Why I May Never Straighten My Hair Again

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 thoughts on “Why I May Never Straighten My Hair Again

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 says or what one of those length check shirts say, but why does it matter? I agree with my husband. I can see my progress from looking at pictures. My hair was above my shoulders in this photo, it’s touching my shoulders here in my twist out, etc.

    When I was in elementary school, there were girls – biracial and black – who had braids swing to the middle of their back like ropes. There were also black girls who had braids that sat firmly between their shoulder blades, like my daughter. No heat was needed to show their length. The braids were sufficient to show their length.

    So what my hair stretches to a certain length when I pull it or flat iron. I can’t very walk around holding the ends of my hair down between my fingers to show people, “See? My hair is truly mid-back length?” That’s informative content for YouTube viewers but it doesn’t translate to life outside of blogs and uploads. It’s not a contest. No one is going to give me a gold medal, a million dollars and a cookie for showing my “real length.”

    I think it’s a lot of work just to blow-dry my hair much less straighten it. So my hair is a long as it naturally falls and that’s good enough for me.

    Lastly, my hair is fragile and I’m over 35. After a certain age many of us just don’t look good with our hair pressed against our scalps. There are women of many ages that don’t look good with their hair hanging like a curtain on either side of their faces because of their facial structure, height, body type . . . whatever! Volume, curls, waves look flattering on a lot more women than flat hair pressed to either side of your face like Morticia Adams just to show off the length. Then if it’s hot or raining, it shrinks up anyway. Hey, some women can pull it off and look beautiful. It’s their choice. But some us can’t.

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

  6. 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 me–I felt as though my personality had been ironed away. And of course when I wet it I realized my curls were gone. Much as I miss my length, I’m so much happier seeing healthy curls on my head again and have no intention of conducting any more experiments.

  7. 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, and errands need to be run if dinner’s to be ready on time. Older kids will be home soon so snacks need to be ready (and my one tank of patience is best reserved not for hair, but for our school agers). Next wash, I’m definitely blow drying!

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