10 Flat Ironing Tips

learn from these mistakesAutomatically, I assumed that because in the past my hair would always resist heat, I could never get heat damage. ERKKKKKK! WRONG!!! Boy oh boy was I wrong, wrong, wrong. I had a few flat-iron fails in my time and after all the frustration  I was determined to get my hair straight by the hook or the crook. So I committed a few flat ironing sins and now my hair is paying dearly the price. I didn’t protein reinforce my thin tresses, turned the heat up way too high, left the heat on my hair way too long and now one side of my hair is damaged. Although my hair looked beautiful after I was done, the consequences I now have to endure. I didn’t do all the things listed below, however, I would love to provide a few guidelines when applying direct heat to your hair. I speak from experience.

Protein Treat  & Deep Condition Before & After Heat Application
Moisture is extremely important for hair period. So before you flat-iron make sure the hair is properly conditioned and moisturized. Also, since the hair strands are made up of 91% protein, it would only make good sense to reinforce the structure of the strands with a protein based treatment before applying direct heat. It doesn’t have to be the same day or same week but sometime before you apply heat. I guess somewhere in the back of my head I knew this but was just too lazy. It would mean that I would actually have to go to the store to buy a protein treatment (I know the alternative).

After you’ve flat ironed your hair you may want to do another protein treatment depending on how long you maintain your straight hair. Some people maintain for a week, weeks at a time or months. Unfortunately I can only maintain for a few days. Remember protein treatment can last for up to six weeks if done correctly. Which brings me to my next point.

Plan Plan Plan
If you have even the slightest idea that sometime in the near future you would love to straighten your hair with a flat-iron or any other heat taming machine, do yourself a huge favor and plan way in advance for it. That way you will mentally and physically prepare for the process and you would be able to avoid some of the pitfalls I faced. Trust me your hair will thank you immensely for this.

Use A Heat Protectant
Usually this process of heat taming takes a long time for me because I have to wash, detangle, condition, blow dry and then flat-iron my hair. Once my hair is clean I extract water with either a T-shirt or towel then apply a heat protectant. For now I have Tresemme Thermal Creations. I spray generously on damp hair before blow drying. Once my hair is dry, I like to apply Proclaim Heat protectant. Reason being, it’s not heavy (great because I have fine hair), it keeps the hair soft and shiny, it has a great smell, and it really controls the frizz. Then I proceed to iron out my hair. A good heat protectant will do what its supposed to do, act as a barrier/shield between your machine and your hair.

Avoid Oil Before Ironing
Oil plus direct heat equals frying. Your hair will also smell burnt. It’s fine to apply oil afterwards to give a little shine and weight. But if you don’t want to walk around smelling like burnt hair don’t apply oil before you flat-iron and don’t leave the heat on too long.

Adjust the Temperature on the Flat Iron
First of all that Chi flat-iron don’t play. It was all the way turnt up HAWTTTTT!!! My advice to you is to use a flat-iron with adjustable heat temperature settings and always test run on several small areas of hair. For example, where your hair is thickest and thinnest start with a low temp and move your way up to see up to what degree of heat the hair can take without frying it. Hair burns at 451 degrees. For the record the Chi does have adjustable settings I just felt my hair needed a lot of heat.

A One Time Slow and Steady Motion
This point goes back to point 2 above. You have to plan. If you plan you’ll have adequate time to flat-iron your hair properly and not rush through the process. Now instead of doing multiple run overs, run the flat-iron through each section of hair once in a slow and steady motion. I’m not talking about turtle slow because you don’t want the heat sitting on your hair for anything over 10 seconds (my best estimate). On the other hand, hurrying through may mean missed sections which means going thru again which could equal hair damage. I know sometimes the Asian can come out in us once we’re armed with the hot tamer machine but please be mindful that our hair strands are fragile.

Work In Small Sections
Ole people say one one full basket. The same principle lies true here. The smaller the sections the better. Especially if your hair is thick or you have multiple textures that you’re working with. This means you can run though once and you’ll get a smoother finish. Working in big chunky sections means that it will take longer for the heat to penetrate all the strands which means you have to leave the heat on longer which makes your hair more prone to heat damage.

