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Curly Nikki

Is Heat Styling Worth It?

By January 27th, 202192 Comments

Tawanna writes:

Is Heat Styling Worth It?
This may be controversial, or at least it is in many forums. This is the topic of heat styling- is it worth it in the long run?

Some naturals use heat often, and some, only a few times a year for trims and length checks. One thing I notice is that at some point they usually indicate needing a hair cut or a patch of hair that will not revert back after years of heat use, whether used often or not.

I am curious about this topic because I have a family member who is recently natural, and another family member who has always been natural. The first loves her curls but tends to use heat as often as weekly or bi- weekly to cut down on the frizziness. (She will blow dry, and then twist.) The other, has been natural all her life, but always straightened. Now she wishes to explore wearing her curls, but they just seem to not curl right. They are kind of limp and lifeless in my opinion. I just wonder if it’s really worth it. I’ve toyed with the idea, but haven’t done so yet.

Weigh in divas!

92 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    I see that I'm a bit late in replying to this post. I've been natural for 23 months now. I've flat ironed my hair a total of 4 times in those 23 months. The first time my curls reverted with no problem but after the 2nd, I started seeing a looser curl pattern particularly around my edges, especially in the back. After the 3rd time, I ended up having to cut about 4 inches of hair off due to my hair looking extremely thin when I wore it in an afro. Unfortunately that didn't stop me from straightening it a 4th time for my college graduation! I have to say that since then I've learned my lesson. I now have to wait until my hair grows a certain length before cutting. I still have curls only they're looser in the back. To hide the damage, I've been wearing my hair in a curly 'fro using two strand twists and satin sponge rollers. I have a 4b/4c texture and was using a flat iron that does not have a temperature gauge and heated all the way up to 425 degrees! Silly ME!

  • Anonymous says:

    Assuming that your hair won't get its curls back after one or two times using a flat iron, I'd say it's not worth it. However, I think that as long as you take the proper precautions and straighten your hair very infrequently, it should be fine. Personally, I have a lot of heat damage and just decided to give up heat styling (for a time) to try to get my natural curls back. I have lots of curly hair but just like other women that have commented, I also have sections of hair that are limp, lifeless and remain straight b/c of weekly use of a flat iron over the years. So I'm taking a break from heat styling to regain healthy hair. If, when I do decide to go back for an occasional straight hairstyle I find that the health of my hair suffers significantly, I won't have a problem giving it up for good. As far as CurlyInTheA's question, I also did the hot comb and flat iron on the stove and my hair was badly damaged b/c or it. I'm so happy for the ceramic, heat controlled flat irons but it still needs to be used in moderation.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have crazy thick hair that tends to run on the fuzzy side. I use Shielo Antioxidant Leave In Portectant because you CAN physically see the hair being sealed. My hairdresser is on strict orders to let me know if my hair starts drying out (so I can stop with the iron). She says it's fine. And since she doesn't sell me the thermal protector, I believe her.

    Shielo hair leave in protector works great on my hair. You can clearly see the spray protecting your hair from the heat. My hair is really thin and my sisters hair is extremely thick and it works great on both our hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    IT IS SO NOT WORTH IT. I'm an 18 year old girl, I guess you could say I have…well had…3a curls, big beautiful red curls, and I destroyed them. I flat ironed my hair 2-3 times a week for MONTHS, and i didn't realize the damage until it was too late. I could smell the burn in my hair when I took my showers. I've been natural for almost 3 months now, and my curls have not reverted. I have stringy straight pieces all on my top layer, especially my 2 front pieces that used to be beautiful luscious curls. I've already cut a lot off. I really don't know what to do now, but I regret ever picking up and even touching a flat iron. Love yourself and love your curls. I'm doing everything I can to get mine back. You're beautiful curly girls 🙂

  • CurlyInTheA says:

    I just don't get all the things about heat damage. Is this a new phenomenon? I'm asking because, like most girls I knew growing up, we got our hair pressed with a hot comb on the stove or Marcel iron. No telling how hot it got, and we didn't use heat protectant –Bergamont grease all the way! Did our hair fall out then? Did our curls not go back? I don't think so, and so what's changed? I do think, excessive heat is damaging, yes. But every few months? What's the problem with that as long as it's not on naked hair? And yes, I know that every person's hair is individual. I guess my question is, we didn't have half the heat protectants we have now, nor did we have controlled heat settings and our hair, for the most part, was just fine. What's the difference now?

  • Nee Nee luv MD says:

    I am 14 and my this year my freshman year i destroyed my natural hair with flat iron. I got so upset that i chopped it. i had been growing it out for about 5 months then i flat ironed and it was damaged now i am depressed becuz all of that time spent growing it out was a waste

  • Anonymous says:

    yeah its worth it youu just have to VERY careful. the great thing about having natural hair is the versatility, u can have it straight one day and curly the next. All my life i had a healthy head of wavy hair and about every other week for years i would have it either blow dried or flat ironed. It took just that ONE time that i didn't pay attention to the heat setting and now some of my hair is straight, still very healthy, no more split ends than normal,but it looks relaxed. I read in another forum somewhere that heat cant permanently alter curl patterns and over time the curls will come back. Some of my texture does seem to be coming back now so hopefully the person was right and i wont have to wait years to have my hair back.

  • Anonymous says:

    NO its not worth it! I used to have luscious armpit length hair that got me nicknames baby beyonce and scary spice, but stupid me started modeling and to maintain 'camera ready' hair i went through flatirons blowdryers, fryers, crispers multiple x a day, not to mention the weekly relaxers i had to get so my hair wouldnt look 'ratty' (said my bookers). so alas now my hair is fine as thread, broken crown, limp wannabe curls and when straight its about the consistency of straw ; / oi the price of friggin 'beauty'…

  • Soleil says:

    it is worth it if you are willing to risk heat damage even if you are putting on heat protectant and straightening on what you think is not a high temp.

    otherwise, it is complete bunk and not worth it at all. i am in this camp.

    i am not going to straighten my hair, but will blow it out with medium to cool heat (so not straight, but stretched) about once every 3 or 4 months. i will use indirect heat like hooded dryers (that is not the problem unless you turn it up incredibly high). i do not know of anyone that ruined their curl pattern from wet sets. the problem is direct contact…which can cause heat bubbles and is pressing hundreds of degrees of heat onto your strands several times. that's crazy. and yes, i said crazy. just like it was crazy for me to continue relaxing my hair when i knew it was causing my hair to thin. i can call my actions crazy. so i can call your actions crazy too. lol

    everytime you straighten your hair, you are playing russian roulette with your curls.

    it's never that serious. just get a lace front wig and go on your merry way! keep your hair healthy.

