Calling all naturalistas: Do you have urgent tress questions? If so, you’re in luck. Every Thursday, natural hair blogger extraordinaire CurlyNikki will be solving your curly hair conundrums! Submit your questions by tweeting them to @EssenceMag with the hashtag #AskCurlyNikki.

READER QUESTION: Nikki, I love your blow-out results. How do you do it? Are you afraid of damage or curl loss?

CURLYNIKKI’s RESPONSE: Thanks chica! I love a good blow-out as it allows me to channel my inner Chaka-Diana-mega-diva and also serves as a great primer for sexy updos and voluminous twist-outs. I try not to do it too often and reserve them for more thorough trim sessions and special occasions. Below, you’ll find my tried and true and least damaging methods for blowing out my curls:

  1. Cleanse thoroughly (shampoo, not a cleansing conditioner), condition and deep condition for 30 minutes.
  2. Detangle and apply a light coating of leave-in conditioner and/or oil (locking in your moisture) and apply a heat protectant. Some products will both seal and protect!
  3. Blot excess moisture and allow hair to air dry for 15 minutes prior to starting. Blow drying wet hair can lead to loss of elasticity and in the long run, breakage.
  4. Keep the heat setting on low-medium, speed on high with the air from the nozzle blowing down the shaft (not up the strands or straight on, as it will disturb the cuticle).
  5. Blow dry in small sections, twisting completed sections to keep them out of the way as you continue.
  6. I use a high quality ceramic dryer with a comb attachment as it allows my uncoordinated self to quickly move through my entire head without having to juggle a paddle brush in one hand the dryer in the other. Plus, I find the well spaced teeth on the comb less damaging than a brush of any kind. I also find the short blow-out time (thanks to the nifty comb attachment) allows for less heat exposure which of course means less potential for damage.

When I want less manipulation, I like to tension blow dry in which you simply stretch your hair with one hand and in a downward motion, blast your roots with warm (not hot) heat. It’s less manipulation than your typical blow out, and gently straightens your roots, which will result in less shrinkage and great twist-outs and braid-outs!

I hope this helps you achieve diva-licious hair with less stress and worry of damage!

Nikki “CurlyNikki” Walton is a successful psychotherapist and creator of one of the most credible online sources about natural haircare, maintenance, and decoding the psychological ties between black women and their hair. Visit her at her blog CurlyNikki or follow her on Twitter @CurlyNikki.