How To Flat Iron African-American Hair

Flat ironing bleached African hair
Photo: Robert Przybysz/Shutterstock
Q: How do you flat iron African-American hair?
A: The quick and easy answer on how to do it is: the same way you flat iron any hair. However, you do need to know that African-American hair can be more difficult to flat iron because of its coarse texture.
It also tends to be more porous and therefore more susceptible to damage from heat styling. This makes it important to use product (shampoos, conditioners, etc.) to restore the moisture balance and protect the hair against moisture loss and damage.
With any hair, flat ironing requires that you begin with clean, dry hair. Heat your iron and test it to make sure it isn't too hot, by placing a piece of tissue paper between the heating plates and pressing the tissue for approximately 5-10 seconds. The tissue should come out from between the plates dry, but clean. There should be no smoke, scorching or discoloration on the paper. If there is any sign of these things, then your flat iron is too hot and the temperature needs to be adjusted.
Begin ironing the hair by working in small sections. Separate a slice of hair approximately 1/8th of an inch thick and no wider than the heating plates of the flat iron. Pass the hair through the flat iron by closing the iron onto the hair and sliding it down the length of the hair in a smooth, fluid motion.
Getting the results you want may take a few passes as you learn exactly how the hair responds to the flat iron. Some people like to use spray laminators or oil sheen products when flat ironing African-American hair to enhance the shine. However, if you choose this, please use the product sparingly. Too much oil will be counter-productive and can result in literally "frying" the hair.
Work your way from the bottom of the head upward. And remember to keep your working segments thin in order to ensure even results. It may take a little practice, but you will quickly get the knack of working with the hair and the process will become quicker.
See also:
How many times a week can an African-American woman flat iron her hair?
Can you blow dry African textured hair straight? If not what is the result if blow dried?
If I were to get my hair straightened with a thermal ceramic iron stove would it be ok?
How to choose a flat iron