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3 Types of Naturals Who Should Avoid Heat at All Costs

Avatar • Sep 13, 2014

heat-styling-black-woman-hair-salon

Do you know that girl who can comb her hair aggressively with a fine tooth comb, bleach it before placing her flat iron at the highest temperature and yet still have a beautiful full head of hair on her head? Hair is very specific to each individual and what works for one person can be a poison chalice for another.

Every single time you apply heat, your hair becomes damaged. This also applies when you assume the best precautions (i.e conditioning hair first so it can be softer, using an appropriate heat protectant, using the least amount of heat with the fewest passes possible and not using heat repeatedly in a short period).

The type of damage hair has to sustain as a direct result of heat includes:

- loss of water from the hair shaft
— restructuring of the protein within the cortex
— damage and loss of amino acids (mainly tryptophan) within the cortex (J Cosmet Sci, pp15-27, 2011)
— possible surface damage to the hair cuticle (J Cosmet Sci, pp13-27, 2004)

The first two on the list are generally reversible once the heat is removed and hair is washed. However, the second two are permanent imprints. In order for hair to be heat-treated and remain on your head for years after, it must be able to withstand this damage.

There are those of us, who know without doubt, heat is not for us. This is usually characterized by experience with breakage during or immediately after even the tamest heat session. Which naturals need to be weary of heat? Here are the three key indicators

1. Fine individual strands.
Let me go on the record and say that hair in general is not inherently weak. A single strand of my own very fine hair has carried around 80 times its own weight! The issue with fine hair is that it simply breaks easily when stressed (Arch Derm Res pp 499–505, 2007). The process of heat straightening will require stretching and combing in addition to the actual effects of heat on the hair strand. This all creates a storm for fine hair which is less likely to withstand the stress. The finer your hair, the more cautious you should be with heat especially if you fall into the next category too.

2. Kinky hair
Kinks and curls are two different things. Kinks in hair represent a point where hair is stressed and much like fine hair, this also means that kinky hair is more susceptible to breaking. If you have ever seen those tiny wisps of hair (little c‑shaped coils) on your clothes or floor when combing, it is likely that you have kinky hair and should be wary of heat. If you have very kinky hair but have never seen those wisps, then it is likely that you have thick individual strands and you may be ok with heat.

flaw

 

hair_kink

An actual kink in natural hair

 

3. Bleached and Permanent Hair Colour (not henna)
The process of bleaching or giving hair permanent colour causes significant damage to the hair cuticle and cortex. While some can still straighten their color-treated hair without ill effects, if you happen to also have fine individual strands and kinky hair in addition to the bleach/colour, then you should be very careful when applying heat to the mix.

Ladies, do you fall into any of these 3 categories? What is your stance on heat?

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About The Natural Haven

Scientist on a hairy mission!

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Mimi
Mimi
6 years ago

This is so true. I had realized during my relaxed days that I had kinks in my hair because of how thin certain points in between my strands were when I would analyse them for split ends. My strands are pretty thick so I was pretty obvious.

mtlnaturalista
mtlnaturalista
6 years ago

I have fine strands, a small head but densely packed. I’ve recently decided that blow outs every two weeks are what’s best for me. Waist length hair that shrinks to your collar bone is no joke. The blow outs make it easier for me to manage so I can stop dreaming about relaxers lol

Carlee
Carlee
6 years ago
Reply to  mtlnaturalista

I agree with this. I am fine, kinky hair, that is dense, but I still blowout my hair *every morning*. My hair is still in great condition.

Dananana
Dananana
6 years ago
Reply to  Carlee

Daily??? That’s a lot of manipulation. Some reasons why daily blowouts may work for you: 1. Porosity 2. Location 3. Temperature 4. Brand of blow dryer 5. Length of time blowouts incorporated If you’re a well moisturized low porosity girl, it’s going to be harder for moisture to leave your hair, even when you blow dry your hair daily. Someone with high porosity and/or ineffectively moisturized hair definitely would not fair as well with daily blowouts. Additionally, if you live somewhere warmer and more humid (like Florida), your blow dried hair doesn’t have to struggle for moisture like it would if you… Read more »