    🙂

    Soleil

  • Anonymous says:

    I have been natural since May 2010. Cut 3 inches of relaxed hair off. It took about 2 months for me to get a good wave pattern, and my hair was growing beautifully. I loved the curls! Out of curiosity for the 1st time I had my beautician blow out and flat iron my hair so I could see how much it had grown, and to cut the ends. It was pretty and bouncy looked as if I relaxed my hair..after 2 days of showering and not covering my hair the steam began to poof my hair out. I did not mind because I no longer like the straight look. I applied some Paul Mitchell Leave on it and it immeditely begin to go back into it's natural state…., except for 3 pieces! I thought it was being stubborn so co-washed it. Still straight. I still thought it was being stubborn, so I co-washed it the next day. Same results. Tonight I washed it again with shampoo. Same results. I am accepting the fact those sections have been hear damaged and I am going to have to cut it…So sad, but I will never do it again and there is no telling if I will ever even trust to blow it out although when I tried that there was no problems reverting back. Hope this helps someone, so for me it was not worth it. I too, spent a lot of time and effort in my hair to acquire the best curly look, and with just one flat iron it was sabotaged!

  • Anonymous says:

    This is very helpful I planned to straigthen in three years but it seems like the moajority say that their hair stops curling or the curl gets loosened, hmm, well I still have plenty of time before I make that decision.

  • Anonymous says:

    I've tried straightening my hair and every time I do, it does not revert and I end up cutting out the straight hair. It literally looks like I've permed my hair and no matter how many times I wash it, it stays straight – aggrivating to say the least. I wanted the option to wear straight or curly but I guess my hair has a mind of its own!

  • AusetAbena says:

    I'm gonna be on the far left and say it is not worth it. When I cut off my locs, I did so for more options in styling. Heat is not an option for me. I don't buy the heat protectant stuff, little sprays that claim to protect from heat damage. I don't even own a blow dryer. I don't even use heating agents to deep condtion. It's mainly because I'm paranoid. I have heard too many won't revert stories back. I also dont' want to wear my hair straight and hear a million complements from people who never complement me when my hair is curly. I would take it personally and I don't want them to get used to that. I don't even measure the length of my hair by when it is straightened. That's just me. To each curly her own.

  • Unknown says:

    I stopped getting perms in 2005..I get my hair straightened every 2wks at a salon that specializes in natural hair..my hair is the healthiest and longest it has ever been..my curl is not as tight as some of my friends but i like it… i agree with everyone else on here who believe its a personal choice

  • Angie says:

    As a recent victim of heat damage received after going to a salon and having my hair flat ironed with a set of Marcelles, I say NO!!! NO! NO! NO! NO! It's not worth it. Also, I've learned that nobody is going to treat my hair the way I do. I will definitely find a salon that focus' on natural hair next time I decide to visit one!

  • Anonymous says:

    I went natural a year ago and my hair grew a lot. I started a new career that i felt at the time required me to press my hair. I pressed it and it didn't fall out but now I have heat damage. I'm thinking about cutting it but I don't want to lose my length. Ive decided to twist it tomorrow and keep it that way for a while. In the mean time I will be observing my hair to see if it reverts, stays at this length or grows. I will keep you informed.

  • Anonymous says:

    My last relaxer was December 2007 and I trimmed the last of my relaxed ends in March 2009. From March 2009-November 2009 I only straightened my hair three times, and when I did straighten it–it was a MESS and would not last long at all. Starting in November 2009 to now (March 2010) I have been getting my hair straightened and it looks much better and my hair last a LOT longer. I will go back to no heat in May until November.

  • Anonymous says:

    What is the point of having hair if you can't enjoy it? I believe it is your hair. You should have the freedom to do as you please as long as you are willing to accept the consequences. Everyone's hair is different. Some people can use heat styling without negative impact. How much heat will have a negative impact on your hair depends on your hair type. So, proceed with caution. Just like some people use coloring agents on their hair that compromise the health of their hair. For them the benefits outweigh the costs. I think the same applies for heat styling.

  • Unknown says:

    I've been natural for almost wow 9 months and i just recently flat ironed it for the first time. While the length was great and what not, my hair immediately went back to being poofy. See, I'm a 4b and my hair is just soooo thick so I'm starting to rethink if it's worth it. All my classmates in law school always talk about how cool my hair is when I just wear it naturally curly anyways. So, I'm over the whole pressing thing i think. NOw, I do like blowouts but try to do those on the coolest setting.

  • TrendySocialite says:

    I think it's a personal choice. I think the cause that we should be rallying around is HEALTHY hair…whether it's natural or relaxed. And yes, relaxed hair can be healthy. Over the past few weeks, I've realized that I am a healthy hair advocate…I support anyone making healthy hair choices.

  • SPIRITUAL AWAKENING says:

    I think its based on the individual. I know women that have been natural for over 10 years and they get their hair pressed every 2 weeks and the hair is healthy. In the summer they do a wash 'n' go and the curls are still there. With any hairstyle its about maintaining healthy hair. If you know how to protect your hair from heat and trust a professional then there isn't a problem. Its your hair, who cares if you straighten it. Everyone is not going natural to obtain a certain "natural look."

    I blow dry my hair and it doesn't get bone straight at all and thats not the look I'm trying to achieve, its just to get my hair dry and style it the way I want. Everyone's hair is different and what works for one person, doesn't work for everyone. I know women that have never used a flat iron in their life and hair is still not healthy. In the end its about healthy hair.

    The question is a personal one so don't put your own personal beliefs on someone else.

  • Milan says:

    Hair is a very personal thing and for the straight naturals, it's no thing on the no reversion issue. Some don't mind some of the loosening and some do. No matter what we decide, our hair is always growing. It's about learning your hair's limits and doing what you feel is best for your hair. For some that means never applying any form of heat others lots of it or others a happy medium.

