Flat Iron Hair & Possible Damage

Straightened African hair
Photo: Zdenka Darula/Shutterstock
Q: I have been happily nappy for a year and a half and am wondering just how long my hair has grown. If I get my hair straightened at the salon with a real ceramic flat iron will my hair ever return to normal? Is it safe to flat iron hair at all? Does heat cause the cuticles to open and then allow all of the moisture out?
Are the cuticles damaged because they are scraped with the flat iron while they are open? I would be mad at myself after growing so much healthy hair only to damage it and never get my kinky curls back just for the sake of a one-day style. If I do decide to look for someone to iron my hair out what standards, techniques, tools, and refund policies should they possess? Thank you so very much for this service!

A: Flat irons of all types only straighten the hair by making a physical reshaping of the hair shaft. As soon as the hair is subjected to moisture or warmth, its natural wave and texture will return.
And while it is true that the hair can be damaged by too frequent or improper heat styling, the flat iron is designed to avoid overly roughing the cuticle layer of the hair. Instead, the motion of the iron goes along the direction of the cuticle scaling.
Your salon stylist is trained and practiced in using a flat iron to safely straighten your hair, and you should have no worries about having your hair professionally styled in this way. As soon as the hair is once again shampooed and restyled in your normal manner, the hair should be back to its normal natural state.
If you go to any reputable salon - and these can be found by asking for referrals from friends whose opinions you trust - you can ask the manager about the salons policies on their service. Most salons won't do anything to risk permanent damage to your hair without having you sign a waiver.
And be sure to talk to the stylist directly to make sure he or she understands your concerns and explains everything he or she is planning to do and why. Remember, you're the one paying the money and therefore you're the one who has to be pleased with the results - and the service.
See also:
How many times a week can an African-American woman flat iron her hair?
How do you flat iron African-American hair?
If I were to get my hair straightened with a thermal ceramic iron stove would it be ok?
How to choose a flat iron