Carlee
Carlee
6 years ago
Reply to  Dananana

I’ve been doing daily blowing drying for a year now. I have high porosity, 4c hair. My strands are fine but my hair is dense. This works for me because 1) I have 85% shrinkage. 2) I workout daily. 3)I have naturally dry hair that needs to be drenched with water every day. The daily workouts alone make it so I need to rinse sweat from my hair daily. I practice yoga, and so I’m inverted for about 60% of the practice. My hair gets sweaty. Also, I have naturally dry, high porosity hair. Thus, no matter how many butters, oils,… Read more »

Dananana
Dananana
6 years ago
Reply to  Carlee

So it’s as I thought: your hair is well moisturized and in a constant state of humidity. And you’re a unicorn lol. But seriously though, a warm (>75 F) summer’s day can and does damage some people’s hair. I’m one of them. Wind splits my hair too, and I get mechanical damage from blowdrying before I get heat damage, even if I DC before, keep it on low, and use a heat protectant. Like you, my fine, high porosity hair shrinks more than 85%. I’ve tried wetting my hair every day, and it doesn’t work well for me past 9… Read more »

Carlee
Carlee
6 years ago
Reply to  Carlee

I definitely agree that everyone is different. One thing that really helps me is to blow dry on low and keep the dryer far from my hair. I also let my hair air dry most of the way so I only have to blow dry for a few seconds. Imagine a lazy tension method. Not a super precise, straight-looking blowout. I used to be anti-heat too, but I just can’t put 40 twists in my hair a night. I tried curlformers with great results, but it is extremely time consuming if you count drying time (about 5 hrs). With blow… Read more »

Dangerously Dark
Dangerously Dark
6 years ago
Reply to  Dananana

I’m just curious why Dananana is going so hard at Carlee? At the end of the article, the author asked ladies to ask for their opinions about using heat. Carlee simply stated what works for her. Whether or not anyone agrees with her using heat on a daily basis is neither her nor there. If HER hair is doing fine, then that’s HER business. Her description never said “well I do it so everyone else can/should do it too”. Each natural’s hair takes to different products, techniques, methods (we all know that). While I appreciate Dananana for being informative of… Read more »

Dananana
Dananana
6 years ago

My sole intent was to figure out under which conditions Carlee was blow drying her hair daily. You’re right, I could have done that with a lot more tact. My bad. I just get heated when people leave out important details of their regimens that could cause newbies to severely damage their hair…because I used to be one of those newbies that didn’t do enough research. What Carlee and others do to their hair is indeed their business, but I feel like we should all make an effort to have some level of transparency with each other. Otherwise, how do… Read more »

Dee
Dee
6 years ago

Interesting article. Just wanted to say I really appreciate the citing and use of journal sources!

A Simple Thing
6 years ago

It’s like having fine and kinky hair is the universe’s way of saying “Everyone’s hair is versatile — except yours.”
It’s like Oprah giving everyone a car, except you.
*Sulky face*

sowhatwhocares
sowhatwhocares
6 years ago
Reply to  A Simple Thing

this needs a thumbs up!

Olowo
Olowo
6 years ago
Reply to  A Simple Thing

Fine,kinky and (at least) 70% shrinkage.It’s like your invite getting lost 🙁

Adia
Adia
6 years ago

My hair strands are fine and kinky… Heat always causes major damage but sometimes I just want straight hair!

herlucidsky
herlucidsky
6 years ago

This is so very true especially for those looking to grow out their hair has as long and healthy as possible. Great article as usual JC.

Amor
Amor
6 years ago

*raises hand* I’m number 3. I’m usually too lazy to use heat anyway lol. I don’t want my hair to be like “Um, what happened and why are we on the floor?”

Valerie
Valerie
6 years ago

Why can’t we like (or dislike) comments anymore?

Edens Sahara
Edens Sahara
6 years ago
Reply to  Valerie

YES… that’s what I would like know. It wasn’t doing any harm. It’s good to know what other sistas agree/disagree with.

Carlee
Carlee
6 years ago
Reply to  Valerie

Seriously.

Bumper1959
Bumper1959
6 years ago
Reply to  Valerie

I, along with several commenters, have asked that question but have had no reply. It would be nice if an explanation could be put up on the site. The removal of the *thumbs up/down* makes for more work typing out responses when you could just agree with what someone has already written!

naturally Tee
naturally Tee
6 years ago

I think naturals with high porosity hair should avoid heat at all cost as well just my opinion

Darlyn
Darlyn
6 years ago

I highly agree with number three.

