This is such a common question, particularly towards the end of the summer because many naturals opt for straightening their tresses upon fall’s arrival. So before we dive in, it is necessary to touch on a few things…just a very general overview so as not to bore anyone. Basically, what happens when there is heat damage is there is a loss of elasticity, which is the hair’s ability to stretch and return to its original state. This is typically the first sign that heat damage has occurred. The more elasticity, the stronger the hair. When the hair is exposed to heat, it threatens the elasticity. If there is excessive heat, whether in one styling session or multiple styling sessions over a period of time, there is a risk of heat damage.
If after shampooing, the normal curl pattern is no longer there, or in other words, there is no reversion, I would venture to say heat damage has occurred. So, there’s good news and bad news… let’s just get the bad news out of the way right off the bat. Heat damage is not reversible…once it’s done, it’s done. Unfortunately the only way to rid the hair of damage is to cut it. Now before you panic, allow me to deliver the good news – you can cut it gradually, much like a like a transitioner in the beginning of the “going natural” process. Allowing the hair to grow out and gradually eliminating the damaged hair will afford you the option of retaining some length. If you are not opposed to cutting your mane, then cutting off the damage in its entirety and starting fresh is an option. Whichever you decide, In the meantime, continue with healthy hair practices such as, (but not limited to):
1. Step up your deep conditioning game – deep condition once per week.
2. Incorporate reconstructor treatments in your regimen to help improve the elasticity.
3. If you chose to continue using heat, do continue using a heat protectant to act as a barrier.
4. Manage the temperature on your heated instruments carefully.
I hope this helps and would love to hear about your next steps.
Sharing hairstories and life experiences from a curl’s perspective. Find Tammy at her blog, Curlychics, on Twitter, and Facebook.
I had heat damaged relaxed hair but I'm yet to straighten my natural hair. Heat damage is sooo horrid if it is extreme. If its a small area, just baby the hair and put in extra work when styling it to hide it. You can gradually trim your hair to maintain your length.
* Raises her hand without shame* I am a victim of heat damage and I am doing mini chops to rid them. My hair did not revert back in the back and the front were I constantly went over with my flat iron and touched up through out the week. I did a protein treatment not extreme protein but light-medium. I upped my moisture deep conditioning to once a week. The heat damage was still there but I just let it grow out and trim it off. Now I only straighten only on occassions or once in a blue moon when I get bored and what to see something different.
Some of these horror stories are why I don't want to straighten my hair at all. I want to see it stretched to the max, but I don't want heat damage to be a factor. I would like to get my hair blown out and straightened for my 2year anniversary. I would hate to have to start over again, but it is "just hair" right? It will grow back!
how often can a protein treatment be done?
I'm transitioning and I'm afraid to straighten my new growth because I'm afraid of heat damage. I just wear curly styles to blend the two textures. Like you, I'd rather wear a wig for a straight look.
I'm so afraid to straighten my hair *ever*! Had a friend that was a victim of heat damage…think I'd rather wear a wig for straight looks.
It is interesting how few people can straighten hair well nowadays. Used to be a LOT of ladies that could press hair well without damaging it, but it would fully revert after washing. Now it seems as if people will give flatirons that last about 2 hours but still have heat damage.
Clearly a lost art form.
I guess I'm lucky b/c the last person who regularly gave me a blowout could do it so it would last but every last hair always reverted.
I think too many people either use too low heat and go over it 100x or too much heat with one swipe. And of course, the ideal heat is different for every head.
I think the paranoia about straightening once is a bit much but yeah, I remember people always testing the pressing comb before pulling it through your hair (on papertowels, rags, or tissue).
As the post said, you cannot reverse heat damage. You can however, hide it without cutting your hair by doing twists or braids and rolling the ends with perm rods; then when you rock your twist/braid out you will not have straight ends. Protein treatments also help for some people.
It's not as humid as the summer so it last a lil longer.
When I first decided to transition, I was ignorant to heat damage, so I used to flat iron at least 3 times per week with a heat protectant and after discovering youtube and hair boards, I decided to stop using heat altogether, and switched up my products – I threw out all the harsh products and started using a paraben, sulfate, silicone free shampoo, conditioners, ..the works!.
I did experience heat damage and a loose curl pattern. All I did after was: stop using heat, deep condition every week (alternate between a light protein treatment and moisturizing deep conditioner), and I also clipped my ends to get rid of the straight ends. 1 year later, my hair is healthy and I've accepted my new curl pattern lol. It's not as devastating as you think it is/ going to be, you just have to accept and continue to love your hair.I recently flat ironed my hair after maybe a year or more of no heat and I didn't use a "heat protectant". I used a grapeseed oil mix and my hair held up, and like everyone else, I was nervous about heat damage, but I am happy to report there was no heat damage. I know store brand heat protectants are suggested, but it has alcohol and all types of other ishh, I suggest you use grapeseed oil.
Naturals straighten in the fall? Why's that?
Well now you have me terrified to use heat on my hair at all! lol
Two months ago I flat ironed my natural hair for the first time. Even though I used a good heat protectant and a high quality flat iron at the recommended temperature, my hair suffered heat damage. What's strange is that the damage didn't become apparent until about a week after I flat ironed. My hair started breaking off in clumps every time I washed my hair. All I could do was handle my hair with extra TLC (very gentle handling, weekly deep conditioning) and let the situation run its course. Thankfully the breakage has finally stopped, but my curl pattern still hasn't fully returned to its original state. If you're thinking of flat ironing your hair, please be careful.
I was looking forward to straightening my hair this fall, but now I'm kinda nervous. I've never experienced any serious heat damage. I always do a protein treatment either before or after I straighten my hair. Deep conditioning helps too.