    I don't see anything wrong with straightening every now and again. Many naturals use rollersetting and silk wraps to achieve straight looks using very minimal heat like sitting under the dryer which is indirect heat and a much healthier option. Many suffer little to no damage from straightening this way. I'm going to be doing my first one since being natural in a couple weeks and plan to straighten 1-2 times a year for length checks and trims.

    I love the versatility that comes with natural hair and believe that they are more healthy options for straightening, if you like to do that, than using flat irons and blow driers.

  • Anonymous says:

    Heat Styling in NOT worth it to me. Plain and simple. I am 25 years old and my mother stopped perming my hair at around 12-13. During this time I single braided and weaved. When I got to university I started weaving my hair but to make it appear "more natural" I would leave the front of my hair out and straighten, sometimes daily in order to achieve a look that matched the weave. I did this for a couple years. When I finally stopped weaving I discovered that while washing my hair the front remained straight. Sadly, I did not realize that this was heat damage until this past summer. I have stopped using heat altogether and I have been single braiding my hair with medium sized braids and trimming in order to get rid of the damage in the front. I guess one can try it out to see how it works for them but my opinion is that the heat does not do much to promote or help hair to become more healthy so why bother.

    N.S

  • Anonymous says:

    To the person who said how do you twist the hair without blowdrying: I always twisted mine wet and let it air dry, even when I was transitioning. Only when I was transitioning did I ever dabble in "mess" territory, because sometimes I'd take the set down before it was completely dry or because the relaxed hair was a mess in general. It would take more time to blowdry my hair first and I'm impatient. Also it probably wouldn't dry with as shiny a look if I blowdried.
    Oh and to the original question: I wouldn't risk heat styling with an unknown hand because that's a rare occasion thing and I don't want to totally screw up my everyday hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think it depends on your hair and the heating appliance your using and how much heat and how often. I wear my hair curly in the summer and flat iron in the winter. I've been natural for about eight years now and I flat iron about every three weeks with a ceramic coated flat iron and when i wash my hair my curls just bounce back like they were never gone.I don't use blow dryers or curling irons so i don't know about them but some flat irons are just two pieces of metal heating up not even with heat control.With everything you do for your hair you have to be sure to use the best options available like i said i don't use curling irons but my sister does and she uses the ceramic ones.

  • Anonymous says:

    it depends on how much you love your curls.If you dont mind the loss of definition then go ahead and straighten. HEAT DAMAGE IS VERY REAL.I was vey careful only used heat no more than twice a year I had perfect well defined 3c curls all over had my hair blown out at a salon and suffered heat damage . I dont think its worth it because i love curly hair.I just trimmed my ends until i got rid of the damage it was in the front.Its funny because i was just thinking about this a few days ago because my hair is starting to look like it used to and i thought to myself I will not be straightening my hair anytime soon!

  • Anonymous says:

    I was so dumb about heat damage until just a few months ago. I thought about three inches of my ends had gone bone straight and wouldn't curl/revert again because the hair had come in contact with relaxer residue in my stylist's shampoo sink. Duh! LOL I had her scrubbing her already clean sink before I would sit. Now I know it probably wasn't relaxer residue, but the heat she was using on my hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi CN, in my opinion I say it's not worth it. Especially when you have a full beautiful head of thick shiny curls. Why bother? I pressed my hair twice last year, once for a trim, and the second to get a set of braids done. I even regretted that. I am committed to NO heat for the future. That is just me….do what works for you. If a natural can get by heat styling and her curls snap back, then more power to you. But I just know for myself to not risk it! Plus, my hair smells great when I just use my products, shampoo, condition, style, twisting/and or braiding it. I hate the burning smell of pressing combs and flat irons/blow dryers, and I don't want my hair smelling like that. I don't own any torture tools, and don't plan on it. I refuse to grow out my hair, heat damage it and have to cut off my progress, that would make me soooo angry. Good luck to any and all who heat style or contemplating it. 🙂

  • svrbrownsuga says:

    Hey CN!! I think if here and there flat ironing happens it's ok. I also believe doing a reconstructing treatment will be needed. Good luck to anyone who straightens from time to time

  • Anonymous says:

    I would tend to think that hair type does play a role but that generally, consistent straightening will result in a different sort of curl. I stopped relaxing Oct. 2008 and have only a couple of inches of straight ends (that I should really just chop off!). I consistently got blow-outs and rarely experimented with curly styles because when I did it would just never have the same effect I see in others. The twist outs are wavy, but no OOMPH or LIFT. Granted, my hair is pretty fine to begin with but I def think it's a product of the constant heat so I'm taking 2-3 month breaks in between my heat stylings now to see if I notice a change.

  • Green T Goddess says:

    Well to me, I really do not see the difference. either way you're still natural right?? I love my curls, but when I just don't know what to do with them, I straighten them. But that's really only in the winter because the straightening lasts for up to a month on my hair. In the summer I just rock a crazy fro the whole time 🙂

  • Namun says:

    I'm terrified of applying direct heat to my hair, so I don't. If I want a straighter look I just roller set my hair and sit under a dryer on med-low heat. Gives me the look I want every time.

  • Anonymous says:

    I've been natural since 2000. Though my hair length was past mid back, it shrank considerably when I did my WNG's so I flat ironed it from time to time just to sport the length. I noticed that after I wore my hair straight for a week or so, I would have a looser curl after washing it the first time, but after a few washes, it always bounced back. Then I started visiting my hairdresser for regular 2 week DT. She would blow dry and flat iron everytime. I started noticing that there were sections of my hair that would not curl and other areas where I used to have tight coils were now loose curls. I talked to her about it and she swore it would "bounce back". It never did. Eventually my hair started breaking badly because I was trying to manage 2 different textures (hell, the straight hair was just damaged anyway). Eventually, in November of last year I had to cut all of it off and start all over again. I am now terrified of heat. If I want to wear it straight, I'll roller set it and maybe sit under a dryer, but no direct heat. NOT WORTH IT!

