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Heat Damage: How to Prevent & Repair It

Heat Damage: How to Prevent & Repair It

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Photo Credit: IG @ladashe_divine Hair Color: Kiss Express Color – Crimson

Here are 6 Ways You Can Protect Your Natural Hair From Heat Damage.  

Direct heat from blow dryers and flat irons can cause hair breaking damage and a loss of natural curl pattern.

But with these tips you can assess and protect the health of your natural hair to avoid heat damage.

I recently got a blowout or silk press, whatever you like to call it. I straighten my hair by first, blow drying then flat ironed it.

It was gorgeous!!!

You can see it here along with Tips to Keep Your Natural Hair Straight Longer.  I enjoy the versatility of natural hair and you should, too.

But I was a little disappointed in the myths and misconceptions still existing today about heat straightening natural hair.

I wanted to take the time to address them here: 7 Myths About Heat and Heat Damage. You don’t have to be afraid of heat damage if you following these tips below.

Understand How Much Heat is Too Much

Hair burns or begins to denature at 450F.  The temperature is less for fine hair or hair that is weak and damaged. If you’re experimenting with heat for the first time, use medium to low heat settings.

And invest in a professional blow-dry like this one from Chi. 

Use flat or curling irons with accurate temperature gauges like CHI Air Expert Classic Tourmaline Ceramic Flat Iron.

Know Your Natural Hair

Everyone’s hair is different.  It’s for this reason that you must know your hair and its heat tolerance.  Damaged hair is more susceptible to heat damage.

Doing a hair assessment will help you determine whether or not you should introduce heat to your regimen. Identify for your hair’s condition by examining softness, hair texture (finer hair textures can be more easily damaged by heat) and elasticity (hair stretches without breaking easily).

Prepare Your Hair

Prepare your hair for heat styling by moisturizing & deep conditioning.  Moisturizing and deep conditioning will strengthen your natural hair. This also ensures that the hair cuticle is closed and coated for a smooth look.  Before a heat treatment I deep condition with a product that builds the natural proteins of my hair like Hair Mayonnaise.  

I also like to use coconut oil that prevents damage in 5 different ways.

Use Heat Protectant

This is the only time that I recommend a silicone-based product.  Heat protectant creates a barrier between your hair and heat exposure.  Silicones coat the hair and prevent moisture for reaching the hair shaft.  This prevents reversion but on the flip side it keeps moisturizers from absorbing your hair so moisturize with a light moisturizer before using a heat protectant.

Limit Heat Exposure

Anything in excess is detrimental and heat is no exception.  I wouldn’t recommend using direct heat on your natural hair any more than once a week.  Less if your hair is easily damaged.  Start off with a small amount of heat to see how your hair reacts or only use medium to low heat when styling.

Let a Professional Do It

Ok. This is a tough one because I know that many have suffered heat damage at the hands of a professional stylist.  It’s sad but it happens. I recommend following the steps above in addition to getting a referral for an experienced stylist.

I got a referral from a friend of mine who also has natural hair. I noticed that her stylist blow-dried and flat iron her hair without any damage on a few of occasions.  Even though I’ve seen her work, I didn’t completely leave it in her hands. I still deep conditioned prior to my appointment and ask that she use a heat protectant like Chi Silk Infusion.

How to Repair Heat Damage

Keratin and Protein Treatments

When the hair has been compromised and is no longer as curly as it once appeared, a depletion of protein and keratin is usually the culprit. This process breaks down the natural curl pattern, leaving the hair fragile and straight. Though the curl pattern may never return to normal, you can begin restoring the hair’s health by doing by-weekly protein and/or keratin treatments.

My favorite Protein and Keratin Products right now are Agadir Argan Oil Moisture Masque with Keratin Protein , Redken Extreme Strength Builder Plus, JOICO K Pak Shampoo and Intense Hydrator  (this line also has a leave in reconstructor), and Matrix Biolage Advanced Keratindose Shampoo.

To be sure that the conditioners penetrate through to cuticle and to the middle of the shaft, you will want to sit under the dryer. This will also plump and strengthen the strands in the areas of compromise.

Get Frequent Trims

When the hair has been altered from its natural state, whether through heat or chemical, it will become more likely to split, due to nutrients depletion.

Going without trimming will cause hair to appear stunted – as if it isn’t growing, and the hair will continue to split up the shaft.

It is suggested that, if hair has been damaged, that you get a trim every 8 weeks or so.

If you keep up with trimming, you will less likely notice breakage. Trims are determined case by case, depending on the severity of damage.

Protective Styling

Remember, recovering from heat damage and/or chemical color damage is like transitioning all over again. You must avoid as much tension as possible on the strands considering the integrity has already been compromised. Also, indulge in a heat free challenge for approximately a year in order to grow hair out without further damage.

Opt for flat twisted updos or “Halo Twists”, and avoid tight braiding as much as possible, as this can sometimes add too much tension causing breakage.

While wearing styles, spray with leave in conditioners such as Aphogee ProVitamin Leave In Conditioner, Roux 233 Treatment and Shine  or Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Leave In Conditioner .

Prior to protective styling, perform a protein treatment in order to combat breakage at the line of demarcation.

At the end of the day, nobody desires to have their curls compromised and weakened. But, when it occurs, it is important to notice the change and to begin repair maintenance quickly.

As stated before, curls may not snap back to how they were prior to damage, but by following these steps, you will more than likely be able to transition longer without having to big chop (if that is your decision).

Every situation is different, and because of this truth, I highly suggest seeking a trained professional in your area in order to have hair properly assessed.

Photo Credit: IG @ladashe_divine Hair Color: Kiss Express Color – Crimson Here are 6 Ways You Can Protect Your Natural Hair From Heat Damage.   Direct heat from blow dryers and flat irons can cause hair breaking damage and a loss of natural curl pattern. But with these tips you can assess and protect the […]

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