There was no Oprah “Aha!” moment. I wasn’t ridden with any guilt about relaxing the curls I have never known. Deciding to go natural came – as cliché as it may seem – quite naturally. I was away at college in a small town 300 miles away from my mother’s kitchen perms and bonded with my new growth as a collegiate person. There was no big chop. There was no TWA. There was just me, far away from home and learning that the hair I had been fighting with chemicals for 15 years could be tamed with a little blow-drying and a flat iron.
It wasn’t until post-grad that I began to explore natural hair without heat manipulation—a feat that was challenged by every hash-tagged “Throwback Thursday” photo of college-aged me with cute bangs or a sharp bob. There was a part of me that enjoyed straight hair as much as I enjoyed my wash-and-gos…and I felt a little guilty about it. If you read enough beauty and hair blogs, you begin to believe there is a right or wrong way to be natural. My right way to be natural is to be good to my hair, straight or curly. So as a natural girl walking the line of mane versatility, here are my key tips for relinquishing control of your curls to a stylist for a blow dry
Find a stylist you can trust:
Once upon a time, I thought it wise to book a blow-dry appointment online with a “reputable” blow dry salon. I asked twice in advance to be placed with a stylist who specializes in natural hair. Spoiler alert: I ended up with a crazy stylist who tried to detangle my hair with no product and a fine-tooth comb. Can we say nightmare? I cannot stress enough the importance of finding a professional who specializes in your hair type! Altering your hair’s state is a serious feat and if not done correctly, can cause heat damage and alter the curl pattern.
Know your hair:
Knowing if you’re a 4a or a 3c is less important than knowing just how much heat, pressure and product is enough for your hair type. If you’re a “blow-dry to dry” or “just one pass of the flat iron” type of gal, be sure to vocalize your preferences to your stylist. The less heat, the better so be sure to speak up if there is heat being applied directly to your hair shaft, if the brush is doing any tugging, or if you are uncomfortable with anything else during the process. You’re allowed to be vocal about what is happening to a part of your body.
Product, Product, Product:
The prime key to avoiding serious heat damage during a blow dry is protecting the hair with the proper product before, after, and during the process. Always start with conditioned and moisturized hair and be sure that your stylist applies a heat protector before and during the application of any heat. Sealing the hair with an anti-humidity spray can also help keep the look sleek and prevent unwanted revision.
Lay off the touch-ups:
As tempting as it may be to whip out the flat iron every time a couple of strands start to frizz up, step away from the heat tools! Most frizz moments can be saved with a pea-sized amount of serum and a tight wrap overnight or while you shower. If you must apply more heat, be sure to apply heat protector prior to doing so.
Just let your hair be:
With confidence, any hairstyle is rock-able. Blow-dried and rained on? Throw some braids in overnight and let that Diana Ross big hair do its thing the next morning. Frizz city from a workout? A braided crown can solve that in a matter of two cornrows. The key to living with versatile hair is letting your hair take the lead and being comfortable enough to know that as long as it is healthy, it is beautiful.
Rachel Hislop is a NYC born and bred material girl living in the digital world. Digital content strategist by day and writer by night. Former Style Editor for Russell Simmons’ GlobalGrind.com lover of dogs, shoes, and fellow sarcastic people.
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