  • Bilqis says:

    Hi ladies,
    I didnt read thru every single post above but i just had to chime in. For me…it definetly is not worth it..at least not at this time. I have been on again off again natural for years. Sometimes as a curly girl I would straighten my own hair with a blow dryer or flat iron. That was fine bc a)i would not use really high heat, and b)i'm lazy, so theres no way i was spending more than 25 minutes to straighten my whole head, no matter the medium, so i got more of a stretched out afro/puffy look with straightened roots raterh than straight hair. However, after doing another bc after the birth of my 1 1/2 year old son, i decided to get my hair flat ironed and trimmed professionally (5 months post BC) Well, that was a HUGE mistake. She blow dried AND flat ironed my hair which was completely unneccessary -why i said notheing i dont know-and about 6-7 months after that i had to admit defeat by the heat damage and do another major BC. The heat damage was horrible. My hair just would not curl back properly and it was breaking off. Not even henna could save it. Now its like im back to sqare one. Waiting toll my hair is long enough to fit into a ponytail again! If you want a straighter look what about those curlformers Nikki spoke about some months back. It gives a look like a press and curl. I think thats safer. Im gonna try n stay away from the heat, but if u know what u doing n dont mind the risk then go ahead.

  • Nicole James says:

    When I first moved out to AZ I had no idea what to do with my natural hair. It was easy in NYC because I just went to the salon to get it twisted. My hair was just pass shoulder length and I decided I was tired of the twist. I started getting my hair pressed every other week. After a few months my curls were lacking big time. So I had to do a major chop to get rid of the part of my hair that would not revert due to heat damage. It was a lesson learned.

    Now I still straighten my hair. I only do it once every 6-8 weeks. To be honest my hair needs the break from the curls. After a week of straight hair my hair is even happier curly. It did take some getting use to what type of heat and products to use when I straighten my hair. I no longer press it. I let it air dry then blow dry on low then flat iron with my CHI.

    I think naturals can wear their hair straight. They just have to learn what works for their hair. It could be a slow process to find this out because you have to experiment. BTW when my hair is straight everyone thinks it is relaxed. So I think you CAN have the best of both worlds. That is one of the reasons I LOVE being natural.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have asked my self the question "Is it worth it??" So many times with regards to my hair!

    For me, it's not worth it. I have worked too hard to get my natural hair loveliness back and I wouldn't change it for anything. I used to press my hair daily back in the day. While pressing, my hair grew past my shoulder and was full and very soft. But eventually, after about 4 or so years, it began to get thin, and weaker, and uneven. I wore weaves, did color, and just loved trying all types of styles. My hair suffered. I just celebrated my 1 year hair-versary being natural (yaaaaay me!!!) and I have only applied heat once. I did it around xmas time just to see… I blow dried it on low and I kept hitting the "cool shot" button because I was so freaked out it would ruin my curls, lol! It didn't get very straight at all because I wasn't using enough heat… So I just left it big and bushy and called it a day!

    My hair is so healthy and full I am scared to death of heat. But heat at a certain temperature is fine. I mean if you think about it, the sun heats up your on a daily basis… My test is if it burns my skin, it's too hot. I keep the blow dryer at a temp that is comfortable on my skin… and I don't plan on using he flat iron anytime soon…

  • Anonymous says:

    I respect your opinion Samantha. I personally don't think my title is an unfair bias, particulary because I have never straightend my curly hair. It is in fact "temporary" to straighten your hair if your hair is naturally curly. And I haven't read a post on here yet that would refute that there is a risk of damage. So the question remains the same. Is it worth the risk of damage to use heat to achieve a straighter style? I'm fully aware that some people use heat for the versatility. That is why I asked the question in the first place. So that I can make an informed decision.

    —-Tawanna

  • Samantha says:

    I've been natural almost my entire life (save a 2 year period when I had a perm in order to rock a fierce short style). Anyway, I have never had a problem with my curls reverting back after I've been straight. I just began paying attention to how to really care for my hair about a year ago, and since then I've only used heat once. However, the point of me embracing my curls was to exploit the versatility of natural hair, and the ability to wear it straight, curly, twisted, fro'd, etc. I personally don't think there's anything wrong with wearing your hair straight, and am looking forward to my next hair appointment in a few weeks.

    Also, just as a sidenote, I really think the title of this post is unfair and suggests an automatic bias against heat styling. Especially since everyone does not experience breakage or permanent straightening of their hair. Asking "is heat styling worth it" is insinuating that it's 100% negative that people do for a temporary high, like asking "is smoking worth it". Just something to think about, lol.

  • Maria says:

    I rollerset my hair all the time and I've had no issues with losing my curls. I personally don't see anything wrong with straightening my hair. In the winter its my style of choice. In the summer I mostly co-wash. I think that if you're going to use heat then use it wisely and make sure your hair is in good health.

  • Anonymous says:

    I'd say, it's not worth it. My hair broke after using the hot comb and when I say broke, I mean "broke" 🙂 on the from on my head and the lenght of what was left was less than half an inch, so you can imagine. Now, I think I blow dry my hair like once or twice a year. Hot comb, flat irons?? I still have them, but haven't used them since my hair broke about almost two years ago… that's just my opinion and it depends on the individual…

  • Anonymous says:

    Okay…the way I consider what I'll do to my hair is if I'd do it to my baby's hair. I am petrified of damaging her beautiful natural gorgeous oingy-boing curls….so…I dont straighten. I don't think that's being a snob…thats not wanting to do damage! Direct heat will damage ur hair! Own it! So the question do u mind damaging ur hair with a hot comb or a CHI rather than roller setting/wrapping ur hair for a straight style.. :o/

  • raslade808 says:

    i personally feel like heat is a good and a bad thing. sometimes you need a change and want to switch it up with hair styles but i am personally staying curly for a few reasons. my hair stylist LOVED her flat iron. when you go to the salon and come out and your hair moves with the wind, you buy a flat iron so when you want to do it home it looks great. WRONG!!! omg worst mistake of my life. I didn't have the option of a long term transition. I did the heat protecting sprays, wrapped it, washed once a week and my hair was limp, lifeless and just dead. I say it's up the person but if you don't NEED to straighten, i would wear it curly. plus, i will say that to wear your hair curly is different. I always notice a woman with natural hair before the woman with relaxed. It's not about "black power" or being afrocentric. I am PROUD of my skin and culture as a woman raised in Jamaica and exposed to dreadlocks and natural hair and wore my hair natural for 12 years. I just feel like as Chris Rock said in good hair, why do you want to look like everyone else??

  • maliboo says:

    I use heat spraringly- maybe three times a year…because i like the way my hair looks both straight and curly. To me, part of the beauty of natural hair is that it is versatile, and offers me the best of both worlds 🙂

  • bambiix2 says:

    For me my natural hair is not an accessory, maybe my relaxed hair was .. but not my natural.