If Its Smoking Its Burning
Usually where there’s smoke there’s fire. Don’t ignore the warning signs. If your hair is smoking its burning. If its burning it will fall off. If it falls off you’ll be mad at yourself. Remember slow steady motions. Don’t let the iron sit on any one section of your hair for more than 5-10 seconds. A word to the wise is sufficient.

Flat Iron Dry Hair
For best and long-lasting results hair should only be flat ironed once dried. This does not mean that the hair has to be blow dried. It could be air-dried and stretched via banding methods, twist outs or braid outs, bunning or your favorite method.

Flat ironing wet hair is a definite NO NO and a recipe for disaster. Flat ironing damp hair will only result in frizz and possibly burnt hair. Flat ironing dry hair will give you optimum results. Not potato chips dry but dried and moisturized.

Wrap Your Hair At Night
After all that hard work, and trust me its a lot of work, don’t ruin your pretty hair by neglecting it at night. Wrap you hair and tie it with a silk or satin scarf. Doing this will allow your hair to have a curve when you let it down in the morning hence there will be no need to reapply heat.

So there you have it. Although heat damage is subjective, if you incorporate some or all of the preceding tips your hair should come out looking fine and revert to its natural state once you wash it. Always do what is best for you. Heat damage is serious and sometimes the only way to restore the damage hair is to cut off the damaged part. Remember an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

Happy Heat Taming!!!

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My Go To Hairstyle and Makeup Look for the Week

This has been my go to look for the week. Literally. I’ve been feeling under the weather since Sunday (the flu trying to keep me down). As a result, I’ve worn my hair in a high bun (one of my favorite hairstyles) and l’ve done bare minimum with my makeup look. Sometimes less is definitely more. I love my eye shadows but I also loved the natural look this week. What do you think?

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Face: Coastal Scents Camouflage Consealer, Fashion Fair ‘Pecan’ Oil Control Powder.
Eyebrows: Coastal Scents Brown Eyeshadow, Avon Mineral Eyeliner in Black (LOVE)
Lips: NYX ‘Hot Cocoa’ Lip Liner, NYX Natural Lip Gloss

Feature Friday: Meet Naturalista Jacqueline!

IGC: What is your name and how long have you been natural?
JAJ: My name is Jacqueline Azille- Joseph and I have been natural for a total of twenty (20) months.

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IGC: Who or what inspired you to return au natural and step inside the shoes of a curly woman?
JAJ:
I have always been in awe of my mother who would have long thick tresses. Then I started noticing that a number of women were turning their backs on the “creamy crack” and were either maintaining a low cut or producing some gorgeous hairstyles.  Although I had long thick hair, ninety percent of the times I was not happy with my hair and the fact that only my hairdresser at Splinters (John Clarke, Marva and Betty) could make it look “drop dead gorgeous.”

In January of  2008 without any warning, one of my great friends Shayna George appeared on facebook with a big chop.  Her luscious  mane was all gone, at the time it was like watching a horror movie. Then in 2009, my fashionista sister, Latoya Azille decided to do the same, I was so stunned.  Another ray of  inspiration in my “Au naturel” quest was Caron Jacobs who in some way or another made natural hair look oh so fun.

In April of 2010, it was time for me to relax my hair again.  While combing my hair in the mirror I asked, “Lord, what am I going to do with my hair?”  Instantly I got a loud enough answer “Stop perming it!”  I laughed and laughed and then made the appointment to have it relaxed.  A few months passed and on the 16th July, 2010, the day after my seventh wedding anniversary, I Big Chopped.

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IGC: You chose to do a big chop, would you advise future naturals to go that route or to do a long term transition?
JAJ: My choice to do a big chop was all dependent upon the fact that when I was in third form in secondary school, I decided to do a transition.  It was not difficult since my coils are not so tight.  I am not a fan of weaves or braids so my transition entailed my hair being in a pony tail for a period of two years.  This time around, I thought of doing the same but after about a week I had decided to take it all off.

For persons planning on going natural, I would encourage them to think about what would be best for them.  Some prefer to do protective styles such as a weave or braiding while others try to avoid the hassle of having to deal with split ends and treatment to avoid unnecessary hair loss.  I say, if you’re bold enough, go for the big chop but ensure that it is handled by a hairstylist and not a barber (the barber’s machines tend to give a rough cut).

