How to repair heat damaged natural hair
Heat damaged on natural hair affects a lot of people. Sometimes it seems that despite all the conditioning, protein treatments, and expensive products, hair can still become damaged.
This can be frustrating, especially since you’ve worked so hard growing your natural hair. Maybe you’ve even been applying a heat protectant.
What many curlies don’t realize is that although heat protectants help, they are not infallible. This means even the best haircare regimen can be countered by applying high heat to the hair.
Unfortunately, despite the claims, these changes in the hair shaft are permanent. But don’t despair.
Though it isn’t possible to reverse heat damage, there are ways to care for your damaged hair and make it more manageable while your healthy hair grows out. With a little patience and care, you’ll be able to have a gorgeous head of healthy and beautiful hair.
Signs and symptoms of heat damage on your natural hair
Even the best haircare regimen cannot ensure that your hair is protected from the damage that occurs from heated styling tools. And when heat is applied to the hair on a regular basis heat damage can still occur.
This is especially true if your hair is fine or thin. Also, because African American hair can be dry, adding high heat damages the hair easier than other types of hair.
At first, you may notice your hair becoming dull or it tangles easier than it used to. That’s a good time to step back and ask yourself if this damage is due to excessive heat.
Ignoring the early signs of heat damage can result in more split ends, increased hair breakage or high porosity. You may notice that your hair feels brittle or “crunchy.”
You can even experience loss of curl pattern. Loss of curl pattern is where the curls are looser than other areas of the hair.
You can determine if your hair is losing its curl pattern by gently pulling a curl straight and letting go. If it doesn’t return to its curly state or if the curl is looser, you have heat damaged hair.
In some cases, parts of the hair will be straight. This is the result of regular straightening with a flat iron.
However, with patience and persistence, recovery is possible.
What causes heat damage
It may seem harmless to want straight hair or bigger curls, but the truth is that using heated styling tools to achieve that look can come at the cost of your healthy hair. The burning point of hair is 450 degrees Fahrenheit, but damage can quickly come at lower temperatures.
If you’ve ever smelled your hair burning when using a flat iron, it is the hair burning. If you see this happening, stop immediately.
The reason this happens is that high heat breaks the S-S bonds of the hair and the protein cross-links of the hair shaft. In everyday terms, high heat changes the structure of the hair.
Many heated styling tools now offer variable temperature settings to help avoid burning the hair. However, what they don’t tell you is that with regular and prolonged use, the hair can still become damaged.
This is why so many ladies are confused when they notice that although they’ve been careful with their haircare regimen, their hair is still damaged. This is due to the damage occurring at a slower rate.
Heat protectants can help slow this process but are not reliable for absolute protection. When applying high heat to the hair, the protein and moisture are being sapped from the hair.
Also, if you use a direct heat hair dryer, flat iron or straightening brush while your hair is wet or damp, you’re essentially cooking the hair. This is like when drops of water are put on a hot skillet.
Treatment of heat damaged hair
Reviving your hair is possible and caring for heat damaged hair isn’t difficult at all. The first step to bringing your hair back to life is to stop applying heat to your hair.
Next, you’ll want to add moisture back into your hair. Start with a moisturizing shampoo.
Consider co-washing with your favorite moisturizing conditioner. This allows the moisture to stay in the hair more efficiently for when you do the next step, deep condition your hair with your favorite hair mask; the last step is sealing in the moisture.
Using oil to seal the hair after washing or co-washing prevents moisture from escaping from the hair. Coconut oil is lightweight and is excellent for sealing the hair.
Also, massaging the scalp with an oil helps keep it healthy and encourages it to produce healthy hair. Another step to helping your hair recover from heat damage is to alternate a protein treatment and moisturizing deep conditioning treatment.
These treatments reach inside the hair cuticle where the damage is and helps with making the hair appear healthier. Cutting the damaged parts of your hair is the only way to permanently be rid of heat damaged hair.
However, as healthy hair grows, trimming the ends a little at a time without cutting a lot of lengths may be a solution.
Hairstyles for damaged hair
Because you won’t be using heat to style your hair any longer, it can be fun to experiment with new hairstyles. Black hair can be fragile, and when it’s damaged, it needs to be handled gently.
This is why looser and protective styles are ideal. Large twists, loose buns, and pineapples are examples of some styles that are beautiful and easy on the hair.
If you have areas of the hair that are straight, twist outs, flexi rods, roller sets, and perm rods help conceal the different curl patterns of your hair and give it a uniform look. Remember to never put too much strain on the hair so avoid tight styles.
If the style looks sleek, it may be stressing the hair. Doing this can further weaken the hair and cause more hair breakage.
Whichever style you choose remember to keep hair manipulation to a minimum. If you need a little inspiration, StyleBlazer has an excellent article with plenty of pics for those looking to style damaged hair without heat.
Growing out heat damaged when you have natural hair
Growing out heat damaged natural hair can at first seem a lot like transitioning from chemically treated hair to natural. In some ways, it’s very similar.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to take care of the new growth with a regimen that helps it stay moisturized and protected. Massaging the scalp with a light oil helps stimulate hair follicles into producing healthy hair.
There are also supplements like biotin which can be taken to help hair grow stronger. As your hair grows, it’s a good idea to maintain a balance between moisture and protein by doing regular protein treatments and deep conditioning treatments.
Sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase helps reduce tangling and hair breakage. Also, regularly trimming off the damaged ends is the best way to get rid of the damage for good.
In time, your hair will be healthy, and you’ll have soft and curly hair.
Best products for natural hair that has heat damaged
If you want to treat heat damaged hair at home, you’re sure to get the best results by using the best products for your hair. While nothing can be done to restore natural curl pattern once it’s been damaged, there are plenty of heat damaged hair products available that can help the hair while it grows out.
Reconstructing treatments like ApHogee 2 Step Protein Treatment can help if the hair still has a curl pattern. Even if your curl pattern is gone, it can still add protein and moisture to damaged hair.
It’s available at Target, Sally Beauty, and online. When it comes to deep conditioning, Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner is excellent in adding needed moisture to heat damaged hair.
It’s all natural, not tested on animals and very useful. It’s available at larger pharmacies and their website sheamoisture.com.
How to prevent heat damage to natural hair
Once you realize your hair has heat damage and you’re taking steps to protect your healthy growing hair, you may be wondering how to prevent heat damage from happening again. The answer is simply to avoid heated styling tools.
This means to stop using blow dryers to dry your hair. Allowing your hair to air dry is the best and healthiest method to drying your hair.
Also, avoid flat irons, curling irons, and straightening brushes. Even when set to a lower temperature, the damage is still occurring, just at a slower rate.
While some may claim that occasional use is allowable, that only translates to once a year. Not once a month.
Learn to embrace your natural hair and all its glorious curls. Before long, you’ll restore your natural curl pattern and have your healthy hair back and never worry about your natural hair and heat damaged again.