    I am a 2 month natural and I have no intentions of using heat on my hair ever ( even though that may change). My reason for going natural is to embrace my curl and I believe using heat will defeat that purpose. If I want to check length i will pull it, if i want to trim .. I will do it in sections. Heat will not be used to damage or alter my hair

  • Anonymous says:

    There are some healthy ways to straighten your hair. First I never wear my hair bone straight but it's much more straight than my curls. First way is I do a roller set on my hair and then do a silk wrap. Second way if I'm feeling lazy which is the less healthy way I put my hair in big braids when it's wet so it can dry over night and then I would flat iron using a heat protectant of course therefore I'm eliminating the blow drying. I don't do this often though. I wear my hair curly most of the time. I only straighten my hair about every 3 months if that.

  • The Retro Natural says:

    I use heat a few times a year and this is because I've learned that for myself, using heat on even a weekly basis is damaging. I was just blowdrying on high/hot and it damaged my hair. So you live and you learn.

    Now, I use the coldest/cool setting with a diffuser to dry my wash and go's after plopping, and I don't have any damage. My hair is soft, it's strong and it's healthy looking. So you gotta see how much your hair is willing to take.

  • Pinkrage says:

    I know many of you talk about pressing, blow drying and or flat ironing. What about the hooded dryer?

    Heat is heat! It can be low heat or high heat. I think your hair texture and condition have a lot to do with how it reacts to it.

    Hair is an accessory. If you want it straight, fine! If you want it curly, fine! If it breaks off…it WILL grow back. I am NOT my hair. ALthough I love my curls. I will NOT let them dictate whether or not I wear it straight or curly (via hooded dryer, blowdryer, etc). I will always be very conscious of the type and amount of heat that I put in my hair.

  • jada07 says:

    I transitioned for 2 years before my "mini chop". During that time, I was getting my hair flat ironed at my salon rather than doing more protective transition styles. When I finally decided to take my hair care into my own hands i realized that I didn't have nearly as much "new growth" as I expected. When I started doing my research I discovered that heat damages curly hair and makes it straight. I was upset with myself for not doing more research when I made the decision to transition and I ended up having to cut much more hair than I should have after 2 years.

    That said, I don't see anything wrong with flat ironing as long as it is not consistent and you use heat protectant, etc. Since my mini-chop 5 months ago, I have straightened my hair 3 times and I have not had any problems with my curls coming back.

  • Anonymous says:

    Honestly every individual's hair is different. There are risks with using heat regularly. Although its really up to the individual whether or not to use heat, it is important to be careful as heat can be very damaging to hair. Personally if want a straight look i simply WIG IT or sew in WEAVE IT and there are soooo many wig options out there and as a plus your natural hair is protected UNDer the wig or sew in, i find it great as an option. Also when i trim i may blow dry on a low setting and i've had no problems as i do use heat protectant. But again each individual's hair is different. That family member who now wants to rock her curls could try straw set, twist-n-curl, braid-n-curl, bantu knots and so on for those straighter pieces that are not blending.

  • JustTrena says:

    Hey ya'll! Weighing in on the heat thing.. I am a big chicken when it comes to heat and my hair HOWEVER, my teen-aged daughter wears her hair straight 98% of the time and her hair has reverted to her beautiful curls every time. She does use heat-protectant EVERY time and she only touches it up with (low) heat once or twice before her next wash day. Mind you, she only gets her hair washed about once every two to three weeks. But I must say, her hair has never looked so healthy and I haven't found any damage at all since she started this process. I guess it depends on how well your overall care is.

  • Gina says:

    So how do you dry your hair to twist it unless you blow dry it first?! I've been going to the salon to get my hair twisted and I can't fathom not blowing it out first. Air drying would be a complete mess

  • Anonymous says:

    To edit my previous post. I didn't mean to say I can't believe I won. I meant to say that I couldn't believe Nikki posted my topic. Because this is something I have been struggling with. Don't want to get ahead of myself! But I hope I do win!

    ======Tawanna

  • Anonymous says:

    It is not worth it! Especially if you want to have curls. I have been natural for upwards of four years, but preferred my hair straight. I had my hair straightened once a week and now my curl pattern is shot. There is no definiton and it looks as if I have a relaxer. I have been transitioning for about four months now and refuse to straighten my hair again.

  • Anonymous says:

    OMG! I can't believe I won. Please believe I have read every one of these posts. I have been so scared of any form of heat. I have not done length checks, and I clip my own ends while curly. Sometimes, I'll see a heat protectant product and think "well maybe if I use something like this, it'll be ok." But I haven't done so yet. Too afraid. Thank you guys for all your inputs!

    ——Tawanna

  • Anonymous says:

    Be very careful. I BC'ed back in November last year and I'm afraid to use heat. I have loose S curls/deep waves in the front and loose cork screws in the back. Whenever I wear my hair in a bun, my hair becomes straight (as if I blowdryed it). If I wear my hair in a bun everyday for an extended period of time (a week), my hair gets a little stubborn and seems to want to remain straight! My curls come back only after a condition wash. If bun-ing it will do that, I can't imagine what heat will do! :O

  • Anonymous says:

    I completely overreacted last year and cut off the 2-3 pieces of hair that wouldn't revert after having read about this problem on several blogs. If I had simply tried to wear styles other than wash-and-gos I don't think those few strands would have been a big deal.

  • Nic Natural says:

    It definitely is an individual thing. Same as some people can chemically relax for years with no damage or color without a problem, there are those who can use heat without any issues. I have been relaxer free for over 9 years. I have very thick 4b/c hair with tight coils throughout. I love twist outs and my big wash and wear afro-puff. But I like the versatility of my hair, which allows me to rock it straight if I want.
    Normally I press it during the winter months. I go to a stylist who uses a blow dryer and flat iron (no hot comb) and she uses protective products. I don't use heat between visits unless I need to touch up edges that have gotten wet. Usually moisturizing, pin curling or wrapping is all the maintenance I need. When I'm ready to go big and poufy again, I have no problem with parts that won't curl up. And whether I've been rocking it straightened or in it's normal state sometimes the very ends won't curl. That's an indicator that I need a trim, which is required whether you heat style or not.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am currently transitioning from "heat damaged hair." I have big chopped twice in my life and when my hair gets to that awkward in between stage, I start flat ironing. The many compliments and fresh new look makes me continue to straighten. Until, I wash and realize its not as full and my curls are a LOT looser. I really hope this time is the last time for me:(

  • hesfaithful says:

    For me it hasn't been worth it. I've straightened 3-4 times for length checks and trims in the year since my BC (2/09). Each time it's been more and more difficult to get it straight to the degree I'd like without using what I feel is excessive heat. Then it reverts within a good 15 minutes of finishing — just makes me wanna cuss (smh)!

