If you’re halfway through your transitioning hair journey or nearing its end and “living the natural hair life” is all you can dream of you’ll soon learn, once you get there, that shrinkage is a real thang. For many naturals, it can keep them from enjoying their real hair length. While reaching for heat styling tools would have been the solution in a past “hair life”, today there are some inventive tools to straighten your curly hair without heat.
I speak for myself when I say that heat can easily become a dreaded monster when transitioning to natural hair. It’s certainly not a laughing matter when what’s at stake is going back to square one on your transitioning journey or, if you’re more courageous, do a big chop.
Luckily, while it’s no lie our hair can lend itself to virtually anything we wanna do to it (yes, you only need to check Instagram or Pinterest for natural hairstyles to witness bursts of creativity reflected on to our natural hair), the truth is people have also come up with some original tools that allow us to avoid shrinkage and heat damage while also enjoy our hair’s length.
Still, don’t forget to always have your hair well moisturised, especially as Winter approaches. Here’s a free cheat sheet to keep you on track.
Care to have a look at some of your heat-free options for stretched hair? Yeah, I thought so.
6 Inventive Tools
To Straighten Your Curly Hair Without Heat
The use of hair bands to straighten hair is known as Banding. This consists of using several hair bands to tie them along the length of your sectioned hair. The sections can be as big or as small as you want them to be. You can do this on freshly washed and moisturised hair, let it dry completely and remove the hair bands. Alternatively, you can take an old hairstyle, re-moisturise the hair and let it set.
Your final look on freshly washed hair will be a wavy one if you comb through your hair and then apply the hair bands. If, however, you do it on freshly washed and moisturised curly hair without combing through, you’ll get a stretched wash and go look. Your hair won’t shrink as much. This will also be the look you get if you do it on an old wash and go. Here’s a tutorial for guidance by Curly Twirls.
Well, if weaves are sewed to our hair close to the scalp, it’s not strange to know threads can be used to stretch our coily hair. In fact, this is certainly a much older technique than the use of weaves to cover/protect our hair. The technique is commonly known as Threading and, as you are probably guessing, you’ll need lots of thread to achieve this stretched style plus, I won’t lie, lots of time as it can be time-consuming.
As with banding, you’ll section your moisturised hair and begin threading your hair in a looping motion around the hair close to the scalp, leaving little to no space between each loop. In the end, you’ll have sections of hair that look like long round sticks. Here’s a really good tutorial by JudithsNatural Hair on threading.
#3| STRAIGHT PLATES
Don’t worry these aren’t your flat iron’s plates. These are flat or straight plastic plates that you put your hair in and close to help straighten your hair. They work by pulling and securing your hair tightly while it dries. While the look may look like something out of Danny Glover’s movie The Predator, the end result will give you most, if not all, of your real hair length. Curious on how to apply these? Check out Naturally Elite.
I can only describe this tool as spiral flat pockets. I actually own these and they give you an amazing look. Your hair will feel silky and look shiny, with amazing bouncy curls. Okay, so you may ask “Monica what’s the point of using a tool to put spiral curls if our hair is already curly?”.
Hey, I hear you girlfriend, but the thing is we like versatility and with the Curlformers tool we can get a totally different look from what we are used to and we can still get that length we’re looking for. Now, this tool requires some effort to master, but once you do you may get hooked on it. Most tutorials use heat, but you can air dry it. Check AuCurls Naturelle.
Yes, you read it right. You’re gonna need some straws for this option like the one you use for your juices or smoothies. The first time I saw this technique I was pretty surprised with its new given use, people can be really resourceful and this is a perfect example of it. Although it’s a pretty inexpensive resource you have to get your length back, it may only apply to short-medium length hair since straws aren’t that long.
Anyway, you can keep them as they are or cut them if you have shorter hair and you’ll also need bobby pins, but hey I bet you have tons of those. Again, your hair will still have some curls to its shape, but if you have very tight, coily curls or extreme shrinkage you’ll get that length you’re looking for. Here’s our beautiful British girl WomenInTheJungle showing how you can master the straw set and how you can restyle this look throughout the week. Cool, right? She’s super.
While there are other tools to achieve straighter or more stretched styles such as perm rods, flexi rods and even a roller set, I wanted to give you a few other options and, as you can see, they are very inventive tools you can use to straighten your curly hair, some at a very low price.
With the exception of the straight plates, which looks pretty straightforward to me, the tools in this post will require a bit of technique and practice. Although they look simple and easy, the first time will probably not give you the result you’re looking for, but don’t get discouraged practice, because in these particular cases practice makes perfect! If, however, you do nail them down, you’re a natural!
As always, when doing any hairstyle make sure your hair is well moisturised with a water-based product. If you want to you can seal with a light styling gel or vegetable oil. Make sure your hair is well detangled to avoid knots and tangles and let your hair air dry completely or it can revert back to its curls.
In case you’re very impatient and your hair takes ages to dry, you can speed up the drying process by hopping under a standing or hooded dryer with moderate heat. For Curlformers, you’ll need to use their Softhood Bonnet to attach to your hairdryer and for the straight plates, you can buy it from the brand, CWK Girls.
I hope these tutorials will help avoid the heat, or excessive heat, to straighten your transitioning or natural hair. They will surely give a new look and help you bypass all those frustrations with shrinkage.
Finally, because Winter is fast approaching don’t forget to keep your hair well moisturised and protected. Here is a free cheat sheet you can download so you don’t forget what you must be doing.