The One Thing You *Need* to Be Doing If You Have Kinky-Curly Hair

No more breakage, shrinkage, or split ends, ever again.

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Recently, while I lamented my curly hair woes to Jasmine Santiago, resident curl whisperer and all-around magical hairstylist, I mentioned how I rarely use my blow-dryer, since heat is so damaging to curls. "Actually," started Santigo, "heat is a kinky-curl's best friend." And I blacked out in shock.

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Yes, folks, heat plus curls equals magic, apparently. Or, at least, it does for those with super-coiled hair. "Women with kinky hair are terrified of heat, because of decades of myths," says Santiago. "Every single client who comes into my salon gets nervous when I pull out my blow-dryer, saying they're afraid to lose their curl pattern or damage their hair." But in reality, she adds, "heat does not damage hair; people damage hair."

That's not to say you should stick your hair in a fireplace or lay it over a flat-iron for 40 minutes, because yes, duh, you'll fry it off. But, when used with the right combo of products, "heat can completely strengthen the health of your curls," says Santiago, who super-strongly urges everyone with kinky-curly hair to blow it out each time they rinse it. Twice.

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"Whether you're doing straight style or a protective style, you absolutely need to first blow your hair out with a comb attachment and a huge palmful of leave-in conditioner—when you think you've applied enough, you haven't—and then spritz the whole thing with water, rake in a palmful of oil, and blow it out again," says Santiago (note: we like Aussie Moist Deep Conditioner and Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla Pure Hair Oil). "The heat from the blow-dryer will help the conditioner permeate your hair shaft, while the oil will lock in all the moisture to form a protective barrier."

Basically, shrinkage, breakage, split ends, and knots really shouldn't be happening if your hair is properly moisturized. And that, in itself, is almost a revolutionary thought to anyone with kinky hair. "The issue is that most women just slather on a leave-in conditioner and call it a day, not realizing that the conditioner mainly sits on top of their strands, instead of penetrating them," she says. "But when you combine conditioner and oil with heat, even a classic blow-out can be a protective style, since the hair is so deeply hydrated and stretched out."

Yes, it's true: You can still have a straight-blown style without compromising your curl health. You can actually do pretty much anything you want with kinky-curly hair, as long as you treat it really nicely, take it on a few dates, write it a poem or two, and lay on the heat. The more you know, right?

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