My first bout with hair damage happened when I started flat ironing my hair regularly. Before that, I had been blowing my hair out and primarily wearing it back. I had never taken the time to experiment with a flat iron because I knew that my hair would try to revert back to its curly state and frizz. Then, my friend flat ironed my hair in a way that it was able to last. The only caveat, my hair was being fried and I did not know it. I grew up with my mother keeping it in pigtails and other little girl styles without heat, so I was not fully aware of how badly heat could damage my hair, but boy did I learn.

It may look like your hair won't grow...

Little did I know, it was growing, it was just breaking off at the ends. At first it was all good, but soon I discovered my hair had become the shortest it had ever been and it seemed to not be growing at the same pace. I looked at old pictures and wondered what happened. This was not going to work. I had to try something new, I had to ditch the flat iron and show my hair some TLC. But before I could do that I had one more problem, heat damage.

Turns out, your hair isn't "heat trained"

After regularly using the flat iron, I discovered that my hair was not only breaking off, but it was beginning to be “heat trained,” at least that is what the box of my flat iron said would happen. I honestly thought it was a good thing. I thought it would make my life easier in the long run. Instead of fighting these curls to get them bone straight, I would just glide my strands through the flat iron once or twice and I was done. But when I decided to stop using heat to give my hair some much needed TLC and go natural, my permanently straight strands—scattered throughout my hair—made that very difficult. Sure, my hair was still curly for the most part, but the front sections were straight as were parts of the back section and a few ends. Disaster! What was I to do?

it was beginning to be "heat trained"... I honestly thought it was a good thing.

I took to YouTube, like any logical curly girl would, and started researching what others did to combat this nasty issue. I heard some say it is reversible (false). Others coped with cutting off the damage little by little and doing twist outs—I opted for the latter. I began doing wash and go’s while twisting my damaged sections so that they would blend with the rest of my hair. Secondly, I did a lot of basic twist outs, updos, ponytails, and half updos—all styles that would hide my heat damage and allow it to retain length. With the total elimination of heat on my hair for an entire year, my hair grew like a weed and before I knew it the heat damage was gone and I was back to retaining my length.

If your hair is damaged in anyway, do not give up hope. There is light at the end of the tunnel. It might seem like the longest tunnel in the world, but once you find a solution, it will be over before you know it. I know someone who has extreme heat damage and her hair is practically straight. With a little research, experimentation, and pumping the breaks with the heat, she will get her bouncy curls back and so will you. Just hang in there!

Have you dealt with heat damage? What got you through it?