by Tori (pictured above)
Not all naturals choose to use heat on their hair. However, for those that do, heat damage is the most dreaded fear. No one wants to enjoy their stretched hair, only to realize afterwards that they’ve caused permanent heat damage. Here are my techniques I’ve applied to safely use heat on my type 4 hair:
Use heat in moderation
If you are using heat on your hair every day or every week for months, then expect that there will be damage done, regardless of your texture. I can’t specifically say how often someone should apply heat to their hair. However, I personally have found that limiting the use of heat (flat iron and/or blow-drying) to less than 5 times per year helps to minimize the risk of heat damage for my hair texture/type.
Preparing your hair
Before I apply heat, I always prepare my hair by doing a special protein deep treatment, such as an egg and yogurt hair mask. Heat breaks down the protein your hair, so adding extra protein prior to applying heat will strengthen and prepare the hair for the heat to be applied. I also do protein treatments after wearing my hair stretched (with heat) to help replace the protein that was lost.
Use a heat protectant
Heat protectants are not always miracle products. Although, they cannot always absolutely prevent heat damage, they should still be used when applying heat to the hair to reduce your risk of heat damage. I personally prefer heat protectants that come in the form of a serum because they coat the hair, creating a film/barrier for heat protection.
Tension method blow-drying
Blow dryer comb attachments can cause excess breakage, so when blow-drying I often use the tension method instead. This is simply holding the section of hair taut while blow-drying from root to tip. I have found that the tension method still provides an effective blow out without the excessive stress on the hair from using the comb attachment.
Lowest possible temperature
Type 4 hair requires more heat to achieve a straighter look. However, remember that the higher the temperature, the more you are ‘frying’ your hair. Choose the lowest possible temperature setting, which will achieve the results you are looking for, to minimize heat damage. The temperature settings vary based on the tools being used, but I generally try to keep my temperature setting less than 400°F.
Do you use heat on your hair? How often do you apply heat? Have any of these tips worked for you?
About Tori: I’m Tori, a Jamaican-born natural currently living in Texas. I was reunited with my natural texture in January 2012 when I big chopped, after transitioning for a year and a half. I am still learning about my natural hair, and hope to share the knowledge and experiences I gain as I continue on my natural hair journey. You can find me on Instagram @bonafidestyle.