  • LBell says:

    The answer to the question "Is it worth it?" really depends on you and your hair and what you want to do.

    The only time I ever had serious split ends was back in the day when I was blow-drying every week with a comb attachment. I also used to flat-iron my hair on average 1-2x/year and I never experienced loss of elasticity BUT that may be because I always underestimated the amount of direct heat. I was never a fan of the bone-straight look even as a permie so I didn't really need it as a natural. That particular look is not worth it to ME.

    I've recently returned to using a blow-dryer without a comb attachment. I either do the tension method (which only stretches) or, if I wake up in the morning and my roots are still damp, I'll blast them for about 5 seconds. But it's been 6 years since an iron last touched my hair and I'm not really in any hurry to change that.

  • Susan says:

    My hair has been natural all my life. I think heat does damage hair but it also depends on the intensity and frequency of use. For many years I blowdried my hair about once a month, the rest of the time it was cornrowed. My hair was still thick and retained length. I moved to the US a few years ago and that is when I noticed a change in my hair, it took me a while to learn that I needed to moisturise more in this climate especially in winter. It also costs more to get hair cornrowed or braided here and most people do not do a good job. My hair is still thick, kinky when I wash it but I've lost some length. In my opinion, the damage, mainly breakage was due to dryness and manipulating the hair more often especially daily combing. I would still blow dry once a month, at most after about 3 weeks. I have never used a hot comb. I considered a flat iron but after some thought, I realised the hair would be straighter but since its contact heat, you could easily over do it leading to serious damage. The most damage to hair is from relaxers, since it affects the scalp as well. My new challenge is to try and do no heat at all. I can braid my own hair and twist so will have to see how this goes.

  • Lori says:

    I haven't used heat on my hair since last spring, so it's been almost a year now. I stopped the heat styling (curling iron, flat iron, hood dryer, etc.) because although I didn't have a relaxer in my hair at the time, I was flat ironing my pixie cut daily so it would be spiky. When I decided to do wash and go for the spring, summer, it took several weeks and washes to get my hair back to its former curly state. That scared me, you know?

    I'm new to the whole "all natural" hair thing and I do not want to turn into a natural hair snob, but after frying my hair with color and heat for years trying to obtain white movie star styles, I would feel guilty going back to the heat styling at all for now, fearing bringing more damage upon my head. I'm not saying never, but at this point I've worn straight hair for what, 36 years? So I need to give my natural hair a chance.

    Lastly, I think my reasoning for wearing my hair straight was flawed. One, I just have to admit I always wished I had long, luxurious blonde hair. So the straighter the better. Second, for some reason I thought that straight hair was easier to care for than my natural curly hair. NOT SO. I mean, you've got to keep it straight. Partly straight with frizzy sides is not a good look. I had to wear a style several days because it would take me so long to wash, blow dry, and style it straight. Finally, I was flattered by guys who liked straight hair and would tell me, "Ooo, I never knew a black girl who could wear her hair feathered like Farrah Fawcett." I feel like shallow idiot now.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think anything excessive is not good. I will say that there is a huge difference between using a hot comb and a flat iron. No comparison really. Just say no to the comb!

  • Anonymous says:

    Hey, it's the same person from the comment above.

    I forget to mention that I'm 15 so it took me around ten years before I saw heat damage. Some people's hair cannot handle the slightest heat. I'm just glad that despite all the heat I've put on my hair, I haven't completely lost my texture as in I don't have any straight parts or ends. Still not willing to take the risk and straighten religiously like I used to though.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think it depends on the person and how much they value their natural hair. Some people are not really conscious about their hair. They just do whatever floats their boat.

    For me, I've personally straigtened my hair with some type of heat whether it be blow dryer, hot comb, or flat iron since I was five and it took me till Summer '08 to notice heat damage. Even then, I did not have any straight parts, but the front of my hair is wavy opposed to curly/kinky.

    My texture has changed to the point where wash n gos won't even look good. I know you can have different textures and make it work, but my hair is loosely waved in the front, curly in the middle, and kinky in the back so when it shrinks it looks crazy.

    Now, I'm at the point where I'm terrified of heat because I don't want my hair to get damaged any further. I'm especially worried about straightening the front since that is where I have visible damage.

    I vowed that if I do want to wear my hair straight sometime in the future, I will rollerset my hair first and flat iron on a low temperature or just skip that and do a silk wrap.

  • Anonymous says:

    Heat damage is always on my mind. Back in Aug. 2009, I made the mistake of flat ironing right after going natural. I had heat damage all around the edges of my head. I just hated to look at the straggly ends,(and it wasn't little; it was A LOT). I cut them off last week, and though my hair is uneven, it looks so much better. (I couldn't bring myself to cut what wasn't damaged.)

    No more flat ironing for me! I've learned my lesson. I do however use a hooded dryer for roller sets. Do you consider indirect to be damaging? It's the rollers that do the work, and not the hooded dryer. The dryer just speeds up the process in my opinion.

  • Unknown says:

    I had my hair professionally pressed and curled once last summer. I have been natural for the past 13 years. When it was time to wash it out, half my head did not revert back to my curl pattern. It was a wimpy wave or pathetically bone straight!!!!! Needless to say I am too through with the hot comb. I'm o.k. with blow drying. I might even consider a low temp flat iron. But you could not pay me to get my hair pressed and curled ever again! I would sooner wear a straight wig than do that!

  • Unknown says:

    I am always very torn about using heat. I love my curls but I will get am itch to straighten from time to time. I haven't flat ironed my hair in a long time though because I am terrified with heat damage. Last summer I did go to a salon and they used way way too much heat and I ended up losing about 4 or 5 inches. Not worth it in my opinion.

