Gen­er­al­ly, I fol­low the mantra of “nev­er say nev­er.” How­ev­er, there comes a time when you real­ize the like­li­hood that you will make cer­tain deci­sions in the future are slim to none. In my case, hair straight­en­ing has become one of those deci­sions. Now, before you think my rea­son has to do with my views about rep­re­sen­ta­tions of beau­ty and my oppo­si­tion to con­form­ing to a beau­ty stan­dard, think again. Hair is…well, just hair and I hap­pen to like wear­ing my hair in its nat­ur­al state the vast major­i­ty of the time. Still, I also can appre­ci­ate a diver­si­ty of styles, includ­ing straight­ened hair. So why do I doubt that I will straight­en my hair in the near or dis­tant future? Well, I sim­ply don’t see the ben­e­fits that at one time moti­vat­ed my rea­son to occa­sion­al­ly straight­en.

Occa­sion­al­ly, I would straight­en my hair so I could see the “true” length of my nat­ur­al hair. Sure, I could tell it was grow­ing by tug­ging on a strand, but I felt that I nev­er had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to enjoy my length progress (at least not ful­ly) unless I wore it straight­ened. This was par­tial­ly true pri­or to start­ing my healthy hair jour­ney, when I didn’t know how to stretch my hair with­out heat or safe­ly use heat. Now that I have reached my goal length, I’ve run into an inter­est­ing conun­drum when it comes to hair straight­en­ing. My hair no longer seemed longer when straight­ened despite being stretched to its max­i­mum. This may not make much sense, so let me explain.

Straight hair may dis­play length but in my case it dimin­ish­es vol­ume. Over­all, my hair appears to be thin­ner, so while tech­ni­cal­ly longer it appears that I have less hair. Below is an exam­ple of my hair straight­ened and my hair blown out in a tex­tured style that shows how neg­li­gi­ble a few inch­es of straight hair have on the appear­ance of hair when com­pared to a thick­er, fuller style.

prof pic
Loose Braid Out on Blown Out Hair
Professionally Straightened Hair
Pro­fes­sion­al­ly Straight­ened Hair

Some of you aren’t keen on straight­en­ing your hair any­way, so my expe­ri­ence may not sway you one way or anoth­er. But if you do straight­en often and have suf­fered adverse effects, you might con­sid­er oth­er ways to dis­play your length, if that is indeed one of your styling goals. This is espe­cial­ly true once you reach arm pit length and longer. Even­tu­al­ly you may find that when com­pared, your some­what short­er, more volu­mi­nous hair doesn’t appear that much short­er than bone straight hair. The full­ness of your hair can off­set the shrink­age you might expe­ri­ence just as the length of your hair can be off­set by its thin­ness, if your hair los­es vol­ume when straight.

If you val­ue dis­play­ing your length and the thick­ness of your hair, styles such as roller sets or braid outs or loose ban­tu knots on blown out hair are much bet­ter options than flat iron­ing. Not only do you get the best of both worlds, (tex­ture and length) but you reduce the like­li­hood of dam­age your tress­es.


Do you pri­or­i­tize length or vol­ume when styling your hair? If you some­times straight­en your hair what are some of the rea­sons? Style? Enjoy­ing your length?


Island girl raised in the most roy­al of NYC’s bor­oughs. Proud nerd, social sci­en­tist, edu­ca­tor and recov­er­ing awk­ward black girl. When not lis­ten­ing to NPR, try­ing to grow spir­i­tu­al­ly, or detan­gling my fro, I’m search­ing for the best shrimp and grits in the Queen City.

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37 Comments on "Why I May Never Straighten My Hair Again"

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Each time before I wash my hair, I pull out my blow dry­er like today will be the day! Then I wash (or cow­ash). And con­di­tion (or deep con­di­tion). And detan­gle. And then rinse and detan­gle. Then leave-in con­di­tion. Then mois­tur­ize. Then oil. And then I look at my hair, then down at the blow dry­er, and a strange ache devel­ops in my shoul­ders. My brain antic­i­pates the agony. I inad­ver­tent­ly glance at the clock: god this is going to take how long??? For­tu­nate­ly the baby cries, and the wash­er stops, the dish­wash­er buzzes, the mail­man knocks, the dog barks,… Read more »
Same here. I just did my sec­ond chop about 4 months ago to get rid of heat dam­age from the ONE time since I went nat­ur­al that I decid­ed to flat iron. The worst part was that as she was doing my hair and I felt it fall past my shoul­ders, I real­ized it was actu­al­ly a bit longer than I real­ized (I would have guessed just at or maybe half an inch past shoul­der length) and thought, Vin­di­ca­tion! I must be doing every­thing right! My hair looked nice enough when she was done, but it was so dull to… Read more »
Nakema Moss

I hate straight hair. I per­son­al­ly look bet­ter with vol­ume and curls. Nat­ur­al hair ups the appear­ance in my hon­est opin­ion.

