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.
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?