What It's Really Like To Straighten Naturally Curly Hair

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In Lady Gaga’s song, “I Like it Rough," she talks about, well, how rough she likes it. She gives a number of similes for the experience of loving her ranging from chewing on pearls to, ahem, straightening curls. This means she must enjoy it borderline impossible, right? Because straightening curls is a long, tedious — and sometimes spooky — process not for the faint of heart.



But, if you're looking for a real tutorial, I’ve found that the trick to straightening natural hair lies in five phases: conditioning, detangling, heat-protecting, heat repetition, and sealing. If you want to iron out your serpentine mane, you have to start in the shower with a thick conditioner and a wide-toothed comb. Comb out the saturated knots section by section, and then go back over it (still coated in conditioner, mind you) with a fine-toothed comb. This will make straightening a lot faster.

Next, after rinsing, make sure the hair isn’t tangled and then section it off. All hair reacts differently to products, so finding a a formula that will protect your hair but not be too watery is a process of elimination. You’re looking for a product that will protect your hair but not be too watery. I personally use John Frieda’s Frizz Ease Hair Serum, but again, my hair is not your hair.

Heat repetition is the most exhausting phase. Get ready to build your biceps and triceps, because between the weight of your hairbrush and blow dryer and flat iron, your arms don’t stand a chance. Starting at the roots, let your blow dryer follow your brush to the tip. Repeat with each section until it's mostly straight, or in my case, very puffy. You can forego this entire workout by getting a salon-style drying chair (or by shelling out a little bit at a Dominican salon for them to do the whole process — they’re incredible) and putting your hair in curlers for a half hour.

After your hair is thoroughly dry, plug in your ceramic flat iron. I put a little more heat protecting serum on my hair before this and then go over my hair in small sections with the flat iron until it calms down the way you’d like it. The entire process takes me about four hours, but if your hair doesn’t get tangled easily you might be able to shave some of that time off. Good luck, and don’t give up!

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Akilah Hughes — the twenty-something blogger behind It's Akilah, Obviously! — has pretty much won the Internet. When she's not studying improv at UCB, you can find her drunkenly reviewing young adult sagas or taking selfies of her increasingly large hair. You should probably follow her on Twitter.