AnaDion
AnaDion
6 years ago

My hair is fine and home box-bleached in the front. I also do a tension blow out every 2 or so weeks, and that practice has really helped me maintain healthy hair growth. It keeps it mostly tangle-free, which keeps me from descending into violent detangling sessions on wash days. It makes it easier to loosely bun my hair, thus keeping it off my clothing and at least mildly protected from the elements. Also, it makes split ends and SSKs easier to see when I do get them. So I see no reason to “avoid at all costs”. As a… Read more »

Michelle
Michelle
6 years ago

I love to color my hair, so I rarely blow dry or flat iron my hair. Besides, haircolor gives more dimension to my individual hair strands, something that I wouldn’t be able to achieve with straight, flat hair!

Charise
Charise
6 years ago

Really enjoyed the article, the dialogue between Dananana and Carlee was a great addition. Helpful overall!

mscf
6 years ago

2 of 3 of these apply to me, but I have definitely noticed the 2 times I’ve heat straightened I suffered damage, especially ends.

But on another note: that is the best diagram-probably only diagram-I’ve EVER seen to explain the structure of kinky hair and it’s behavior. SO BIG THANKS FOR THAT!

http://MySoCalledFashion.com

Cass
Cass
6 years ago

Geez.…We fine and kinkies can’t do ANYTHING with our hair.

Perms eat up our hair, heat kills our hair, detangling rips out our hair, touching it often causes mechanical damage to our hair..
what CAN we do?? Someone needs to come up with a solution. There’s GOT to be something! I know I’m not the only one beyond frustrated with my hair.

androu
androu
5 years ago
Reply to  Cass

I know this is an old post, but I just wanted to say I share your frustration. I have very fine, 4a hair. Bantu knot-outs, twist-outs, braid outs? Forget it. My hair’s so fine, those styles always look scalpy. My hair’s super easy to detangle, so wash-n-go’s are fine, but my shrinkage makes it seem like I have a TWA. I *always* have to incorporate Marley hair into my styles for fullness and volume, and sometimes I get so tired of that. Last weekend I gave my hair a blow-out–first time in a year. I loved the fullness and length achieved,… Read more »

Gifty
Gifty
5 years ago
Reply to  Cass

You need not bother with every said article about our kinky hair.do whatever you so please to it.its your hair.not anybodys.bleach it or perm it or straighten it.my dear ‚do what you want.

carolyn
carolyn
6 years ago

What are the various hair types? How can I tell which one I have? I was told I have medium ? I have been natural now over 2.5 years. I love braids. Mostly I will wash/condition/moisturize and plat. Then wear wigs. I was
want to go back to a light perm, if that is such a thing. If I decide to, what type of light or gentle perm will be good? Thanks

Delia
Delia
6 years ago

I was learning about heat recently and hadn’t noticed whether I had kinky or curly hair. It’s actually a mix of 3c/4a so it’s kinky coily. Some sections straighten right out with no issue and good heat barrier and others take a few passes. I think if you don’t detangle very often you will see a lot of c‑shaped coils on the floor, but then I figure shedding isn’t necessarily a deal breaker for heat. I haven’t used heat on my hair in 8 months but I’m not faint a blown-out Fro. I love them, I just say be careful… Read more »

Delia
Delia
6 years ago
Reply to  Delia

*not against a

Tina
Tina
6 years ago

I don’t think my hair is fine but it is definitely kinky! I wonder if that makes your hair more susceptible to single strand knots too because I get those really often.…but yeah this is a good article. However.…sometimes I just want straight hair too! I like the feel, swing and look of it every now and then : ) But I’ve been good…heatless for the last 6 months! And I do admit it has done great things for my curls and length retention. Still, I can’t wait till I work up the nerve( and energy ) to straighten it… Read more »

JackieT
JackieT
6 years ago

My hair hates heat. I’ve come to terms with it. I can stretch mine with perm rod settings. Denial cost me too much.

Anna
Anna
5 years ago

All three apply to me. My hair isn’t the healthiest but I have no problems with heat. I don’t straighten my hair often, and when I do, I see no difference in the number of split ends and dryness than if I had let it air dry curly. The key to keeping your hair healthy if you fall into these categories is not to avoid heat completely but to be cautious when using heat.

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