Natural Hair Straightening Product

Straightened black hair
Photo: Air Images/Shutterstock
Q: First I would like to say that your site is so wonderful! I have been on here for almost 2 hours taking notes! I am Black (African-American) and I have had numerous issues with relaxers. I am currently growing out my relaxer. I have had my hair braided in micros for about two months now and will be taking them out shortly. I have heard about a natural straightening product made by "Janelle Beauty".
I was wondering, have you ever heard of this product and is it safe? I don't want any chemicals in my hair, but I don't care for the "Afro" look either. How do you attain straight hair without straightening every day? And another question: when you straighten your hair, what type of flat iron is best (ceramic, etc.) and what is the optimal temperature before it's too hot and begins to damage your hair?

A: When dealing with hair that is not naturally straight, smooth and silky, getting it straight on a daily basis involves either using heat styling (blow-dryer and/or flat iron) or using a chemical process to permanently alter the texture and wave pattern of the hair.
Now, the Janelle Beauty Company has come out with a product which they have entitled “Diva Smooth” and which is supposed to give you smooth, shiny and silky hair without chemicals. Yet even this product is meant for use with blow-dry and flat-iron straightening. The product seems to be an all-natural protector for the hair to prevent damage caused by the heat styling. The ingredient list on the company’s website lists only natural ingredients, and none of the ingredients listed indicate that the product will offer any sort of permanent straightening benefit.
As a protector and conditioner, it would likely work very well in conjunction with straightening, and the testimonials I’ve read (no one I’ve seen anywhere will post a complete ingredients list, claiming that the product has a patent pending) indicate that the vast majority of the clients on whom the product has been used have truly loved the results.
If I were an African-American woman who wanted to try the Diva Smooth product, the information available would make me very interested, but as a professional, I cannot tell you whether or not the product is truly natural until I can get a complete listing of the contents of the product.
As to the rest of your questions, the type of flat iron best suited for straightening hair is largely a matter of personal preference. Just remember that you want the surface of the heating plates to have a non-stick texture so that the hair passes smoothly between them. You also want very fine temperature control so that you can set your temperature in more than just “low”, “medium” and “high” settings.
Lastly, make sure the size of the tool is comfortable in your hand and that you can manipulate it easily. A tool that is so large as to be unwieldy in your hands can do more harm than good. The wider the heating plates of the iron are, the more hair they are meant to straighten at one time. This means a wide tool can be terrific for longer hair but won’t allow the fine control needed for short hair styles, so keep the length of your hair in mind.
Finally, in order to properly set the temperature of your flat iron and ensure that you won’t simply burn off the hair, always test the iron before you use it on your hair. Take a piece of tissue paper (or the end wrap from a perm kit) and lightly mist it with water. Press the tissue between the heating plates of the iron and hold it for five to ten seconds. When released, the tissue should come out dry and smooth, but without any scorching or discoloration.
If there is any discoloration, or scorch marks, the iron is too hot and the temperature should be lowered and retested after a few minutes. Also, don’t forget that you are always supposed to use a flat iron on fully dry hair. When damp hair is pressed into a flat iron, the moisture trapped in the hair is heated and boiled out of the hair, which can damage the hair more than an overly hot iron. Think of it as cooking the hair.
See also:
How do you flat iron African-American hair?
How many times a week can an African-American woman flat iron her hair?