Straightening products are a dime a dozen. But, most of these products aren’t effective enough for African American hair texture. To make it worse, many of the ones that claim to work on natural hair contain damaging and sometimes even dangerous chemicals.
So, if you’re on the verge of pulling your hair out looking for a straightening solution for your type of hair, this guide could be the end of your frustration.
We’ll take you through everything you need to know about straightening curly hair and recommend the six best products to help you achieve the results you’ve always dreamed of.
Options for Straightening Black Hair
There are a couple of options for straightening afro hair. For the most part, the option you choose is a matter of personal preference. But, each hair-straightening option has its advantages and drawbacks.
The most obvious advantage of using a flat iron is its design. These appliances apply heat directly to hair, making them very effective at straightening even the most stubborn hair. Additionally, flat irons aren’t as damaging to natural hair as they used to be.
Newer flat irons are designed with tourmaline, ceramic, or titanium plates. These plates are less damaging to hair compared to the traditional metal plates. Furthermore, modern flat irons come with customizable heat settings. This feature lets you find the lowest heat setting needed to straighten your hair, further reducing the possibility of hair damage.
Straightening hair with a flat iron also gives it a distinct silky and shiny look. It’s hard to replicate this look with other hair straightening methods. Finally, flat irons keep hair straight for longer, so you don’t need a touch-up during the day. You won’t have to worry about your hair shrinking or losing shape during the day.
The flat iron’s strength is also its Achilles heel. Direct heat contact means that there is a chance of damaging your hair. This is especially true if you use a high-heat setting. Possible heat damage symptoms that a flat iron can cause include dryness, dullness, frizziness, and breakage.
Also, a flat iron can leave hair looking unnaturally stiff. This case is especially true right after straightening your hair. You’ll often have to make this trade-off for longer-lasting results.
Hot combs work very similarly to flat irons by applying heat directly to the hair to straighten it. But, instead of flat plates, the teeth of the comb heat up. One of the best things about a hot comb is it gets closer to the roots of the hair than a flat iron.
This way, you get flatter, pin-straight hair that some people like. While flat irons give your hair a sleek look, hot combs achieve even better results in this department. Hot combs are very effective for curly, kinky, and unruly hair.
So if you aren’t entirely happy with the results of your flat iron, it might be worth switching to a hot comb. Naturally, there are downsides to using a hot comb. The most common concern is safety. Since the heated device gets close to your scalp, there is a chance of accidentally burning yourself.
In addition, it takes some experience to use a hot comb safely. Like with all heat-based hair straightening options, too much heat can damage your hair. So, you may want to use your hot comb sparingly.
A blow dryer is a convenient hair-straightening option. You can style your hair immediately after washing and towel-drying your hair. So you’ll be able to save those precious minutes when getting ready for work or a hot date.
There’s less direct heat contact with your hair. This means a lower chance of damaging your hair, especially when using a lower heat setting. The results can also be almost as good as a flat iron for softer hair.
A blow dryer is also versatile, allowing for more hairstyle options. For example, you can go for a more natural and voluminous look, which many women prefer to the stiffer and straighter look of the flat iron.
You can also alter airflow direction and brush tension to get a beautifully wavy or curly look. Blow dryers aren’t perfect either. For one, using a blow dryer has a learning curve for most people.
Learning to work with the blow dryer and hairbrush simultaneously takes a bit of practice. Straightening hair with a blow dryer is also more labor-intensive compared to a flat iron. The straightening effect also doesn’t last as long. You can only hope for a few hours until the hair starts to shrink.
Read Next: Best Hair Dryers
Relaxers use chemical agents to straighten hair. This method is very effective for straightening hair. You’ll be able to achieve stick-straight strands with minimal effort. The straightening process takes 10-15 minutes after prep work.
Another advantage of straightening hair with relaxers is its low maintenance. Your hair will always be ready to style, cutting your styling time in half. Relaxed hair is also more responsive to conditioning treatments and very easy to brush.
Finally, relaxers keep hair straight for longer. You only need to visit the hairdresser every six to eight weeks for a touch-up. With regular care, you won’t have to worry about re-straightening your hair every morning or every so often.
However, relaxers have their downsides. For one, the chemical agents can weaken your hair, especially if you aren’t taking proper care of it. The chemicals break down the protein in your hair to make it straight. These same proteins are directly responsible for keeping your hair strong and healthy.
Additionally, touch-ups mean adding more chemicals to your hair. People with especially sensitive scalps may find this process grueling. Unfortunately, this chemical exposure also increases the chances of damaging your hair. In addition, long-term relaxer use can have adverse effects on your hair.
Lastly, relaxers straighten your hair ‘permanently.’ This means you have to wait for your hair to grow out before it’s curly again. You’ll need to commit to straight hair with no option, other than heat styling, to wear it curly on a whim.
We highly recommend that you get your hair relaxed by a professional. Unfortunately, it is very easy to damage your hair with DIY relaxers, sometimes even permanently. For this reason, we won’t be recommending relaxers in this guide.
Texturizers work similarly to hair relaxers. But, texturizers are milder, making them safer for your hair. Where relaxers break down the protein bonds of your hair, texturizers merely loosen them. The result is looser and smoother hair that is easier to manage and style.
