Do you remember the good old days, sitting on the couch, TV blasting, but how suddenly the whole world would go quiet. “Could you do her hair?” my dad would say, and then time froze… I’d pack that night, I’d slip out in the wee hours of the morning, suitcase in hand ready to cross the border, I was already thinking of diversions, excuses like “no, mommy just did my hair”. If I could equate it to anything else in my life, it’s like that moment in GTA when you accidentally bump into stranger on the street, and then five seconds later your finger is about to break off from mashing the x button as you run away from some burly man with a pocket-knife. Except for me that man was my father, phone in hand ready to make an appointment to get my hair done.
All exaggerations aside, for a good portion of my childhood, that was my view of hair salons. When I’d go in, my palms would get clammy. I knew that for the next few hours it’d be me and the stylist, or rather me and eight knuckles buried into my head and then at least a week of a botox-esque form of paralysis in my forehead. Unless of course, I got my hair straightened, in which case, it was a different matter.
Yes, the flat iron is the source of my uneasiness around all hot styling tools. Like most naturals, I’ve become convinced that I could avoid the flat-iron. Until the other day… As I sat with my mom in the living room, I’d realized (or rather she pointed out disapprovingly) that I’d literally left a trail of mini puffs on the ground, and so that meant it was time for another trim and thus a flat-ironing. But in recollection of many hair fails, from the time that I burned my forehead with a flat iron trying to fix my bangs to the time a pregnant hair stylist’s iron nearly (who am I kidding) actually brought me to tears on my birthday. I figured I’d educate myself on how to make this visit a bit more enjoyable… and so I did some research.
First, I learned that I have to be my own hair’s expert, no one is going to know your hair like you, so when you go to a salon, make sure you prep your hair before you get it done. For naturals, it’s usually a good idea to deep condition before straightening hair because application of heat to hair, that is naturally dry, can rob hair of needed moisture. So by making sure that your hair is moist you can avoid a lot, if not all, of the damage that comes with straightening hair.
You know when you get that new hair product, and how suddenly you’re flipping your head around like you’re posing for seventeen magazine (just me?). Well, although you may think that higher temperatures may allow your hair to move more fluidly, a higher temperature can just cause more damage to hair, upset your curl pattern, and make your hair smell burnt. So the second thing I learned, or confirmed, is that more heat doesn’t mean straighter or healthier hair, and that it can be okay to ask your stylist to turn down the heat.
“Heat protectant does not come in a bottle, heat protectant is your ability to able to moisturize your hair in a manner that is suitable to the texture” as hair guru Dickey said himself. What I learned is that it’s not about the product, but it’s about how you use it…your hair will only be as good as you treat it. If you know how to take care of your hair, straightening can become less scary. So hopefully my newfound confidence is indicative of how well I’ve been taking care of my hair and an omen that this appointment will go smoothly. I’m predicting no pregnant women… (crosses fingers)
What do you do to prep for the iron? Hot comb? Share below!