Tips on using steam and heat caps to moisturize and soften your curls.

When it comes to moisturizing and softening our hair, most curlies have given heat or steam a try at least once. Both are useful options, but they also each have benefits for different purposes. So what exactly are those benefits and how do you decide which one you should use?

Steam Caps

As its name implies, a steam cap relies on the use of steam to send moisture into the cuticle of your hair. Unlike just straight heat, steam is a bit gentler, which is good when you’re dealing with damaged hair.

To use a steam cap, shampoo and condition your hair as usual. You may want to use a deep conditioner if you have one or even a hot oil treatment. Cover your hair in a shower cap, then sit under the steamer for 20 to 30 minutes.

When my stylist has me do this, I usually take the opportunity to read a good book or magazine while steaming! When you’re done, rinse your hair in cool water and pat it dry. Style as usual.

If cost is an issue (or if you’re not thrilled at the thought of being stuck under a steamer for a length of time), consider throwing on a shower cap after you apply conditioner in the shower, then allowing the heat from the shower to steam your hair as you finish the shower.

I have to say, this method seems to work well with my high porosity hair and is much easier to add to my weekly regimen than finding time to sit in the bathroom under a steamer. For other budget-friendly ideas, check out some of the other ways to create at-home steam treatments.

Heat Caps

When it comes to moisturizing and softening our hair, most curlies have given heat or steam a try at least once. Both are useful options, but they also each have benefits for different purposes.

A heat cap is similar to a steam cap, except that it relies on straight heat to do the job. Rather than trapping in heat and saturating your hair in moisture, a heat cap delivers heat through the cap straight to your hair.

You can use a hooded dryer as a heat cap simply by sitting under it. However, depending on your hair’s porosity, you may require lots of heat which will result in dry, brittle (and eventually, damaged) hair. Additionally, Lj at CurlyHue shares that some curlies like to use a heat cap for protein treatments, though you’d probably want to follow it up with a steam cap.

Some curlies like to use a heat cap as a steam cap, and this works too. Simply coat your hair in conditioner and apply a wet cloth or towel to your hair. Cover with a shower cap or plastic wrap, and then sit under the heat cap.

Why Porosity Matters

If your hair is very porous, it soaks up and holds in water like a sponge. It also takes forever to dry — as much as 45 minutes to an hour under a blow dryer. If this describes you, you probably have dry hair that NEEDS deep conditioners and will flourish if you incorporate a steam cap treatment into your regular hair care routine. As a high-porosity curly myself, I can attest to the fact that my hair is incredibly soft and is as smooth as silk following a steaming!

If you’re a low porosity curly, your hair dries quickly. This means that it doesn’t react to products the way you’d expect; sometimes, products just sit there on your hair. To help your hairs actually absorb conditioners and other products, steaming can be a tremendous help.

Either way, whether you’re low-porosity or high-porosity, you’re likely to benefit from steaming.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of which option you choose, if you’re going to purchase a steam or heat cap, be sure to check reviews first and save yourself loads of time and disappointment!

Do you get professional heat or steam treatments or have you created any budget-friendly, at-home steam or heat treatments?