My hus­band once “caught” me pulling down my hair to show the length. He asked, “Why are you doing that?” Me: “I’m check­ing to see if my reg­i­men is work­ing. I just want­ed to see my progress.” He asked me if I planned on wear­ing my hair straight. I said no. He said, “If you don’t plan on wear­ing your hair straight, why pull it down? The length of your hair is where it nat­u­ral­ly falls. Isn’t it?” We all know the “true” length of our hair is what it is when we pull it down or what the tape mea­sure… Read more »

I do roller sets all the time. Rarely do I feel the urge to flat iron. Roller sets stretch out my have enough to dis­play some length with out los­ing vol­ume. Good arti­cle.




I pri­or­i­tize vol­ume when styling my tress­es as well. Love the loose braid out look.


Grow­ing healthy hair is my main pri­or­i­ty


What a great arti­cle. I appre­ci­ate deeply how you explained your deci­sion not to straight­en. I haven’t straight­en my hair since 2009 and haven’t missed it at all. I pre­fer vol­ume and healthy curls over heat straight­ened length.

Mary Walker

Oh, my good­ness. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought this but didn’t have the words to express it. I have noth­ing against straight hair. I just don’t like it well enough to invest the time and effort it requires to achieve. My hair goals all relate to my hair in its curly state. I want an arm pit length wash and go. How long that means my hair will be when in straight­ened is imma­te­r­i­al. I tru­ly do not care.

Jasmine Banks

I total­ly agree my hair always looks flat and life­less when its bone straight


After not using a flat iron since 2010, I had my hair straight­ened (by a pro­fes­sion­al) for Hal­loween and I real­ized a few things:
1) Who was the girl in the mir­ror with straight hair??? I didn’t like how flat and life­less my hair looked (even though it had been curled)
2) It eas­i­ly revert­ed, which made me feel that straight­en­ing was a waste of time for me
3) A blow out yields me volu­mi­nous hair that can be braid­ed or twist­ed to yield beau­ti­ful tex­tured styles!

My hair was still tex­tur­ized the last time I flat-ironed it or had it blown dry on high heat. That was almost 8 years ago. I hadn’t want­ed it done then, and I have no inten­tion of ever doing it again. I notice that my hair shrinks more over time as it los­es mois­ture. The more dehy­drat­ed it becomes, the more it shrinks. But the only time it’s ever stretched com­plete out is when I pull a tress taut so it can boing back into place again, just for amuse­ment. Or when it’s so weight­ed by fresh­ly applied prod­uct that it… Read more »
Aliyah Morrison

I feel the same I like your hair bet­ter in a loose braid out hair crush lol it looks ok flat ironed straight though but kind of like every­oneelses hair . I always loved big curly kinky curly or kinky Afro hair ! I just final­ly decid­ed to wear it .

Aliyah Morrison

I care more about hav­ing big healthy hair then see­ing all my hair length . Big nat­ur­al hair already looks long any­way and it looks way bet­ter than thin bor­ing straight hair that any­one can get . I’m in the awk­ward stage length as long as my hair grows big is healthy and grows to my shoul­ders with shrink­age I’ll be ok .


I love big, big hair. I have small locs (almost sis­ter­lock size), and I’m so jeal­ous of loose nat­u­rals with their big hair. I lit­er­al­ly swoon (and I’m straight) over girls with big hair. So no flat, straight crap for me.


I total­ly agree with this arti­cle. I have very thin, fine hair and the only way I have any full­ness and vol­ume is by wear­ing it in its nat­ur­al, frizzy/bushy tex­ture. The more its smoothed and straight­ened out, the thin­ner and limp it looks.Not cute on me.

To some extent I feel that an obses­sion with length to be a white suprema­cist con­cept born of a cul­ture that has brain­washed black peo­ple into believ­ing that their hair tex­ture is infe­ri­or. That’s why I per­son­al­ly refuse to straight­en my hair, because I came to feel that doing so would only con­firm what THEY think of my peo­ple, my sis­ters in par­tic­u­lar, and that doing so only con­firms that white women are the beau­ty stan­dard to which we are expect­ed to emu­late. While I won’t dic­tate to oth­er black women the choic­es they should make with regard to hair styles, I… Read more »
My hair pri­or­i­ties are: 1) Grow a head full of healthy hair. 2) Accept the pres­ence of sin­gle strand knots. 3) Achieve and main­tain a volu­mi­nous, kink-curly fro every day. .… 1,462) Straight­en my hair. The longer I am nat­ur­al and the longer my hair gets, the more I love it and would not want to change it. My hair is stub­born, cranky, and does not like to be manip­u­lat­ed at all out­side of its dai­ly wash and go ses­sion, and I respect that. I can’t put my hair through a straight­en­ing ses­sion just to show off length or to sat­is­fy curios­i­ty because… Read more »

“to sat­is­fy curios­i­ty,” *stands up and slow claps* i try not to get irri­tat­ed when fam­i­ly members/friends beg me to straight­en my hair. they always back up their request with “don’t you want to know how long your hair is?!” sigh.


