In the beginning of my hair journey, my hair was extremely damaged. The heat from my flat irons, blow-dryers, and pressing combs left my hair lifeless, thin, and full of split ends. Instead of cutting my hair off and starting over, I developed a sound routine and began nursing my hair back to health.
Heat damage also affect your curl pattern as well, leaving your hair straight in some portions mimicking relaxed hair. Here are are a few tips and tricks to help you prevent and recover from heat damage:
>> I know this is a very lengthy read, so a PDF is available by clicking on this link.
First let's start off with preventing heat damage:
Invest in the proper tools:
Golden Supreme Heat Tester: One of the best purchases I have made to date, this handy tool allows me to check the temperature of the pressing comb, which ensures that it is at the proper temperature each time I pass the pressing comb through my hair.
For those that use the napkin method [if the comb tinges a napkin with a yellow tint, it is too hot] keep this in mind: Even though your pressing comb isn't hot enough to tinge your napkin, it may still be too hot for your hair type. This is why investing in a heat tester is ideal. Because I have very thick coarse hair, I use the medium high temp rating on my heat tester. If you have finer hair, you will need to use a lower setting. Experiment with your heat tester to see which setting yields the best results.
Towel Dry Hair Thoroughly Prior to Air Drying: Blow drying your hair while soaking wet stretches the hair which can lead to loss of elasticity as well as brittleness. Use a microfiber towel to lightly squeeze out the excess water [don't rub the towel on your head, as it can cause splits and breakage] prior to blow drying.
Exercise the 6-10 Inch Rule: When blow-drying your hair, it's best to hold the dryer 6-10 inches away from your scalp/hair to prevent excess drying. It's also very important to keep the blow dryer moving so that your hair dries evenly and most importantly retains moisture.
Blow-dry your hair until is 75% percent dry, then allow the hair to air dry naturally or with the assistance of a hooded dryer. Utilizing this method also helps the hair retain additional moisture.
Regular Protein Treatments: If you relax, or use heat regularly it is especially important for you to implement protein treatments at regular intervals. Protein treatments are designed to fortify the hair preventing breakage, as well as correct any issues with elasticity. This is key as chemical and thermal services [pressing, flat ironing] can weaken the structure of your hair causing excessive breakage and shedding. Some of my favorite protein treatments are: Sebastian 2+1 and Dudley's Hair Rebuilder [awesome]. [once every six weeks is recommended]
Watch Porosity Levels: Hair that is overly porous absorbs more heat [and chemicals] versus hair that is less porous and occurs as a result of cuticle damage. This means that your are more likely to experience heat damage if you don't maintain the correct porosity levels. You can use products like Porosity Control, Cellophane's, and even Henna Treatments, as they all temporarily fill in the gaps along the hair shaft which restores normal porosity levels. [once every six weeks]
Use A Heat Protectant: Heat protectants are designed to absorb heat [which helps protect the hair], and help prevent the drying damaging effects of thermal styling devices. These products help seal the cuticles which eases combing and protects the hair shaft, as well as eliminates static charge. Spray this on towel dried freshly conditioned hair prior to blow-drying. I recommend Brilliant Damage Control by Aveda, it is absolutely excellent.
Recovering From Heat Damage:
Find A Happy Medium
If you have heat damage, chances are you have used excessive heat or thermal devices improperly. The key to recover from this set back is to minimize your use of heat for about 3-6 months so that you can actually see the extent of the damage. Over time, you may notice that you gain some of your curl pattern back as a result of improved elasticity and the overall health of your hair. This does not mean that you will not have to cut any hair, this just means that you need time to fully assess how much hair needs to go.
To put this in perspective, upon starting my hair care journey, I had about 8-10 inches of "bone straight" hair. After about 6-8 months, I noticed more of a curl pattern and only about 2-3 inches of "straight" hair versus the 8-10 I started off with. You may recall back in July I trimmed my hair; I cut about 2.5 inches all over which was the last of the heat damaged ends. In a lot of my recent pictures, I have more defined curls vs the older pictures I posted when I first started the site. This is partly attributed to finding better products as well as devising a regimen that allows me to have hair that is properly hydrated, nourished, and fortified [with protein treatments].
As the health of your hair improves, you will start to notice a difference in your curl pattern. This is why certain shampoo's and conditioners are able to enhance your curl pattern, as they are formulated with products to help impart moisture, and temporarily correct issues with elasticity. It is very important that you focus on the elasticity of your hair when caring for it, as this plays a major role in your hair's ability to stretch and revert back to it's natural state.
What To Do If You Have Heat Damage?
- Completely cut out your use of heat for at least 3-6 months if possible [highly recommended]
- Deep condition hair once weekly [20-30 minutes] with heat to replenish the moisture levels, repair damaged areas, and improve combability.
- Use a reconstructor [a conditioner formulated for damaged hair] once a month to fill in damaged areas along the hair shaft, improve elasticity, and bind areas of the hair shaft together [Dudley's Hair Rebuilder is amazing]
- If you must style your hair using heat during this recovery period, opt for air drying in lieu of blow drying, and always make sure to use a heat protectant
- After about 3-6 months, begin to take note of any changes in curl pattern. If there are areas that aren't reverting [this depends on the extent of the damage] you can decide at this time whether to cut the hair gradually, or wait another 3-6 months to note any reversion.
- When you make the transition back to using heat, try to limit your thermal styling sessions to twice a month with no touch ups in between. Also use the prevention methods listed in the beginning of this post.
Products Mentioned In This Post:
Sebastian 2+1 Treatment - I normally find this product in most professional beauty supply stores
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