Monday, October 20, 2008

A Curly Girl's Guide to Straightening

I've written this post in my head the last few times I've been sitting in front of my mirror straightening my hair (which has been consistently lately thanks to an un-curl friendly cut... what was I thinking wanting a short bob??), and I figured it was time to finally type it out.

I've had many years of experience with fighting my natural curl. See Exhibit A:

6th grade 4H Queen.  I know, you're jealous.  You're also jealous of my hair, my tan, and my black tights.  This was obviously long before I knew what to do with my hair, much less how to straighten it in a way that was actually appropriate for leaving the house.

I have finally learned to love my curls, but sometimes you just want to mix things up a bit, and I'd like to think that I've mastered the art of making my hair look naturally straight when it is straight (except in high humidity... in which case it's a losing battle).  Here are some tips regarding some common mistakes that I see curly girls make when straightening their hair.

1.  Blowdry your hair in at least 3 layers.
For both blowdrying and straightening, I use 3 layers.  For the first layer, I use my fingers to make a part straight back from the tops of my ears and dry everything below that.  For the second layer, I make a part from my temples back.  The third layer is the top part.

Drying your hair all in one layer makes it really hard to get the bottom back of your hair completely dry, so it winds up being really fuzzy.  It also scorches the top layer of your hair, making it dry and unmanageable.

2.  Use a round or paddle brush.
I see so many curly girls who think they can just use their fingers to comb through as they are drying.  This is just asking for unnecessary frizz.   pulling your hair straight with a brush while you dry helps make your hair smoother, easier to straighten, and gives it great body.

3. Absolutely use a round brush to dry the hair around your face.
It give it the most natural look.  A lot of times, if I have inadvertently made a crease in my hairline with the straightener, I'll even go back, dab a little water around my hairline, and re-dry with a round brush.  Your hairline will give away more than anything else that you straightened your hair, and it drives me crazy when I see otherwise well-straightened styles with giveaway hairlines.

4.  Use a straightener.  A good one.
There are several good brands out there, any salon-quality brand would do.  I personally use a Chi and love it.  They are kind of expensive, but so worth it.  I originally tried to be frugal and bought a cheap one at Wal-Mart, but it just really does not compare.

5.  Straighten in layers too.
Like blowdrying, if you try to straighten you hair all in one layer, you're inevitably going to miss a lot of the underneath and wind up with a frizzy underside.

6.  Check your hairline again.
Does it look natural?  Use your round brush until it does.  Don't be afraid to re-wet and re-dry.

I hope that someone finds this helpful.  I'd love it if any other Curly Girls want to chime in on how you achieve a great straight style.


  1. My suggestion as a mostly curly girl would be to try the Conair Infinity Styler Dryer. Walmart carries it and 3 other brands that are the same type of dryer. They have a brush attachment so no round/flat/other brush is needed and your arms don't get so tired, either. To me it's much easier to control and when your done you don't need to use the straightner as much.'s cheapo!

    I also dry and straighten in layers. Another thing I do is use a bit of gel on those pesky around the face areas just to help on the straightening.

    It does take time to get that straight look but for me it's well worth it.

    Also, I only do this routine every other day and throw in a few curly days every other week. The less you use heat the less breakage you'll get.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Good call, I couldn't imagine straightening my hair every single day... that would be so bad for it.