The majority of the questions and inquiries I receive on my YouTube channel, email and blog have a common theme. Heat damage. More specifically, inquiring minds want to know if there is hope after heat damage and if so, how to get their curls back. My answers are always personal, because cutting your damage is more than likely a personal decision. There are however, some very tell-tell signs for when it’s really time to let go.
The 1st Sign
Raggedy ends. My word choice is very specific because I feel that ‘raggedy’ describes almost every scenario in which it is time to let go. Heat damage usually stands out like a sore thumb. Part of the heat damaged strand, whether it be the ends or mid-shaft, is limp and lifeless. Lifeless ends don’t necessarily mean that you must cut your ends. Personally, my lifeless ends helped me discover several styles. Like many transitioners braid outs, twist ‘n curls and roller sets were routine styles in my arsenal for blending my curly and straight textures. However, if you’re lifeless ends are frayed and breaking causing split-ends and knots, IT’S TIME TO LET GO!
Raggedy ends prevent the hair you could be transitioning into from reaching its full potential. Split ends spread up to the hair shaft spilt the healthy hair growing from your scalp. Knots or SSKs (Single Strand Knots) are the result of raggedy ends getting together for a raggedy party. No one has time for that. Knots caused by raggedy ends attract their other raggedy counterparts (shed hair, dirt, dust, debris) and can even cause clumpy tangles at the ends of tightly coiled hair (4c).
The 2nd Sign
Styling frequently fails. Now let me stress again that cutting your heat damaged ends is a personal decision. So if you are happy with them go forth. But just in case your friends are too afraid to tell you, I will: straight-ended wash n gos are not cute. A straight-ended wash n go is a wash n go that has promise but just doesn’t take the cake. Curls from root to mid-shaft with straight or lifeless ends are just no good, and a telltale sign of damaged hair. IT’S TIME TO LET GO!
I have yet to see a heat damaged, straight-ended wash n go that was cute! Most of us strive to be cute, right? Same goes for styles that are not consistent because of heat damage. Bushy ends may be a sign of The Raggedy (see above) and should be avoided if your twist out or style shows promise closer to your roots.
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The 3rd Sign
Dragging out the transition. Take it from me. I’ve expressed that I have always been a “No BC for Me” type of girl in the past. I still am. A big chop is just not my style. However, looking back on my transition from heat damage I definitely wish I had cut my heat damaged ends sooner. I transitioned for 2 years and think I could have cut around the 1 year mark and been happy with my decision. My ends were not raggedy (just lifeless) nor breaking, but if I had cut sooner I could have explored so many more styles! IT’S TIME TO LET GO!
I wish someone had told me that an inch or two of heat damage is no big deal. I started off with 6-12 inches of damage. The heat damage weighed my hair down preventing me from trying some styles I loved to see on other women. . Although I’m very grateful for the length now, curly fros and other styles for hair above the shoulders would have been so fun to rock! When faced with the “should I cut” dilemma, look inside yourself and take a leap of faith. Cutting a little more damage than what you’re initially comfortable with will give you a sense of accomplishment.
Again, it’s a personal decision. You can change your mind along the way, or even transition with simply trimming your hair over a number of years. The most important thing to realize is that whatever you do, know that it’s just hair! Don’t allow anyone to make you feel bad for keeping your damaged hair or cutting your hair. If YOU feel confident with your decision go with it!