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IGC: Tell me about your decision.
JAJ: Once I decided to go natural, I started dropping hints for my husband.  Whenever I would ask my hairdresser to cut my hair, he would ask me if I consulted with my husband.  Since I didn’t want to shock my hubby, I continued dropping hints.  Soon it became a full-fledged discussion and somehow I managed to persuade him that it was the best thing for me to do.  We had just gone on vacation and I figured what better time to do such a thing than when I was on vacation.  It would allow me the time to get accustomed to the new look as well as give me time to learn to style it all over again.  It was a Friday morning, when we dropped off the children and headed to the barbershop.  As we walked in, the barber inquired as to what services my husband needed.  He was shocked when he learnt that I had come to remove my mane.  Jokingly he exclaimed, “If it were my girlfriend, she would have to leave until all the hair grows back”.  He was so hilarious but in the end, I was pleased with the new look.

IGC: Most naturals have a love hate relationship with their hair.  What’s the relationship between you and your coils?
JAJ: Surprisingly, I don’t have a love hate relationship, I just love my natural hair to pieces.

IGC: What is your proudest natural moment?
JAJ: At first, I would say my proudest moment was when I first cut it off but this event comes in at a close second.  My proudest moment was when I walked into a business place filled with women, all with relaxed hair and all attention was on me, as one employee asked if the twist outs were my natural hair and then continued to ask me more questions – I read the smiles on the faces of some of the other women as if they were saying “wow, I wish I had the courage to do that!”

Ok, I know you asked for the proudest moment but I love the reaction I get when I show them a picture fresh out of the hairdresser.  They are usually in disbelief at first but usually end off by saying your natural hair look really good.

IGC: What products do you use?
JAJ: At first, I was getting sucked into purchasing the olive oil and the coconut oil and was looking into getting the shea butter when I recalled, as a child, my hair grew to full length on simple hair grease.  It will clog pores they say, and cause other problems, they say but I have resorted to simple hair grease.

When I had just done the big chop, I did a lot of co-washing (washing hair with conditioner alone) and out of the shower I would just add some eco-styler Gel.  I do recommend Kinky Curly, but for persons who travel a lot or have connections in the USA.  The kinky curly assists in producing some luscious curls – great product.

In summary, I currently use, regular shampoo and conditioner, grease, little olive oil or coconut oil (tends to soften hair).

IGC: Can you elaborate a little bit about your hair routine?
JAJ: Initially I did a lot of cowash and go but as it grew in the washing has been reduced to once, sometimes twice a week.  If I am planning a twist-out, I ensure that my hair is plait at least the night before.  On other days I comb it out and put it in a puff, or two.  Once in a blue moon, I have it plait in a style for about a two week period.  It is recommended that we sleep on satin pillow cases or wear head wraps, these I hate so I do neither.  Don’t follow me though, take care of your hair.  A trim and treatment is also encouraged, I am yet to see the need. LOL

IGC: What has been the hardest part of your hair journey thus far?
JAJ: The hardest part of my journey thus far is the plaiting of my hair for three to three and a half hours, I hate that to my core which will explain why I plait it so rarely.  It is also difficult when I have to plait it myself.

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IGC: Have you ever regretted your decision to return natural? If so, why?
JAJ: No I have not regretted any part of my journey – 20 months and still going strong!

IGC: What are your favorite hairstyles?
JAJ: I really enjoyed about two weeks into the boy cut when I could sport my waves – they were gorgeous.  Currently, my favourite style is the twist-outs.  They look fabulous when I wash, add Eco –Styler and twist them.

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IGC: What advice do you have for other women who would like to embark upon a natural journey?
JAJ:
My advise would be – “Just Do It.”  After some research that is.  Once you’ve made up your mind that this is the avenue you’re planning to take do some research on the internet, youtube is especially helpful.  Ask other women who are rocking the natural do for some pointers and just go all out.  God made us beautiful and I would encourage anybody to go ahead and embrace your natural beauty.  It may not be all fun and games but when you think of it, nothing in life is – Jump in with both feet and enjoy the ride.

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Jacque, thanks a million for the chit chat. Your hair is fabulous many times over.

Leave a comment for Jacque and don’t forget to like, rate, subscribe and share! Thanks ya’ll!