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I’m Dominican, and I have thick, long, curly, coarse, dry, low-porosity hair. For most of my life, it has been the bane of my existence. I say this because beautiful hair in my culture is typically straight. Period. This is why Dominican blow-outs are so popular. My parents’ generation in particular saw the natural curly or kinky state of my hair as unruly and unkempt. Growing up around this mentality does very little for a healthy view or acceptance of the natural state of curly hair. This being the case, I’ve always tried to dominate it in different ways – the most memorable being relaxing it from the age of 10 through my early 20s. After my scalp fought back, with a life-changing case of dermatitis, I have moved away from chemical warfare and have moved on to other methods. I try to find methods of caring for my hair that will give me a number of styling choices with the least amount of damage to my hair. Basically, since my scalp debacle in my early 20s, I’ve reinvented my hair identity to love and accept my natural curly hair as well as the option of going straight and the full spectrum in between. So you can imagine my excitement at having the opportunity to try the Coolway Autosense Styler flat iron – a product that proposes straight hair without the heat damage.
During the periods when I straighten my hair, I typically wash it once a week. Any more would be quite damaging. Normally, I set my hair in curlers; I’ve found that this method of indirect heat is the best in maintaining my hair healthy and shiny. This is particularly true in the case of my ends. To remove the imprint of the curlers on my roots, I do flat iron them. My hair, however, has excellent heat memory and afterward needs very little to no maintenance to keep the shape from this process. If I want my hair straighter or curlier throughout the week, I can use non-heat methods like wrapping it or pinning it overnight. I lived in China for a while and during that period would use a regular flat iron on a weekly basis during the winter, as I had no other straightening methods available. For special occasions, I do use heat tools to have the desired style. For example, I’ve learned how to create controlled waves in my straightened hair using a flat iron.
As far as my experience with the Coolway Autosense Styler flat iron, I liked the idea that the amount of heat used would be less than 300 degrees. (I typically use 400 to 450 degrees on other flat irons and the highest setting at any one time during my month of experimentation with the Coolway Autosense was 298 degrees.) As per the instructions, I used the Boost serum and Transform spray included in the starter kit every time I used the flat iron. The Boost serum is to be used the first time as a conditioner replacement and is to be left in hair for four minutes. After the first time, I continued to use it after a regular conditioner, according to recommendations. Also, because of the length and fullness of my hair, I would spray the length of my hair 50 times with the Transform spray, as indicated on the bottle. Then, I would comb it to distribute evenly and blow-dry my hair until it was 90% dry. At this point, I would begin to use the AutoSense Styler flat iron.
However, while the flat iron did straighten my hair, it took longer to achieve results somewhat similar to those from my normal straightening routines. To achieve the desired results, I had to flat iron the same sections more than three to four times, and so was left wondering how much heat damage I had really prevented in using this method. Furthermore, my hair was left looking lackluster and had undesired volume. In fact I would describe my hair in certain sections as nearly frizzy. Consequently, I had a kind of helmet head look. The weeks where I achieved the best results were when I used an after-heat product to seal my hair cuticle. It added much-needed shine and seemed to make my hair less frizzy. I also wrapped my hair overnight and was able to have a nicer look the next day. Another limitation was that the Coolway flat iron was ineffective in creating waves or curls. I think the low heat made it impossible for my hair to acquire the style I wanted. All in all, I definitely will not continue to use this product. For my particular hair type, it does not seem to be effective; my hair needs the heat for styling. This does not mean, however, that it would not be suitable for other hair types. I think someone with more porous hair, perhaps finer or less curly hair, would be able to achieve quite desirable results.