Natural Hair Silkening Technique

Straight hair doesn't have to be chemical-packed hair.

Photo: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

Natural hair is beautiful hair, but if you’re tired of waking up every morning with a fluffball on your head, it’s time to get your silk on. Silkening or straightening your hair pulls the kinkiness out of your stresses, leaving them sleek, smooth and silky soft. You can go the chemical route for long-term results or go au naturel and silken your hair without harsh, burning chemicals.

Pick the Right Iron

One flat iron may look like the next, but not all tools are created equal. Flat irons are typically made with metal or ceramic plates, with ceramic offering the straightest locks with the least damage. Look for a straightener with a variety of heat settings, since thick, natural hair often requires a little more heat than other hair types. Test the heat before ironing your hair by turning the heat to high and pressing a piece of white tissue paper between the plates; if it turns brown or starts to burn, it’s too hot for your hair. Turn it down to medium before ironing your delicate tresses.

Prepare Your Hair

Cleanliness is vital to keeping natural hair from looking grimy and gross, so wash your tresses before straightening. Wet your wavy locks with warm water and drizzle on enough moisturizing shampoo to build a thick lather and scrub vigorously with your fingers. Rinse out the soap and pile on a deep conditioner. Let your thirsty hair soak up the moisture for five minutes before rinsing. If you iron your hair before washing, you’ll look super greasy instead of glamorous.

Protection

Natural hair is notorious for being dry and fragile, and heat styling zaps away any moisture clinging to your delicate strands. This doesn’t mean your hair is doomed to a life of curly kinkiness, but it does mean you’ve got to protect follicles before silkening. Squeeze most of the water from your tresses with a towel, but leave it a little damp since the steam released during ironing helps straighten the hair. Squirt a bit of heat protecting serum in your hands and rub it all through your hair. Work slowly to coat every kinky curl, smoothing the strands flat between your hands for even coverage.

Iron On

Plug in your flat iron and crank the heat up to medium-high. Natural hair is stubborn hair and straightening on high heat means flatter follicles. Part your entire head of hair horizontally, and twist the top half up and secure with big hair clips. Grab a 1/2-inch wide chunk of hair from the lower section and press is between the iron plates. Start approximately an inch from your scalp, pulling the iron slowly down the hair all the way to the tip for pin-straight strands. Iron the entire bottom half in small sections before unclipping and straightening the top half, adding more serum if your strands dry out. Style straightened hair with a flat paddle brush to show off your sleek, silky strands.

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