vidal ceramic vs ghd
(LEFT) Late 2010. While flat iron­ing with an inex­pen­sive Vidal Sas­soon Ceram­ic iron. Start­ing to revert as well. (RIGHT) In 2012. While flat iron­ing with the expen­sive GHD Gold Pro­fes­sion­al iron, chas­ing with the Wigo brush, using small­er sec­tions, etc.

One of the beau­ties of being nat­ur­al is ver­sa­til­i­ty – the abil­i­ty to switch from your nat­ur­al kinks, coils, or curls to big­ger curls or straight tress­es and back. This ver­sa­til­i­ty is some­thing that I have exploit­ed in the lat­ter part of my nat­ur­al hair jour­ney if you could not already tell by some of my posts on here, such as:

Does 4C Nat­ur­al Hair Mean Lim­it­ed Styling?
7 Steps to Min­i­mize Dam­age When Using Heat on Nat­ur­al Hair

Believe it or not, there was a peri­od of time that I just did not think it pos­si­ble to go beyond the “blow-out look” on my 4C nat­ur­al hair to sleek and straight. It just didn’t hap­pen for me when I tried using a cou­ple of the more pop­u­lar flat irons out there. More­over, after spend­ing an hour or so on straight­en­ing, my hair would revert with­in min­utes. For a peri­od of time, I saw no point in flat iron­ing my hair if the results did not look like I had used the tool at all and only last­ed sec­onds.  What was the point?  I might as well have just stretched my hair using con­ven­tion­al meth­ods.

How­ev­er, that all changed about two years ago when one of my sis­ters (who is also nat­ur­al) con­vinced me to let her flat iron my hair. (In the back of my mind, I thought that I would prove to her that my hair just couldn’t get that straight, but I was wrong.)  After forty-five min­utes or so, my hair was “bone straight” and with less than 370 degrees Fahren­heit (F)! (My nat­ur­al kinks bounced right back after wash­ing a cou­ple weeks lat­er.) From that day for­ward, I became a firm believ­er in this lev­el of ver­sa­til­i­ty – the abil­i­ty to go from shrunk­en kinks to super straight strands and back again. If you have been hav­ing chal­lenges in suc­cess­ful­ly expe­ri­enc­ing this kind of ver­sa­til­i­ty, here is a com­pi­la­tion of what I’ve learned from my sis­ter as well as my own expe­ri­ences over these two years.

1. The GREATEST impor­tance is the type of flat iron and qual­i­ty of the plates

It was not until that flat iron­ing ses­sion two years ago that I learned the MAJOR impor­tance of the tool qual­i­ty itself. My results with $40–50 tools ver­sus those of dou­ble or quadru­ple the price were like night and day. I have to say that GHD’s Gold Pro­fes­sion­al and MK-I Halo’s Ceram­ic (being a close sec­ond) are the flat-iron­ing tools that get my hair salon straight and sleek for weeks. None of the oth­er tools that I have tried do this even when using “tried and true” tech­niques, such as the comb chase method. Of course that means pay­ing more for more qual­i­ty, but qual­i­ty means smoother, bet­ter plates and tech­nol­o­gy that trans­late into smoother, straighter results with less heat. (In 2012, I pur­chased the GHD flat iron for $200+. The MK-I Halo sells for $100+.)

With both of these irons, I stay in the 300s (Fahren­heit) for heat while my oth­er irons would require more heat (in the 400s) to get close to the same results, if at all pos­si­ble. The MK-I Halo has an adjustable dig­i­tal tem­per­a­ture set­ting, which ranges from 140 to 450 F. This is ide­al for those who want to mon­i­tor the tem­per­a­ture they are apply­ing to their strands. (I only need 360 to 380 F.) The GHD does not have an adjustable tem­per­a­ture set­ting, but accord­ing to the com­pa­ny web­site, the gold pro­fes­sion­al iron ranges from 347 to 365 F.

conair vs ghd
In 2012. (LEFT) After using my drug­store Conair flat iron. (Sim­i­lar results were got­ten with the GVP as well.)  My hair had lit­tle sheen and was real­ly stiff. It tan­gled and shrunk up fair­ly quick­ly after this. (RIGHT) After using the GHD gold pro­fes­sion­al. My hair has a nice shine and a lot of move­ment. It is also sleek­er and last­ed weeks.

2. Then cleans­ing and a mois­ture-infus­ing deep con­di­tion­ing ses­sion

The few (very few) times I have flat ironed on dirty hair, my straight­en­ing results nev­er looked as sleek as doing so on clean hair. This real­i­ty makes sense giv­en that washed hair is free of the dirt and prod­uct buildup that may inhib­it the styling process.  Thus, I make sure to thor­ough­ly wash my strands (from root to tip) to allow for a suc­cess­ful flat iron ses­sion.