So, if you’re looking for DIY hair straightening treatment, texturizers may be a safer bet than relaxers. Texturizers are also easy to use, and you don’t have to leave the treatment on as long. Many of these products work in as little as five minutes. This means less chemical exposure for your hair and scalp. On the downside, texturizers are still chemical treatments. This means there is always a chance of damaging your hair, especially if you are straightening your hair yourself.
Also, texturizers don’t completely straighten your hair. Instead, the product loosens your curl patterns, making your hair easier to style and manage. So if you are looking for pin-straight hair, a texturizer isn’t the way to go.
Lastly, texturizers are ‘permanent.’ This means you need to either cut your hair or wait for new growth to revert to your natural hair. This may be a problem if you prefer to change your hair texture or style on a whim.
Once again, a texturizer is a chemical agent. We are hesitant to recommend these products because of their inherent risk. If you’re going to use a texturizer on yourself, please follow the directions to the letter.
Also, don’t leave the product in longer than recommended. This could damage your hair. Your best bet is always to go to a professional hairdresser who has experience working with texturizers.
Keratin treatments help to restore natural proteins in your hair, giving it a smooth and straight look. In addition, the keratin treatment promotes frizz-free hair, regardless of the weather and humidity. These treatments also last for up to four months, so you don’t need to straighten your hair every day.
Keratin treatments are also very versatile. The therapy even works for color-treated hair. So you don’t need to worry about your hair length or if your hair is thin, wavy, or curly. Keratin treatments work just as well for all hair types.
These treatments aren’t perfect either. One downside of Keratin treatments is the cost. The treatment costs anywhere from $250-$450, depending on where you go. Considering that the effects rarely last more than four months, some people might think it’s too expensive.
Also, keratin treatments can be intense. Many of these products contain formaldehyde. This ingredient can cause side effects in some people, including headaches, light-headedness, watery eyes, or skin irritation.
The product also stays on for up to 90 minutes, exposing your hair and skin to potential damage. Finally, there is some maintenance required. For one, you’ll have to wait for three to four days before washing your hair after the treatment. This might not be ideal if you like to wash your hair regularly.
In addition, chlorinated water such as swimming pools and the ocean can also shorten the life of the treatment. You’ll also need to use special shampoo for your hair. Specifically, you’ll need to invest in shampoos that don’t contain sulfates and chloride. These ingredients can disintegrate the treatment.
Read Next: Sulfate-Free Shampoos
6 Best Straightening Products for Black Hair
As we’ve already established, it’s best to get your hair chemically straightened by a professional. Therefore, we cannot recommend these products for home use in good conscience. But, there are plenty of other DIY products that you can use at home.
You’ll typically use these products with a flat iron, hot comb, or blow dry. These products help protect your hair from heat damage, such as brittle, dry, or unhealthy hair. Furthermore, these products help to loosen curls, making it much easier to straighten hair.
Our picks for the 6 best straightening products for black hair:
- Best for Heat Protection – MIZANI Thermasmooth Guard Serum
- Best Keratin Straightening Product – L’anza Healing Smoother Straightening Balm
- Best Anti-Humidity Straightening Product – TIGI Humidity Defying Straightening Cream
- Best Natural Hair Straightening Product – PHYTO Phytodefrisant Botanical Straightening Balm
- Best for Extensions – JuniorLabs Straight Silk Spray
- Best for Culmunative Benefits – B&B Straight Blow Dry Balm
1. Best Straightening Product for Heat Protection: Mizani Thermasmooth Guard Serum
If you have brittle or fragile hair or are dealing with severe heat damage, the MIZANI Thermasmooth may be the answer to your prayers. The serum effectively protects your hair from heat damage, allowing for a worry-free flat iron or blow dry morning routine.
Additionally, the serum helps restore damaged hair, just in case you are too late buying the product. It’s also very easy to use. Simply pump two or three times and distribute it through your hair. Just be sure to towel-dry and your hair before applying. You’ll also appreciate the coconut oil addition for no-frizz hair, even in high humidity.
The major complaint about this product is its consistency. The serum is thick, almost like syrup. As a result, it can be difficult to pump through the nozzle. You may sometimes need to take the top off and apply it directly to your hands. The thick product also makes combing through the hair a little tricky. However, the results are well worth the inconvenience, especially if you struggle with curly hair.
2. Best Keratin Straightening Product: L’anza Healing Smoother Straightening Balm
You don’t need to pay top-dollar and spend up to three hours at the salon to get a keratin treatment. L’anza straightening product is keratin-based, adding natural proteins to your hair. The result is a smooth, glossy finish, complete with straighter hair for longer.
The keratin component also helps to restore damaged hair. Another super ingredient that you don’t see very often is coix seed. This formulation helps to straighten coils, curls, waves, and even the toughest kinks.
Additionally, you can use the product on wet, damp, or dry hair, giving you more styling options. Finally, this grease-free product provides a natural finish. You won’t have to walk around with the evidence of product in your hair.
On the downside, this product is a bit pricey. This is hardly surprising for a keratin-based product. However, it is still much cheaper than getting a professional keratin treatment.
