Heat is a tool that we’ve been taught to manipulate our kinks and coils with but there is not enough talk about how to prevent heat damage on natural hair. With that being said, I genuinely believe that there is a lack of information and education in the natural hair community when it comes to hair health and care.
Growing up we were taught that hot combing and processing our hair until it was severely fried and “straight” was the epitome of tame hair. I can honestly remember having a relaxer as early as 6 years old. That was the perception of acceptable, natural hair that we saw in our community.
Years later, the natural hair wave is a on the rise and we’re finally learning to love our hair and give it the care and attention it deserved all along. Although natural hair appears to be strong and resilient on the surface, it is very easily susceptible to damage and breakage. I enjoy my fair share of straight hair days and not spending hours on end waiting for my freshly washed hair to air dry because truthfully, nobody has time for that!
So if you’re going to reach for the blow dryer and other heat tools, ensure you hair is protected from the long terms effects. Unfortunately heat damage cannot be reversed once it has occured but there are some steps you can take to minimize the effects of heat on your curls to prevent future heat damage.
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Using Heat Protectant is a Must
If there is one thing you take from this post, it’s this one. You need to use a heat protectant any time that you’re applying heat to your hair, even if you’re blow drying. The silicones in heat protectants act as a barrier between your hair and the heat (think of sunscreen protecting your skin from sun damage). This allows the hair to heat up gradually rather than suddenly and all at once, aiding in preventing the hair from burning.
I like to use a water based protectant when I’m working on wet hair and a heat protecting serum to keep my hair from reverting back to curls after I have prepped it for flat ironing using my blow dryer. My two favourites are Tresemme Heat Tamer Spray and the Organic Root Stimulator Heat Protection Hair Serum. On days where I’m straightening my hair, I’ll use both products.
Balancing Moisture and Protein
A good balance of moisture and protein will allow for optimal hair strand health. Deep conditioning your hair regularly will allow for the moisture stripped from your hair during heat application to be restored. Deep conditioners contain humectants and will allow for moisture to be drawn back into the hair. When your hair is adequately moisturized using quality products, it prevents it from drawing moisture from the environment.
Protein treatments are used to repair damaged strands and restore elasticity. Finding a good balance is key as protein overload can lead to brittle, straw-like strands with excess breakage and shedding. Similarly, over hydrating the hair can leave your hair feeling limp and mushy.
I have found that deep conditioning once a week and using a protein treatment once a month works well for my hair by providing it with the right amount or strength and moisture to endure heat and prevent damage. My current favourite deep conditioner and protein, both from SheaMoisture, are the Intensive Hydration Hair Masque and the Hydrate + Repair Protein Power Treatment.
Trim Your Dead Ends
Once you’ve discovered heat damaged ends, it’s usually best to get rid of them. Since this type of damage cannot be reversed, holding onto these weak ends will likely damage the remaining, healthy hair on your head. For example, if the damaged ends being to split and those ends are not cut, the split works its was up the hair strand. Like the saying goes, “Split ends are like fake friends. Cut them off!” Healthy hair will grow much faster and stronger than weak, damaged hair.
If you’re comfortable enough to cut your split ends on your own, make sure you’re using sharp hair sheers to do so to ensure that you’re not doing more damage than good.
What are some steps that you’re taking to ensure that your curls revert back after using heat?