Is It Safe to Flat-Iron African-American Hair When Wet?

Get straight hair by flat-ironing your hair.

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Sometimes getting your hair straight can seem like a battle for the ages, especially if you've got coarse or super curly hair and limited time in the morning. Of course, you may have even considered flat-ironing your hair while wet to get straight hair and save time. While flat ironing your hair using your regular flat iron while wet may seem like a good idea, don't go there; it will badly damage your hair. However, you can try out a wet-to-dry flat iron, which is made for straightening damp hair. Coarse-haired gals should note, though, that depending on how coarse your hair is, you may not get those salon results you're going for.

Shampooing and Conditioning Your Hair

Before your start flat-ironing your locks, you'll want to start with clean, moisturized hair. To get the job done right, wash your hair with a sulfate- and alcohol-free shampoo. Sulfates and alcohols dry your hair, and African-American hair needs more moisture than other hair types. After you wash your hair, apply a creamy conditioner to your locks and follow up with a leave-in conditioner. Your hair will be primed and ready for that great press.

Drying Techniques

Because it just isn't a good idea to flat-iron your hair while wet, either air-dry your tresses overnight in braids or blow-dry them while they're damp -- not soaking wet. This means blotting wet hair dry with a towel and waiting about 15 minutes for it to partially dry on its own. Detangle your hair using a wide-tooth comb in about four sections from tips to roots, braiding each section after you've detangled it. When you're ready to blow-dry, do only one section at a time on the lowest heat setting possible from root to tip.

Pressing Your Hair

Before your flat-iron your hair, you may want to try the optional step of pressing your hair with a hot comb to loosen the curl at your roots for a straighter press. To do this properly, run the comb through the roots and edges of your hair, but make sure that the temperature is not too hot. Test the temperature by placing the hot comb on a paper towel. If it burns the towel, then it is too hot for your hair and needs to cool for a minute or two.

Nix the Oils

Oil-based products often used on African-American hair to enhance shine can fry under the heat of a flat iron, so leave those on the shelf when you're going straight. A tourmaline or titanium flat iron will give your hair a bit of shine on its own, so no oily products are needed.

Flat-Ironing Your Hair

No matter what type of flat iron you're using -- a wet-to-dry or standard model -- opt for one with wide plate (at least 1 1/2 inches) and work with your hair in very small sections. Move very slowly down each each section from roots to tips as you flat-iron your hair for the best results. When you're done, your hair should shine and move like never before!

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