I got my hair straightened professionally about three months ago and I must say, I loved the results. O the joy of being able to run my fingers through my hair and actually feel the wind on my scalp!But straightening, blow drying or using any kind of heat on natural hair comes with the potential for heat damage. What at all is heat damage?
It happens when hair is exposed to prolonged heat styling. We must learn to recognize the signs of heat damage and know what to do about it.
When hair is damaged by heat, it looses its curl pattern. That’s when you start to see straight pieces in your strands. Hair gets dry, frizzy, and looses its elasticity which ultimately leads to splitting and breakage. I didn’t have any heat damage after straightening because I followed these steps below.
Know your hair
Knowing your hair is the first and most important step in your journey to avoid heat damage. Thin hair is more susceptible to heat damage because it’s low in density and has fine strands, so it burns or breaks easily. On the other hand, thick hair has high density and thicker strands but it doesn’t mean thick hair can’t have heat damage, it just has an advantage.
Deep condition and moisturize
We should be deep conditioning and moisturizing our hair regularly anyways but, if you will be straightening, blow-drying or using any kind of heat, it should be done more frequently leading up to that day. So you will want to prepare your hair for your heat styling by moisturizing (with a daily moisturizer) and strengthening it (with a deep conditioner). I use a protein-based deep conditioner because protein or keratin is what hair is mainly made of so, adding more protein can strengthen your strands and withstand the heat that will be applied to it. Another economical way to deep condition is to add an oil (olive, coconut, grape-seed, jojoba, etc) to your favorite conditioner and apply it as a deep conditioner.
**Do not use heat on damaged hair! You’ll only be doing more harm to your hair. Give it time to repair and deep condition regularly before using heat.**
Use the right temperature
Normally, hair starts to burn at 450 degree Fahrenheit or 232 degree Celsius, and less if used on thin or damaged hair. Temperatures at 450 or more burns and damages hair so regulating temperature of styling tools can help prevent heat damage.
Always use a heat protectant
A heat protectant does exactly what it says, it protects hair from heat. They are mostly liquid and made of silicone. When applied to hair, it coats hair strands making them heat-resistant. It should be applied to hair before using heat, not after (you will be defeating the purpose of a heat protectant). It prevents moisture loss from heat and lubricates your hair, making it feel smoother.
***Another tip, natural Shea butter can be used as a heat protectant, it is almost as good as the store-bought heat protectants.***
Limit the frequency of heat use
Okay let’s get real here, we all will straighten our natural hair more if heat damage never existed. Right? But it’s unfortunate it does exist, so limiting the amount of heat we apply on our hair will help prevent heat damage. It’s that simple.
Those are the five steps I took to avoid heat damage. Have you had any experience with heat damage? What did you do about it?