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Can I Straighten My Natural Hair Without Heat?

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Question: Can I Straighten My Natural Hair Without Heat?

So you've been natural for a while and you love the versatility your texture offers. With a great selection of hair accessories out there, you can switch up your look on a daily basis. At some point, however, you may want a different hairstyle, if only for a day or a week. You want to straighten it, maybe to see your hair's true length (as shrinkage can really hide it) or just to show a different side.

Do you need a blow dryer and lots of heat via a flat or curling iron to straighten your hair? What if you want to avoid all that heat and the potential damage it can cause?

Answer:

Yes, you can straighten your natural hair without heat, but be advised that final results will differ depending on the texture you begin with, the products you use and your technique. Plus, you have to keep in mind what time of year it is and your climate when considering how long your straightened style will last.

One of the best methods for straightening natural hair without using heat is by roller setting. Sound old-fashioned? Well, there's a reason many of us see pictures of our mothers and grandmothers with headfuls of long, thick hair. Back in the day, before relaxers hit store shelves in a big way, chemicals weren't as prevalent. Yes, a lot of heat was used, but hot-combing was often reserved for special occasions or done about two to three times per month. For maintenance, women rolled their hair at night. Less heat meant more hair retention.

Roller setting with magnetic rollers and a setting agent can yield good results, but you may have to practice to get the best outcome. You'll need:

  • Magnetic rollers
  • Clips or pins to hold rollers in place
  • Spray bottle filled with water
  • Setting product such as Paul Mitchell Sculpting Foam, KeraCare Foam Wrap-Set Lotion, Mizani Foam Wrap Lotion or Mizani Setting Lotion
  • Silk or satin scarf

Set your hair after a shampoo and conditioning session, working with wet hair. Spray your hair with water if it begins to dry as you set it. Apply the setting product of your choice to each section of hair before rolling. Remember to keep even tension as you roll as this ensures straighter results.

Air drying is the gentlest drying method, but it can take a long time for your hair to completely dry this way. A hood bonnet set on low heat can speed things up, so while that may not be a 100% heat-free method, it's still indirect heat versus the direct heat of an iron.

Once the hair is dry, remove the rollers. You can wear the style as is or dry wrap for additional straightening. Once the hair is wrapped around the head, tie a scarf around it; this will smooth the hair down further, so once it's released, you'll have a bouncy bob instead of a curlier style.

Tips and Advice:

  • Your results won't last nearly as long in high humidity, so you may have to save roller setting for fall and winter, when there's less moisture in the air.
  • The bigger the roller, the straighter the hair.
  • Extremely coily hair may not straighten to your satisfaction with this method. It may require low heat with a blow dryer for better results, so carefully consider your natural texture when thinking about roller setting, as it may not work as well for very tight curls.
  • Do not remove rollers until the hair is completely dry. Taking them out too early will result in hair that curls back up.
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