In addi­tion to fresh­ly washed hair, I find that mois­ture-infus­ing deep con­di­tion­ing ses­sions give me the smoothest flat-iron­ing results. My con­di­tion­ers of choice are a pro­tein-based one (ORS Replen­ish­ing Con­di­tion­er or Aphogee Inten­sive 2-Minute Ker­atin Recon­struc­tor) on top of a mois­tur­iz­ing, slip­pery con­di­tion­er (Tre­semme Nat­u­rals or Suave Nat­u­rals). My hair feels like but­ter after rins­ing.

3. The straight­en­ing tech­nique – size of sec­tions, pass­es, and ten­sion

I think by now, many of us are aware that the size of the sec­tions of hair you flat iron and the num­ber of pass­es are both key to a suc­cess­ful straight­en­ing tech­nique. For a sleek straight look, I find the most suc­cess with sec­tions that are about 2” x 0.5” and using two pass­es. Big­ger sec­tions make a suc­cess­ful flat iron job dif­fi­cult, and three or more pass­es are unnec­es­sary with the right straight­en­ing tool.

Anoth­er impor­tant com­po­nent is apply­ing ten­sion while flat iron­ing, which can improve your results great­ly. Some nat­u­rals use a comb-chase method, but I get bet­ter (and faster) results using the Wigo brush. I essen­tial­ly take a small sec­tion of hair, clamp it between the brush, and chase with the flat iron. It is hon­est­ly gen­tler than it sounds when used on thor­ough­ly detan­gled stretched hair.

4. How you stretch your hair, includ­ing the product(s) used

The more stretched my hair is pri­or to flat iron­ing, the sleek­er the results. I pre­fer big braids or roller sets when it comes to this; roller sets obvi­ous­ly give me the bet­ter results. (Blow dry­ing is obvi­ous­ly anoth­er option, but I rarely do it since it dries my hair out like crazy.)

As for prod­ucts, a good post-wash­ing sealant (for me, that is a home­made shea but­ter mix­ture) and a sil­i­cone-based serum are key. Addi­tion­al­ly, the less prod­uct I use, the sleek­er my results.  I find that using too much prod­uct leads to stiffer hair.

What chal­lenges have you faced when flat iron­ing your hair?  Do you have any tips to share?

Chinwe

Empow­er­ing women of col­or to break bar­ri­ers. Cherish.Thy.Melanin. https://cherishthymelanin.com/
https://www.facebook.com/cherishthymelanin/

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29 Comments on "How I Flat Iron My Thick, 4C Natural Hair SLEEK and Straight Without DAMAGE"

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lauryn

my bira­cial hair type 3b can get to sleek straight but as soon as i go out on windy day it frizzes up and I can’t get it to go back to being straight with­out re-straight­en­ing it

Courtney Jackson
Cap­tain Plan­et. This was the issue for me too for a long time. I have to admit, I don’t have the best flat iron. But with the right mix­ture of prod­ucts, I final­ly got it right. First I washed with apple cider vine­gar and water ( 4 parts water to 2 parts acv). Then I deep con­di­tioned with Shea Moisture’s Manku­na Hon­ey and Mafu­ra oil inten­sive hair masque. After sit­ting under the dry­er for 30 min­utes, rinse and part in plaits to air dry. Then, I used L’Oréal Blow Dry It ther­mal smoother cream and blow dry using the ten­sion… Read more »
Amity W.

Hi Court­ney,
I’m curi­ous about one step. Right After you deep con­di­tioned it, did you rinse out the deep con­di­tion­ing mask or did you leave it in before you blow dried it?

E.C. from D.C.

Ohhh :). I’m 4C all the way…heck 4D is they cre­at­ed a new hair type lol.
I’m gonna give this a go.

Scmami
Took her word for it last fall and pur­chased the MK-Halo flat iron for ~$80 on Ama­zon. WOW! My hair was salon straight and my daughter’s true 4C THICK MBL/BSL hair didn’t revert! My hair is 3C/4A, shoul­der length, and I used the flat iron on 360 for us both. I washed, con­di­tioned and most­ly air dried, then blow dried mine and it still came out silky. On her hair I washed, con­di­tioned, mois­tur­ized with a shea but­ter mix and braid­ed. She wore the braids a few days before I had time to flat iron. The heat pro­tec­tant used was… Read more »
Robyn

Bril­liant sum­ma­ry!!! I would imag­ine the con­di­tion­ing ses­sion be 30–45 min­utes long. Also, depend­ing of course on the behav­iour of your hair and time avail­able, I believe that the entire process can be done in the morn­ing of one day, i.e. like a Sat­ur­day or Sun­day, air dry­ing whilst in rollers sit­ting in the sun can quick­ly get that job done.