2) Accept the pres­ence of sin­gle strand knots. 


Harlee Jo
I’ve been nat­ur­al for near­ly a year and I want­ed to see what my hair would look like bone straight. Num­ber 1 it took me like 5 hours to straight­en it because my hair’s so thick and it was my first time attempt­ing to straight­en my nat­ur­al hair. Sec­ond when I was fin­ished my hair was silky smooth and soft but flat and BORING and I wasn’t moti­vat­ed to do any­thing else to it. It was such a waste of time. I nev­er thought I would be one those girls advo­cat­ing to not straight­en, but here I am. I prob­a­bly will… Read more »

Same here! My hair blown out is just fine by meI I show off length and have full­ness!

This does not seem odd to me. Not want­i­ng bone straight hair was one nod to my nat­ur­al hair jour­ney. My permed hair could nev­er, nev­er, ever get bone straight nor did it stay straight longer than a few hours. The major­i­ty of my hair is an admix­ture of 3C/4a and espe­cial­ly the crown was chem­i­cal­ly resis­tant. Frankly when I looked at my face after a perm I did not like what I saw. I want­ed vol­ume! So I pre­fer vol­ume over length if you had to com­pare! I like them both. I can’t wait to get to your hair… Read more »

I can see my length best after I remove my mini twists. I haven’t heat styled since 2011.

The last time I heat-straight­ened my nat­ur­al hair, I got so many com­pli­ments and “you should keep your hair that way” com­ments at work that I swore I would nev­er straight­en again. Actu­al­ly I had already decid­ed to loc and it was real­ly a good­bye-to-straight-hair straight­en­ing, but even after I got rid of the locs I still refused to straight­en it. It’s been 11 years since that last straight­en­ing. Recent­ly I had an epiphany: I didn’t like straight hair when I HAD it (as a relax­er wear­er). It had no life, it wouldn’t hold a curl, it broke off when… Read more »
I total­ly agree with this arti­cle, and I have felt the same way about straight­en­ing my hair. I have 4c hair, and although I have a lot of hair, each indi­vid­ual strand is very fine. When my hair is straight­ened it is sooo flat com­pared to a lush afro from first-day braid­outs, let alone day two or three. I pre­fer the full­ness. It’s my hair show­ing all of it’s tex­ture and curl. It gives me hair style and char­ac­ter. When my hair is straight, not only do I look like every­one else, but I also don’t even look like myself.… Read more »

When my hair was straight­ened, I looked in the mir­ror and didn’t rec­og­nize myself either!


Love the loose braid­out on blown out hair much bet­ter. Vol­ume is what I’m going for. Nev­er liked how my hair looked thin on relaxed or straight­en hair.


Her heat free stretched hair is every­thing! This is why I nev­er straight­en my hair unless I plan to add exten­sions bc my hair only looks full in its nat­ur­al state or in old twist outs ect.


I feel you on this! I had my hair straight­ened last month and my hair didn’t show much vol­ume. I loved the length but I sim­ply did not know what to do with my hair or how to man­age it straight lol. 

Not only that but some of my hair suf­fered a but of heat damage…which made me decide if I want a straight look I will prob­a­bly go to a sew in or some­thing to achieve that


Your hair looks great in your thumb­nail! Is that a roller­set?


Unfor­tu­nate­ly, that’s not me lol. But for my hair I had got­ten a silk blowout.


That’s one of many things I love about being nat­ur­al. When I had a relax­er my hair was so flat to my head. I love the vol­ume of nat­ur­al hair.


Best read in a long. Good info and insight.

This arti­cle was right on time as I’ve also reached a sim­i­lar con­clu­sion. Before my hair was at APL, the dif­fer­ence in my shrunk­en hair and my straight­ened hair was +50% My hair would be about 12″ long all around but eas­i­ly shrink to a 4 to 6 inch appear­ance depend­ing on the style. Also, my own hair is less than two years old at APL, so the wear and tear of a straight­en­ing ses­sion isn’t that dam­ag­ing (because I’m care­ful and I main­tain my hair with lots of TLC and deep con­di­tion­ing). Now that I’m at MBL and gun­ning… Read more »