3. Best Anti-Humidity Straightening Product: TIGI Humidity Defying Straightening Cream
TIGI meant it when they said this product is humidity-defying. So if you have trouble keeping your hair straight on humid days, this TIGI straightening cream is the perfect solution. It protects against up to 98% humidity so that you can use it anywhere, even in Florida!
This product claims to last up to 48 hours. But, you may want to use it daily, especially if you have excessively curly hair. Simply pour the product into your hands and spread it thoroughly in damp hair. You can also use it on dry hair.
TIGI cream contains glycerin. This ingredient is perfect for protecting your hair against split hairs and breakage.
On the downside, the TIGI straightening cream doesn’t offer as much heat protection as other products mentioned here. If you have brittle hair prone to heat damage, you are better off with the L’anza or MIZANI above. Unfortunately, you’ll be giving up the TIGI’s spectacular frizz humidity protection, but it might be a worthwhile tradeoff.
Otherwise, if your main issue is humidity and keeping your hair straight for long periods, this TIGI Humidity Defying Straightening Cream comes highly recommended.
Read Next: How to Get Rid of Frizzy Hair
4. Best Natural Hair Straightening Product: PHYTO Phytodefrisant Botanical Straightening Balm
Some people are very particular about the ingredients they put on their hair. If this sounds like you, PHYTO Phytodefrisant Botanical Smoothing Balm is a safe bet. The heat-activated smoothing balm is 99% organic, so you don’t need to worry too much about putting harmful chemicals on your hair.
This product is easy to use. First, simply apply it evenly on damp hair. Next, be sure to use a wide-tooth comb to distribute the product throughout your tresses. Finally, blow-dry or flat iron your hair to straighten it.
This product has an exciting mix of natural ingredients, each with its benefits. The Mallow extract helps moisturize hair, while the combination of sage, ferula, Matricaria, and horseradish plant extract helps soften and smoothen the hair.
Lastly, this product contains guar gum to protect your hair against humidity. Its protection rivals the TIGI Humidity Defying Straightening Cream, which isn’t something you’d expect from a plant-based product.
The only thing to remember is that a little bit goes a long way. You only need to use a small amount of product to help straighten your hair. You won’t be rinsing it off, so using too much product will leave your hair greasy.
The only significant downside of this hair straightening product is its price. Many people may find it expensive. But, it is certainly worth paying extra for a (mostly) chemical-free product that works wonders.
5. Best Hair Straightening Product for Extensions: JuniorLabs Straight Silk Spray
- Works on all kinds of extensions, including human hair
- Good for stubborn, kinky hair
- Heat protection up to 450°F
- It contains moisturizing argan oil
- Slightly pricy
As you might already well know, even extensions need TLC to look their best. This JuniorLabs Straight Silk Spray is perfect for removing kinks from your extensions, so they last longer.
You can use it on all kinds of extensions, including 100% human hair. So, you’ll be able to get the most life from your luxury extensions. The product is also straightforward to use. Simply shake the bottle and spray it throughout your hair. Use this product on damp hair for the best result.
The best part about this JuniorLabs straightening spray is its versatility. It isn’t just for your extensions. You can also use it on your natural hair. It works just as well if you’ll be using a flat iron, blow dry, hot rollers, or curling iron.
JuniorLabs spray also contains Moroccan argan oil. This ingredient moisturizes and rejuvenates your hair. Finally, you get heat protection for up to 450°F and decent frizz control to boot.
This is a great all-around product. It is scent-free if you don’t like the smell of hair products. Additionally, JuniorLabs has left out most of the harmful chemicals from its formulation. For example, the straightening spray is alcohol-free, so it’s not flammable.
Additionally, it is also free of synthetic colors, phthalate, salt, sulfate, and paraben. There are no serious faults to speak of except that this hair straightening spray is slightly pricey. However, even this criticism is a bit of a stretch, given its remarkable properties.
6. Best Hair Straightening Product for Cumulative Benefits: B&B Straight Blow Dry Balm
Last but not least, we have the B&B Straight Blow Dry Balm. Many of the products featured here offer immediate or short-term benefits. Whether that’s protecting your hair against humidity, heat damage, or simply detangling your curls.
If you are looking for a daily-use product that offers long-term benefits, this Bumble & Bumble straightening balm is undoubtedly it. You’ll notice your that your hair becomes increasingly smoother and more manageable as you continue to use this balm.
The balm also reduces frizz for up to three days, which isn’t something you get with all straightening products. Simply apply a small amount evenly to damp hair. Then, blow-dry in sections for the best result.
The only downside with this B&B product is it is pricey. But, the high price tag is well worth it if you are in the market for the best hair straightening products.
What’s the Best Straightening Product for Black Hair?
Finding the best hair straightening product for natural hair can be a challenge. But things get easier when you know exactly what you need the product to do. That’s why this guide breaks down each of the featured products according to the best use case. This way, you’ll be able to identify the best product for your specific needs.
Each of the products featured here is exceptional in its own right. However, you may need to make some concessions here and there. There is no such thing as a perfect hair straightening product, but you can get pretty close.