Natural Ways to Straighten and Moisturize Ethnic Hair

Getting ethnic hair on the straight-and-narrow can be a challenge.

Photo: Jack Hollingsworth/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Women like versatility. It's why you own shoes for every outfit, buy the latest styles and what drives you to change your hairstyle on a regular basis. Sometimes, you want curly. Other times, up-swept 'dos are in order. Then there are times when you want sleek, straight and shiny. If you have ethnic hair, getting it straight can be a challenge. It costs major bucks to have the pros do it, the process often damages your hair and unless you opt for something long-term, like a relaxer, the results don't last long anyway. It's enough to make you embrace your wave, but don't discount natural ways to straighten your hair before you throw in the towel on straight hair.

Moisturizing

Well-moisturized hair is one critical component to successfully straightening your hair naturally at home. Oil is one of the best ways to moisturize ethnic hair. You can use a variety of oils including olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil or jojoba oil. Warm the oil before applying to your hair. Massage it through your tresses and cover with either a hot, dry towel -- fresh from the dryer is perfect -- or a plastic shower cap. Hit your hair with an extra dose of heat from the hair dryer, applied over the towel or cap, to really unlock the oil's moisturizing properties. Leave the heated oil in your hair for 15 to 30 minutes before washing it away. Use this treatment as often as needed to keep your tresses smooth and moist.

Get Tropical

Coconut milk and lime juice are great primers to put on your strands before using a flat iron, suggests BlackHairInformation.com. The mixture moisturizes and protects the delicate hair shafts from the impending heat. Best of all, the mix can also make your hair more prepared for straightening and leave it straighter longer. You can use this mixture as often as needed, and your hair will get healthier with every application.

Making the Mix

You will need one can of coconut milk, usually around 14 ounces, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 4 tablespoons lime juice. Start by heating the milk in a saucepan over low heat while whisking in the oil until combined. Whisk the cornstarch and lime juice in a separate bowl until you have a thick mixture free of lumps. Dump it in the pan and whisk the mixture, keeping it on the heat until the mixture is smooth, thick and roughly the consistency of a commercial conditioner. If your coconut milk is thick upon opening, you might not need the cornstarch. This makes enough for one to two applications, depending on your hair length. Freeze any leftovers to preserve the mixture. Just defrost before using!

Straightening

Apply the coconut-lime mixture to your hair, cover with plastic and apply heat with a bonnet or hand-held dryer for 30 minutes before rinsing. Dry your hair and straighten as usual with a flat iron. Make your hair even smoother by using a glycerin-based curling product and set your hair on rollers, sitting under a dryer for 90 minutes, before using the flat iron. Marvel at how straight your locks look. Be prepared to share your beauty secret with others who ask -- or smile and claim it's all you, baby. Your hair is just naturally straight. Wink, wink.

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