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Heat is not the only thing that can damage hair. Damage can occur from various forms and from the very things we do to care for our curls. It can be hard to identify the cause, but it is necessary to finding the solution. DomiCurls from Curly Q&A  inquired about hair damage to the top of her hair,  which is something many tend to suffer from.

Question

Why do I have damaged hair when I hardly straighten it? I only sometimes straighten the top but most of my top layers are damaged even though I don’t straighten them.

Answer

Sometimes we make assumptions about our hair damage, but making an honest assessment about what we were or are doing is the only way to find out what’s going on. Damage can occur for many reasons, so looking at what you are doing to your hair will answer this question for you.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but heat damage can happen the very first time you use direct heat.

3 Ways you might be damaging your hair

1. Heat styling

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but heat damage can happen the very first time you use direct heat. It can even occur with a heat protectant. The heat appliance can be too hot. Other problems some face is using heat styling options too often or keeping the tool on the hair too long. If you smell burning hair when applying heat, that is your hair not the products.

How hot should your heat tool be?

We recommend using the lowest possible heat setting that can work for your hair while passing the flat iron over your hair just once or twice. The experts at Folica recommend customizing the temperature of your flat iron based on your hair type. To take this one step further, they also recommend using "different temperatures on different parts of your hair: cooler near your face where hair is fine and hotter wherever your hair is thickest and strongest."

  • Coarse or thick hair: 380°F and above
  • Wavy or curly hair: 350°F – 370°F
  • Medium thickness or straight-ish hair: 330°F – 350°F
  • Thin hair: 300°F – 330°F
  • Fragile or fine hair: 240°F – 300°F
  • Synthetic hair lowest available setting

Heat damage is irreversible but conditioning treatments and trims will help in the meantime if you are not ready to chop it all off as a result. Heat damaged hair can be masked by using perm rods, pin curls, or twisting to mirror the non-heat damaged areas. Roller sets allow for uniform curls too.

2. Hair color

Many of us color our hair, and even though this is a damaging process, we do not realize the damage can be lasting. If we do not care for our hair properly after a permanent color treatment, weakened hair from the color (especially bleaching) will only become increasingly dry and prone to breakage. There are special hair products for color-treated hair because they have extra conditioners, proteins, and moisturizers to help get the hair back into a healthy state.

3. A protein-moisture imbalance

Textured hair needs proper protein-moisture balance. If your hair is limp and lifeless it needs protein. If it is dry, brittle, and hard it needs moisture. Keeping hair in a level balance between protein and moisture allow for healthy hair that combats breakage.

Read more: Do You Over Moisturize Your Hair? Understanding Hygral Fatigue 

4. Neglecting trims

Trims are a necessary evil that many women put off because they want to retain length, but those ends are the oldest hair with the most manipulation and when they are ready to go they need to be gone! Holding onto raggedy, brittle ends can create split ends and frizz and make your hair look bad. Trimming allows for better styling and less knots.

Fix the problem

While you cannot restore damaged hair to its virgin, healthy state, there are things you can do to minimize further damage and give your hair a healthier appearance. When your hair is damaged, reassess your regimen, steer clear of heat and chemical treatments, get a trim or haircut, and deep condition after every wash. Make sure you are keeping hair moisturized and sealed. Thoroughly apply moisturizing products on your hair, concentrating on your ends and damaged areas. You should be seeing a difference in no time.

Read more: 3 Kinds of Damage that Loosen Your Curl