  • Anonymous says:

    It is most defititely not worth it, especially if ur a newbie & ur curls are fresh & beautiful. I have first hand experience in this & i can say that i wish i wouldn't have used heat so much over the years. Because now that i'm in college, i really wish i could get up & go with my head full of curls but i can't. My hair is LITERALLY 1/2 & 1/2…the left side of my head is COMPLETELY BONE STRAIGHT. While the right has a really pretty soft curl. so i can't rock a natural style without some rollers or twist or something…& even then as a couple days go by the left side starts to lean & get straight while the right side shrinks up more. It is a mess at times lol but i work it out. : ) & i also know many women who attempted to natural but after only 3 or 4 times of straightening it, a patch of their hair would not curl back so they resorted back to perms. so in my opinion..if you want to straighten for trims or length checks, i think it should only be done a few times a year because i just wouldn't want to risk all those beautiful CURLS!! : ) MUCH LOVE NATURAL LADIES!! Ur beautiful!!

  • Kay says:

    I personally wear my hair curly about 98% of the time. I love my curly hair, even when it fustrates me I still adore it. But there are those times, when I want a change.
    I suffered horrible heat damage when i was in high school because I used to get my hair blown out every 3-4 at the dominican salon. I had straight/wavy/frizzy pieces hanging in the front and sides. That's when I decided that I wasn't going to get my hair straightened as often anymore. Currently I straighten twice a year, six months apart. There are those times when I want to wear my hair straight.
    It is VERY IMPORTANT to be careful when straightening. I deep condition, use a heat protectant and not straighten on the highest setting.

  • Unknown says:

    I have a friend who always straightens and her hair curls right back up. She makes sure her hair is protected. However, recently she's been experiencing some hair loss, BUT we do not know if heat is the cause as this is new and she's been straightening for a while now.

    On the other hand, I have a friend who just recently went natural and she got her hair straightened and the lady that did it did NOT put any heat protecting product on her hair before beginning. My friend has 4b/4c hair that is VERY thick and she ended up with a patch of hair that WILL NOT revert back and she's only been natural now for a few months and this is her first time straightening.

    It's a gamble really. It's a risk you have to take to see if your hair will revert back or not.

    For me personally, I've never had any issues with my hair reverting back, I straighten twice a year to trim.

  • Anonymous says:

    It isn't worth it! I straightened for the first time last December and my hair is still recovering! My curls have loosened and I have sections of hair on the left side of my head that refuses to revert. My straightened hair was beautiful and I received many compliments, but I regret ever pressing my hair.

  • Jennifer says:

    My sister-in-law has been natural for a few years now, but you'd never know because she straightens her hair with a flat iron. Her hair is surprisingly very healthy though. I stopped using heat on my hair even before going natural, and can't fathom doing it now. Perhaps it's up to individual.

  • Jessica says:

    I've never had issues with permanently straight sections of my hair because of heat damage. But I do notice an increase in split ends immediately after straightening with heat. I've used heat protectants and put myself in the hands of professionals that I trust, but can't avoid splintery, shaggy and severe split ends, so I hardly ever use heat.

  • naturalnubian13 says:

    For me…. it is not worth it. This is exactly the reason why I am so afraid to straighten my hair. I recently cut off the rest of my relaxed ends, and havent used a flat iron since May. However there is still about an inch and a half a ends that simply will not curl.

    Notice I said that it is not worth it for me. Some natural do not desire to ever rock their natural texture and are content w/ flat ironing their hair for the rest of their life. For them…maybe it is worth it. I guess their hair is more healthy than it would be w/ a relaxer on it…but I dont know.

    The general consensus is that too much heat is not good for any type of hair.

  • Nappturall says:

    I've been napptural for a whole year…I have not use ANY heat…I don't see the need to…I grew a whole head of thick full napps…I mean thick..so I feel there is no need to use heat to thin it out…plus I've spent alot of money henna'ing my hair for a whole year(I get a whole year supply)..that made it healthy and thick…so no heat for me at all…IMHO its not worth it. All you have to do is look around and see the ladies that did use heat and damage their hair..and had to start all over..one thing about me..I learn from "other" people "mistakes"….

  • Anonymous says:

    I've been natural for about 6 years. I just went completely curly in the last few months. When I first started wearing my curls they did kind look yucky, but now after some time they're great. I still like the straight look, just not the work I had to do to maintain it. I'm much happier and more confident now. Instead of worrying that my hair will revert or look frizzy I can just enjoy myself.

  • ivycurls says:

    It has actually been almost 1year since I stopped relaxing my hair, but I have only been what I call "natural" since August. I made this distinction because while I no longer relaxed my hair I was still blow drying my hair every other week, so it wasn't relaxer straight but it was straight. When I made the decision to go natural I also made the decision to stop using heat on my hair, I don't blow dry it out or use a flat iron. The difference in my hair is amazing. The heat had obviously been altering my hair, because I had never seen one curl while blow drying and now that I stopped there are nothing but curls. Blow drying altered my hair just as much as a relaxer did, it prevented my curls from going in. If I go to the salon, I only do a roller set and sit under the dryer, under no condition will I let anyone apply heat directly to my hair. Some people might be able to get away with it but heat is a direct threat to my curls and I refuse to use it again.

  • Anonymous says:

    Don't Do it! No hot comb…no heat… I went to a salon to get it done. It looked nice but it broke my hair off in spots and the front doesn't curl at all now and the side looks like it got relaxed =/ that was in October it Feb, and the curls/coils have not returned =/

    Wish I never did it.

    p.s. My hair is really soft and fine even when nappy. it might have a lot to do with hair type and not some much the heat itself…

  • Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately, you'll never truly know how your hair will respond to heat styling until you try it out.I agree with the comment Anon @ 5:40 wrote, "many of us work hard to get our hair healthy in it's most natural state"….do you want to risk all of that hard work? A previous poster commented that "I think too many natural are too paranoid about heat". It seems that some people have a problem with their hair reverting, while others don't. Straightening or heat styling is really a gamble. For those considering heat styling, my comment is this, please consider the negative consequences too, because your hair may never look the way it looked prior to straightening. I know this from personal experience. With repetitive heat styling, you may find that your hair is looser
    (than normal) and/or has lost a lot of elasticity.
    Just for the record, I like the straight look too from time to time, minus the risk…..so I wig-it or weave-it for a while (as an added bonus, my hair is protected and resting).

