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Yes, you can straighten your tight curls

Naturally curly hair is gorgeous just the way it is. Sometimes, it’s fun to switch up your look, though. Maybe you just need to hit refresh, or perhaps you’re tired of styling curls and would like to have smooth hair for a few weeks.

It’s possible to straighten your tight curls, though it’ll take some work. Styling hair can also lead to dryness, breakage, and damage, particularly when using heat or chemicals, so you’ll want to take some steps to keep your hair strong and healthy. Products and treatments can help you relax your curls, and others can reduce damage. Here are the top curly hair do’s for people craving smooth mane.

a beauty shot of a woman with straight hair against a brown background

Find your perfect product

Several treatments and products promise to help you relax tight curls. The best one for you will depend on what you’re looking for, including whether you’d like your hair straight short-term or long-term and how much time you want to spend in a salon chair.

Sodium hydroxide

You’ll find sodium hydroxide in lye relaxers, and it’s able to break down the hair’s bonds. Science aside, lye relaxers are known for being quicker and more efficient than their no-lye counterparts, which have less sodium hydroxide. You can have straighter hair in as little as 10 minutes, whereas no-lye relaxers typically take at least 20 minutes.

These relaxers are not something you want to try at home. Misused, the sodium hydroxide in lye relaxers can irritate or burn the scalp and cause hair loss. Lye relaxers typically straighten hair for about six weeks to three months, and then you’ll need a touchup.

Avoid using a flat iron daily after your treatment, and use low heat when you do. Shampoo and condition hair with moisturizing products twice per week and deep condition at least twice per month. Wrapping your hair at night can prevent breakage and keep hair relaxed.


Keratin treatments and products can help relax straight curls, though they may not completely straighten them. The trending Brazilian Blowout uses keratin to help reduce frizz, relax curls, and create a sleek look.

A few other keratin salon treatments include:

  • Keratin Complex
  • Cezanne

The treatments can take three to four hours but last three to five months. You can also find keratin products in beauty aisles and online, though they’ll probably only last a couple of weeks.

If receiving a salon treatment, you’ll want to steer clear of touching hair (including brushing it) for three days. Sleep with it down during that time, using a silk pillowcase to reduce breakage and frizz. Avoid using products on high heat to prevent further damage.

After your three-day layoff, wash your hair with a shampoo that does not contain sulfate or chlorine two to three times per week. A moisturizing conditioner, such as one with coconut or argan oil, can rehydrate hair.

While keratin sounds great, it’s crucial to note treatments often contain formaldehyde, which the American Cancer Society has identified as a known carcinogen. Speak with a doctor about any concerns.

Apple cider vinegar

If you’re looking to straighten your tight curls, your secret weapon may be lurking in the condiment aisle rather than the beauty one. Experts say apple cider vinegar works similar to keratin but straightens curly tresses naturally and without chemicals. All the while, it balances pH levels, reduces inflammation, banishes build-up from product use, and reduces scalp infections. Consider adding two tablespoons of it to a cup of water and putting it in your hair after washing it.

the back of a person's head. she has long, shiny, straight hair

Step by step for heat-based styling

If you’re straightening your tight curls at home with a straightener, you’ll want to follow these steps to get your desired look while reducing damage.

1. Wash hair with a shampoo designed for strengthening hair to prep your mane and get rid of build-up and residue.

2. Condition hair using a frizz-fighting and moisturizing product.

3. Put in a leave-in conditioner to further protect hair. The conditioner should moisturize hair as well as prevent breakage and heat damage.

4. Spray on a heat-protectant with keratin. The protectant should work up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Air dry hair. Blow drying the hair will only up your risk for heat damage. Wait until the hair is completely dry to continue. If you don’t have time to air dry, use the lowest possible heat setting on your dryer.

6. Divide and conquer. Brush your hair, and divide tresses into thirds or fourths, depending on how much you have. Start with the bottom layer and run the straightener from root to tips twice. Work your way to the top, pinning up the sections you aren’t working on as you go.

7. Polish hair with a smoothing cream that reduces frizz, locks in moisture, and adds a little extra shine to the hair.

As much as you may love your curly hair, it can be fun to experiment with different looks. A new style can feel like a breath of fresh air, but straightening tight curls with heat or chemical-based treatments puts your mane at risk for more at risk for product build-up, frizz, breakage, and dehydration. You can mitigate damage by using heat protectants and products that hydrate and strengthen the hair. Leave treatments, like lye relaxers, to the professionals. Others, like apple cider vinegar, are under-the-radar, natural ways to get a sleek new ‘do at home.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

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