A recurring theme in the questions I receive from my subscribers is how to fix heat damage. The story usually goes like this: an excited natural decides to spend a day pressing her hair so she can see what 2, 3, or 4+ years of hair growth looks like. The process usually goes well and her hair, especially if it’s done by a pro, looks amazingly sleek and shiny. After a few days or a few short weeks, she anticipates the moment when she’ll see her coils again. On wash day, she drenches her hair with water, but instead of seeing her bouncy, tight coils, the water seems to lose its magic and her hair reverts to an elongated mess; sometimes with ends so straight. Her hair looks nothing like it did before the press.
Most naturals seeking to change up their look prefer the use of heat since it’s not permanent, and it doesn’t involve the use of any caustic chemicals. Even though the use of heat is not new for many women with highly textured hair, the understanding of best hair practices is still respectively new in many parts of the world.
One of the biggest misconceptions about heat is that it simply doesn’t damage like chemical products do, but that’s not really true, The problem with heat is that no matter how careful we are with its use, it will produce some damage to our strands and depending on the texture (whether strands are fine or course) of one’s strands, that damage can range from mild to severe.
When naturals press their hair, they should anticipate some type of damage, but there are ways to mitigate this in order to keep the hair’s integrity. Here are my no fail tips to keep heat damage at bay and restore already damaged hair:
1. You don’t understand your hair’s texture.
Many of us have misconstrued the kinks in our strands or the amount of hair on are heads to mean that we have coarse hair, but just because your hair is kinky or you have a lot of hair on your head, doesn’t mean have coarse hair. The description “coarse” when discussing texture really means that one’s strands are typically wider in diameter when compared to the diameter of other’s strands. Coarse hair texture types (hair that has a wider diameter than most) will tend to experience less visible effects of heat damage just because it naturally contains more cuticle layers than fine or medium hair textures. Fine hair naturals should take great precaution with heat, since a high setting can easily permanently straighten your strands.
When you understand your hair’s texture (coarse, medium, fine), you are better able to judge how much heat your hair can actually take. Comparing with a simple piece of thread can help you gauge whether your strands are coarse. If your strands are comparatively close to the thickness of the thread, you could in fact have coarse hair.
2. You use a blow dryer to stretch your hair.
The heat from a blow dryer is just as harsh as the heat from a flat iron and more often than not, if your hair hasn’t been properly moisturized before hand, you risk cracking your hair’s cuticles through the harsh heat of the blow dryer.
In my opinion, it’s really hard to take the advice of skipping the blow dry session and opting to stretch your hair via heat free methods mostly because it will generally make the whole process of heat straightening your hair that much longer. However, if you absolutely can not stand to see your hair’s progress be stalled due to an unfortunate heat damage accident, I strongly suggest skipping the blow dry session before your flat iron.
3. You don’t take deep conditioning seriously.
Natural remedies consisting of amazing oils can help revive our hair and make it supple. However, in the case of heat damage, I strongly suggest employing the use of reconstructing products. Such products have been created to bring healing to your hair through employing the benefits of natural and lab-created ingredients. Don’t skip out on deep conditioning your hair before and after heat treatments. Many have experienced their curls bounce back from heat damage through the consistent use of such products. I personally have seen great results through the consistent use of Aphogee’s 2 Minute Reconstructor when I caused damage to my hair in the past. Be diligent with your deep conditioning and your hair will surely thank you for it.
4. You don’t employ super protective styles.
There are various protective styles out there, but “super protective styles” are styles that keep all your hair and your ends tucked away completely. You hair has a greater chance of bouncing back from heat damage if you baby it and keep it from situations where it can dry out easily. Styles that keep your hair “wrapped up” ensure your hair doesn’t continue to experience the dryness it did when it was in heat style.
5. You’re trusting someone else with your hair care.
You can bet your bottom dollar that more than 50% of the ladies that contact me about heat damage generally leave the heat styling of their hair to someone else. Its not to say that trusting another person with your hair is a bad thing, but you have to take the responsibility to learn your hair needs, likes and dislikes so that you can at least communicate those things with the person who you’ve called on to heat style your hair. Your hair’s health is ultimately in your hands so it’s important to be vigilant about informing those who style it for you or take matters into your own hands by styling your hair yourself.
Davis-Sivasothy, Audrey. Hair Care Rehab: The Ultimate Hair Repair and Reconditioning Manual. Texas. Saja Publishing Company, 2012. Text.
Gamez-Garcia, Manuel; “The Cracking Of Human Hair Cuticles By Cyclical Thermal Stresses” J. Cosmet. Sci 49, (1998): 141–153.
Have you identified bad habits that have contributed to your heat damage in the past?