Heat Training or Heat Damage?

This will be a quick hair post, because I know my blog sisters will be posting shortly about their experiences at the Atlanta Hair Show.  Nonetheless,  I’ve recently become concerned about heat damage.  My natural hair texture is about 3b- soft, thick, curly, and spirally.  I’ve sported this natural texture for most of my life except for about three years from 6th through 9th grade when I let social pressure push me to relax my hair.  I grew out my perm in high school through a process that involved conditioning, hard pressing and cutting at least two inches every two weeks.  Since then, I’ve been determined to keep my hair straight (85% of the time) without the perm.  This has involved years of pressing, which transitioned to years of flat ironing, and now I just blow dry and curl.  In modern terms, I’ve successfully heat trained my hair.  Heat training, also known as ‘heat damage’, occurs when your hair’s natural curl structure has been altered as a result of  prolonged exposure to heat.  Hair is often straighter even in its natural state.  Here’s a snap shot of what my curls look like now after washing and setting over night. 

Overall, I am happy with the texture and manageability of my hair in its current state.  However, I have noticed that my curls are getting looser and looser and my hair is becoming finer and finer.  I fear that I may cause irreversible damage to my curl pattern and/or potential hair breakage if I continue with my current routine.  I’ve searched the web for resources about this and have found some helpful advice and tips.  I’ve listed what I’ve found below for anyone else who has some of the same concerns.

  • Know your hair’s limits.  Some hair textures are better at handling heat over time.  If you start to notice damage, breaking, or hair thinning, give you hair a break from heat.  Most experts recommend at least two months without heat.
  • Don’t be afraid to cut when necessary.  The only way to get rid of really bad heat damage is to cut off the damaged parts.  If necessary, have a professional do a dry cut (cut you hair in its dry curly state) to get rid of the damaged portions of your hair.
  • Take care of your hair before and after straightening.  Give your hair a break from straightening between washes.  Wear your hair curly for a day to a week before straightening it.  You can also co-wash your hair with a conditioner that restores natural hair for a few days before getting your hair straightened.  I like L’oreal Natures Therapy Mega Strength Fortifying Treatment.
  • Try a protein treatment.  Protein treatments can help restore health to hair by strengthening your protein structure, but there is no guarantee that it will help restore your natural curl.  It gives hair a boost and promotes thickness. Use an over the counter protein treatment twice a month if you are concerned about heat damage.

Good luck protecting your hair from the heat!  Please share any other tips you may have, as well!


The Classic Diva