Africa Miranda 700 top

Image via Africa Miranda

Africa Miranda has always been known for her big hair and big personality, which she’ll showcase to great effect starting today when her new show launches on Facebook Watch. The web series “The Africa Miranda Show” will offer viewers the best in celebrity interviews, beauty and lifestyle.

The actress, singer, author, social media influencer, and self-proclaimed hairnista is completely open when it comes to her hair journey and regimen. So when her luscious curls endured heat damage, she was careful to document her road to hair recovery. During a paid gig, and at the hands of a trusted stylist, heat was applied to her hair without her knowledge. Years later, after wearing wigs, clip-ins, and eventually chopping off the damaged hair, Africa finally internalized the phrase, “I am not my hair.”

Africa Miranda’s hair pre-heat damage | Image via Africa Miranda

It can be hard for one to let go of her length after experiencing heat damage. The natural hair community has a heavy infatuation with big curls and long hair. When your hair no longer falls into those categories, what do you do?

“I wasn’t ready to commit to a full-on big chop so I essentially started my natural hair journey all over again, the same way I had done the first time I transitioned. If I’m being honest, I was so miserable,” Africa reveals. “I realized during that process that I had to face some issues I had about beauty, black hair, and things that maybe I preached about but didn’t necessarily believe.”

“I was a huge advocate of embracing and loving yourself no matter what, but I didn’t I love my hair. It wasn’t a texture issue, but I realize I was heavily invested in the fact that my hair was considered long and my entire life I wanted long hair,” she adds. “Once I finally went natural, I got it, and then it was gone. In the natural community we definitely highlight or obsess over certain types of hair. Big hair, long hair, showing how much our hair can stretch etc. I realized that I had really bought into that and put a lot value on that standard of beauty.”

Learning to love your hair after it is damaged can be tough. We have become so attached to holding onto the beauty of our hair that we lose our identity when it’s not as luxurious as we want it to be. The road to hair recovery can be a long one. It takes a lot of experimentation with styles and tons of patience.

“I started protective styling every couple of months. I would cut off 2 to 3 inches and I continued that for about a year until all of the damaged hair was gone. I started forcing myself to wear my hair in twist-outs, and different styles. I focused on wearing my hair at the length that it was because when I transitioned the first time, I didn’t do that,” Miranda recalls.

Miranda has learned so much about overcoming heat damage since her transition, and she generously shared her top tips with us:

  1. Accept that you have to cut your hair. There is no way of saving it. The hair is damaged and it’s going to break off. Your hair may still be long, but it’s going to be thin and stringy if you don’t cut it.
  2. Protein treatments and deep conditioning are necessary to strengthen your hair. You’re going to absolutely need protein treatments and deep conditioners to hydrate your hair and get it healthy again.
  3. Be patient. This takes time. There is no quick fix or overnight miracle that is going to bring your hair back.
  4. Have fun. Try new styles. Wigs, weaves, clip-ins, turbans, hats. Go for it! You’re going to have to find new ways to play with your hair.
  5. Acceptance. I needed to have a ‘come to Jesus’ moment with myself about beauty, acceptance, standards of beauty, hair, length, and texture. I never would’ve done it if this hadn’t happened to my hair. I also had to let go of this fascination I had with long hair. It doesn’t matter. I had to let it go.

Now that Miranda has fully recovered from heat damage, she’s using her platform to spread the message of self-love and acceptance.

“One of the things that is so important to me is making women feel happy with themselves. When your life is lived in front of people and your job depends on how you look, you can develop all kinds of complexes about your age, skin, hair, and body,” she says. “It’s something that I struggle with and I have come really far to overcome. I want to help create a space for women to do that on my Facebook series. It’s really about helping people discover the best versions of themselves.”

Recovering from heat damage can be a life-changing experience. Sounds dramatic, but it can cause you to confront a lot of feelings regarding how you feel about yourself and your hair. For some, chopping off dead hair is easy. It’s hair, it’ll grow back. For others, it is a process of letting go of what you define as beautiful. For Miranda, heat damage allowed her to confront and re-adjust the love she had for her hair.

What about you? Have you experienced heat damage before? If so, was the process of letting it go easy or difficult for you?