hair. If your hair is on the fine side, you may want to limit the number of times you're straightening your hair. With less protein in the strand structure, it can look thin and limp, as well as break frequently.

Much more delicate and prone to breakage, type three and four natural hair should be straightened no more than once a month. With its fine texture and fragile strands, the more coily natural hair is, the more prone to breakage the strands are. Using heat too often can break down the natural keratin in the hair and change the structure and elasticity of the hair, changing the curl pattern permanently, per Pattern Beauty. Without the proper amount of keratin, it also weakens the hair, making it snap and break much more easily.

Prep the hair properly before straightening

The pre-straightening hair care routine ensures that you get the best results and also avoid any damage to the hair. It's best to start out on clean, washed hair before applying heat to the strands. Before the flat iron touches straight hair, you also want to wash and dry it beforehand. To prevent a breakdown in protein and structure, use a shampoo that's rich in protein. You can towel dry your hair or use a blow dryer to get rid of moisture. For natural hair, using an anti-frizzing shampoo can help maintain your hair from humidity that may cause your hair to frizz up. Since heat can reduce the amount of keratin in your hair structure, you can also use a protein treatment the week before you plan on straightening your hair. 

When it comes to straightening the hair, divide it into four to six large sections, depending on the density of your hair, per Allure. Starting from the back, work with a small amount of hair at a time and use a silicone heat protectant to create a protective barrier. Follow the chase method and position a small rat-tail comb below the flat iron as you move down.

To reduce the amount of heat that's going to be on your hair, put your blow dryer on low heat when stretching the hair out prior to straightening. 

How to care for your straightened hair

Once you're done straightening the hair, don't put it up immediately. At this stage, it can easily break from hair bands, so it's best to leave it be. Just like you would do after a silk press, wrap your natural hair and sleep with a bonnet or silk pillowcase to prevent frizz or your curls reverting back. If you work out often, invest in a sweat-wicking headband like the Dasuta Workout Headbands to prevent sweat and moisture from ruining your straightened hair.

If you're accustomed to your straightened hair, then you'll probably notice when something is off. If your hair doesn't feel smooth when you run your fingers through them, isn't shiny, sheds constantly, and feels perpetually dry, you probably have heat damage. If you have curly or wavy hair, washing your hair will make the brittle, unusually loose curls more prominent.

For straight hair, you'll want to trim off the split ends and then focus on rebuilding the natural proteins in your hair. Using strengthening, moisturizing leave-in treatments with ingredients like honey or yogurt will help to revive your strands. To bring natural hair back to life, trim away the ends, as well. For your coily hair, you'll want to use hydrating deep conditioners that will allow your hair to take in moisture. Install low-tension protective styles like flat twists and wigs or knotless braids to protect your brittle ends.

Get the best products for straightening your hair

If you're going to straighten your hair, there are some products to help you do it safely. Great for all hair types, the CHI 44 Iron Guard Thermal Protection Spray prevents heat damage to the strands by sealing the hair cuticle. A weightless spray, it doesn't cause buildup on the hair and contains vitamins and proteins to maintain the strength and structure of the hair.

For a straightener that prevents hair damage, try the L'ange Hair Le Duo 360 Airflow Styler. Both a straightener and curler, the styler has cooling air vents that maintain the temperature, preventing it from heating up too much and damaging the hair. To get rid of frizz before you flat iron your hair, use the Briogeo Farewell Frizz Smoothing Shampoo. Formulated with rosehip and argan oil, this sulfate-free shampoo cuts down on flyaways and static to give you smooth, straightened hair. Use the Tropic Isle Living Jamaican Black Castor Oil Protein Conditioner to strengthen natural hair a week before you straighten it. Made with Vitamin E and grapeseed and avocado oil, it decreases breakage and promotes moisture retention in coily hair.

For heat-damaged strands, use the Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate Leave-in Conditioner. Suitable for all textures and hair types, this vegan product tames frizz and balances the pH level of your hair, while leaving a fresh scent of bergamot, rose, and sandalwood.