Pictures of my waist‐length natural hair blown out semi‐straight always garner a lot of likes on social media. And I get it. Blown out afro‐textured hair is a fun and sexy look that makes for inspiring ‘hair porn’.

But I grew out my afro‐textured hair at a time when there was far less information online and a lot more work and woes.

I remember my third year being natural living in a region where the water was particularly harsh on my hair (although I didn’t make that connection initially.) I cut my hair 3 times because of incessant spit ends. I’m pretty sure that set me back at least 2 years!

Despite challenges like this I accidentally stumbled onto waist‐length hair two years ago. And while I attributed that retention to the long term protective styling I’d done (faux locs, twists, etc.) I suddenly felt trapped. How would I continue to maintain this length? Because, let’s be honest here, big natural hair with great length and body looks fabulous, but takes a lot of work and time to maintain.

So I entertained the question naturals aren’t supposed to…

What if protective styling isn’t the only way to retain massive amounts of length?

And that’s when it dawned on me that, in some ways, my hair has always been its own biggest enemy. I style my hair regularly and regardless of how much I detangle, it always seems to find ways to snag onto itself. Protective styling minimized the snagging and manipulation breakage, but I didn’t want to be in perpetual protective styling mode.

I found the answer to my problem with monthly heat styling.

What do natural hair experts think about this?

Audrey Davis‐Sivasothy author of The Science of Black Hair writes, “relaxed fibers are not as prone to manipulation breakage becasue the individual bends and kinks along the hair fiber have been chemically removed, making manipulation easier.” Although she’s speaking on chemically straightened hair, I imagine this also applies to heat‐straightened natural hair.

The trade off, of course, is that applying heat can make natural hair strands fundamentally weaker.

However I’ve been able to straighten my hair on a monthly basis without compromising its length or health.

So far these are the perks;

My hair no longer snags itself since the coils and kinks are straight.
My hair can be left loose without incurring too many tangles
I get to show off the length and thickness I’ve worked so hard for
Straightened hair is low maintenance on a day to day basis
The biggest challenge so far has been keeping my hair moisturized in a way that doesn’t cause it to revert back to its naturally coily Type 4 state. And I will keep you updated as I figure that out.