  • Anonymous says:

    If you start off with healthy hair and take all proper precautions (using heat protectant, not using an extremely high temp) then I say go for it. Heat styling can be damaging as can many other things…like using too much acid in ur henna mix, braiding too tight, or wearing too tight of a bun consistently…

  • Anonymous says:

    If you moisturize and protect you hair properly then you should have any heat damage. My mom hot combed/pressed my hair my whole life up until like the 8th grade and I never had any heat damage and my hair was just are thick and full. It wasn't until I started flat ironing it myself that I experience very mild damage over a long period of time. So asking if it's worth it to us heat on your hair isn't the right wording. If you want straight hair, then straighten it, just protect right so you don't regret it later. I think too many natural are too paranoid about heat. As with everything, if used properly then it's harmless.

  • Anonymous says:

    I personally dont think its worth it. Because we work soo hard ladies-for so long to get our hair full and healthy at its natural state. For what? to wear it straight for a couple days max with the chance that it never be the same again? I personally will wear wigs or full head weaves if i want the straight look.

  • No1blkbeauty says:

    I have experienced heat damage. Before my first relaxer over five years ago, I flat-ironed my hair on a weekly (sometimes more) basis. The hair in the front was so badly damaged that I passed the flatiron over it just to curl the ends. I did not realize at the time how damaged my hair was. I was just happy to have less hair to straighten. After have this *wonderful* experience, I am not a fan of heat on my hair. It has been almost 27 months since my last relaxer and since then, I've used heat twice – about a week after my last relaxer and more recently to dry my hair while in curlformers and even then, I was under the dryer for about 10 minutes. (This just shows how paranoid I am!)

  • bonni says:

    In my humble opinion, it is up to the user.

    Yes, I suffered from heat damage on this last straightening session, but I refuse to sweat it. I like curls and I like straight hair. I have decided that I will not allow my hair to dictate my styling options. I mean, I get straighter sections from headbands and ponytails…So, it is what it is.

    Now, for other people it isn't worth it. Just evaluate how you will feel at the end if the day worse case scenario. For me I figured I could always do some form of twist-out braid-out or go back to being a straight natural. Funny thing is, I used to get regular presses and never had an issue. The flat iron is what gets me. Oh well…

  • Cygnet says:

    As one who has struggled with proper moisturization of my hair for all of my adult life until recently, I believe, based on my own experience, that heat will probably damage your hair faster than anything else except the use of chemicals. If you're going to use it, go with the lowest setting you possibly can, protect your hair with the best thermal protection you can find, and use heat very sparingly. If it's a special occasion during the winter or in an air-conditioned place, and you want it straight for a less textured look, then you may do it as long as you plan to moisturize the daylights out of it immediately afterward, or at the very least the next time you clean it. But weekly and twice weekly–that's no different than many permies already. You might fare better doing a straight or wavy weave, in which case, pick the type that's least damaging to your hair and scalp. Since the weave hair is yours by purchase instead of growth, you can do whatever you want to that until you need to get more.

    As far as frizzies are concerned, I've discovered by research and by experience that (1) hair is more prone to friz if it is not properly moisturized, and (2) some of what we may think is friz is actually the ends of hairs that are shorter than the ones near them, which makes sense when you remember that not all hairs are in the same stage of growth at the same time, and damage or S&D's can result in individual hairs needing to be trimmed shorter than ones nearby. As part of your friz-reduction routine, it is very important to make sure you are properly moisturizing your hair and avoiding or minimizing products, procedures, and situations that can cause hair to be under-moisturized. Then, if you are bothered by the occasional piece that sticks up, you can use an appropriate styling product to hold it down, try a style that allows you to blend in uneven pieces for better symmetry, or, if you're not scissor-shy, try a different cut.

  • Jamie says:

    I used to mainly heat style, about every two weeks, but since October 2008 I've been mainly curly(using heat every 3-4 months). I can definitely tell my new hair from the old. the old is practically straight when wet, and looks like permed hair, while the rest is curly. It's really evident in the front, where my curls were already loose to begin with. I'll never go back to using heat so much, but i dont think every 3-4 months is as bad. But thats just me. And I need to send a update soon to you Ms.Nikki. I'm working on it. 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    I mean summer mths I have my hair curly

  • Anonymous says:

    I use heat mostly during the winter months and have my hair curly during the winter months.
    When I use heat I go back and forth with flat-ironing and body wraps ( that is when you dry your hair using rollers and then warp your hair to lossing the curls). I do this every two-three weeks and never use heat in between styling.

    I do not notice a lost in curl pattern but it does take a coupe of wash for my hair to regain its fullness during the summer months. My roots seem to be stuck to my hair…….

    I also notice this same problem (flat roots) when I rock a pony tail for a while.

    It seems like heat effects everybody differently.

  • NikkiNicole1908 says:

    Personally I think it depends. My mother was natural and pressed her hair virtually all of my life and always had her curls revert back when she shampooed. But I have a friend who is natural and when she straightens her hair on a consistent basis, say for 2-3 months off an on, finds her ends become straight and will not revert.
    Just recently I've been flat ironing my hair a bit more than I usually do and haven't noticed any "relaxing" of my hair. So maybe as with many things it depends on each individual's hair.

  • Beads, Braids & Beyond says:

    I always thought heat was heat. I remember a thread in the CN forums asking if flat irons were better than hot combs, something like that. I have no experience with hot combs, so again, I figureD heat was heat. So they are equal? Well, the more I read up on heat damage, especially when it happens the first time, it is caused by a hot comb/stove iron, or whatever else they are called.

    As far as being worth it, I'm not sure. I think if you take all the >>>>proper precautions<<<< and go to someone you know and trust (whether it's yourself, or a friend/family member) then you should be fine. I wouldn't recommend using heat more than once or twice a year though. I don't think it's worth it to do it weekly, or even monthly.

  • KeetaRay says:

    This post is right on-time. I rarely straighten my hair. After being natural for a little over a year, I've only straightened 3 times for trims and once myself to see the length. Not because I don't want to, per se – but I am VERY nervous about heat damage and didn't even want my hair to be blow-dried to get trimmed. (I may be changing that!) If heat damage weren't an issue, I'd do it more often, but I love my curls so it wouldn't be all the time. It's just a very tricky situation and once the hair is heat damaged, that's pretty much it. I'd rather not start over if I don't have to.

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