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How I Use Heat Safely On My Type 4 Hair

Avatar • Jul 5, 2014

Tori 4C natural hair straightened

 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.

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FourCGirl
FourCGirl
6 years ago

Giiiirl! I love your hair. I will not be using heat for the next couple of months but when I do, I will definitely use your tips. You are obviously doing it right!

Deedeemaha
Deedeemaha
6 years ago

I really appreciated this point, “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 would like to use heat soon, to perform a good trim. It’s been 3 years of dusting and I would like a hood trim.

Charm White
Charm White
6 years ago

Wonderful advice…

May
May
6 years ago

From my experience doing my sister’s 4c hair, the easiest way to get the best results is to put the hair in rollers with heat protectant in the morning and let it dry over the day before straightening (dryers work wonders too, if it’s a matter of getting it done fast, but it is better to avoid them). It gets really smooth (at least smother than a blow dryer ever has for me) and requires a lot less heat when straightening. It works with all hair types really, and it’s way better than blow drying imo. I’ll definitely try your… Read more »

Bobby J
Bobby J
6 years ago

I see Miss Tori is becoming a regular on here! lol.…This is 3rd article in the past 3 weeks. Will she be writing articles?

Ms. Vee
Ms. Vee
6 years ago

Very Cute!

Ambi
Ambi
6 years ago

good advice! I do everything but the heat protectant, bought several and used them once each probably and they both sucked to me. But i do heat of any kind rarely now and when I do blow dry I do tension method or rollers then sit under a hooded dry on low for about 30 mins only your hair is very pretty and “looks” healthy to me

zimzam
zimzam
6 years ago

Does the same apply to us low porosity girls? What about when you have enough protein.…?

Miss Mo
Miss Mo
6 years ago

Great tips thanks Tori. 🙂

LBell
LBell
6 years ago

I haven’t heat-straightened my hair in over 10 years but when I did I followed most of the advice listed here. - once or twice a year “just for the hell of it” (NEVER for special occasions because that’s the militant in me 😉 ) — deep-conditioned, used heat protectant — just enough heat to get it “straight-ish”, never relaxer-straight…basically it looked like your hair, Tori Also, I gave up the blow-dryer in favor of air-drying overnight with braids or rollers (as May suggests above). The goal was to use as few heat tools and as little heat as possible. I’ve never suffered anywhere… Read more »

Michell
Michell
6 years ago

I love how her hair still has it’s texture but is just blown out and styled.

MelyB
MelyB
6 years ago

Love your hair. Thank you for the tips ~ I don’t plan to straighten my hair until the Fall/Winter but when I do, I’ll definitely refer to your post.

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