Jade

every time i flat iron my hair, 8–10 hours lat­er, the roots and mid­way through my hair has revert­ed back to curl. it almost looks like i got a cheap straight weave in with afro puff or frizzed out hair. why cant i get my hair to stay straight for like 1 day?!?!?!? it does­nt make sense to dai­ly flat iron my hair.

d4dusk.tumblr

let me make sure I got this

day 1.
1. wash
2. slip­pery con­di­tion­er ie tres­sume nat­u­rals
3. leave in con­di­tion­er with sil­i­cone on top of that ie ORS.
4. imme­di­ate­ly wash both out or let them both sit for a while, if a while, how long?
5. rinse, plop hair til damp, add Shea but­ter sealant.
6. braid or roller set til air dry.

day 2.
7. Car­ols or Silk serum light­ly on small sec­tions before straight­en­ing.

thanks!

ShaLeigh

Can you give instruc­tions for mak­ing the shea but­ter mix­ture?

jen

I get my hair straight by going to get it blow dry­er then if I want to be nat­ur­al i just wash it put mois­tur­iz­er and braid it in sec­tions then I’m back where j start­ed. I only use my flat iron when touch­ing up places if I sweat or some­thing. Mine goes to 450 degree

Nicky

This arti­cle was GREAT! Thanks for the tips!

andrea dames

This might be off of the top­ic but before flat iron­ing became pop­u­lar, you nev­er real­ly heard of heat dam­age. I use to get my hair pressed and nev­er suf­fered heat dam­age, now my hair is heat dam­aged due to using a flat iron. I use heat pro­tec­tion on my hair but it does not help.

Kay

I have been using ghds for years I now wear my hair nat­ur­al most days but when I do straight­en it, i like the results. But with­in half an hour my ends are dry, sta­t­ic and extreme­ly frizzy and I don’t know why. Because my hair is in very good con­di­tion. Have you got any tips on pre­vent­ing this ? I have tried serums, straight­en­ing balms every­thing!

Miranda

Won­der­ful post on straight­en­ing nat­ur­al 4c hair. It’s not easy to come across detailed tri­al and error arti­cles like thid regard­ing flat iron types, prod­ucts, lessons learned, etc. Even your respons­es to oth­ers are help­ful and pro­vide addi­tion­al insight. Thanks Chin­we!

ceres

thank you so much for writ­ing this!! I’ve been flat iron­ing my hair 2–3 time a year and it’s always a dis­ap­point­ment. I’m a lit­tle bit con­fused about what do you put and when do you put it though. You don’t use the LOC/LCO method after wash­ing your hair? Right after the conditioning/protein treat­ment, you just wash the con­di­tion­er out, put some shea butter,roller sets it and than flat iron it? When do you put a heat pro­tec­tant?

lis

The brush is a must. For a long time I pon­dered how to thor­ough­ly flat iron. I got great results using a brush with the Sedu iron.

Yaya

Do you mean you flat ironed with a soft bris­tle brush on your nat­ur­al hair?
Does it work,I have real­ly dense course hair. I am con­tem­plat­ing flat iron­ing myself.

Tash

Thanks for this. Could you post the link/exact mod­el name for the ghd gold straight­en­ers please as a few dif­fer­ent options come up on Ama­zon. Thanks

Kinky me

Do you flat iron your with­out any prod­uct? Then put serum on after you’ve flat ironed

Jacky

Nice tips, thanks for shar­ing and thanks for the pic­ture com­par­isons. I have no doubt that the GHD Gold flat iron is good and very effec­tive.

Yo Yo
Nat­ty nat­u­rals prod­ucts — deep con­di­tion­er, leave-in, but­ter (very light) (nattynaturals.com). Roller set ( I cheat doing by doing pony­tail roller set, I found vids on YouTube) instead of blow dry and a lit­tle more nat­ty but­ter! Also I bought a flat iron on Groupon, instead of pay­ing $200, I paid $30. I found that the 100% sol­id ceram­ic plates (tour­ma­line ceram­ic even bet­ter) to be bet­ter than the tita­ni­um flat iron I used a few times. I don’t think brand mat­ters as much as the mate­r­i­al the plates are made out of and the abil­i­ty to adjust the temp.… Read more »
Yes, Really

GHD (stands for “Good Hair Day”) tru­ly are amaz­ing. Very true that they dont have an adjustable ther­mo­stat but I use mine (old­er ones) and tru­ly can get away with just one pass on each sec­tion.

A Simple Thing

Do you mix your con­di­tion­ers togeth­er or lay­er them on top of each oth­er? Do you find the qual­i­ty of the serum affects the straight­en­ers (flat iron) or will good old Fan­ta­sia work (flat iron)?

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