woman with heat damaged hair
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Quick styling results is something we all look for. When it is all said and done, we pray our gorgeous strands don't suffer from heat damage; we will try any possible concoction before accepting the harsh reality of heat damage. There are many ongoing theories and discussions about correcting heat damaged strands. Understand the facts about heat damage, the falsehood of the myths, and the solutions. 

What is Heat Damage?

Heat Damage is the result of applying excessive heat from a blow dryer, flat iron, or other heat appliances at high temperatures. Our hair strands contain keratin protein which aids in the strength of each strand; when heat appliances are set too high, above 400 degrees, the keratin protein that gives strength begins to melt. Heat Damage alters the pattern and structure of the hair strands on a physical and molecular level which causes the curl to loosen and eventually become limp, straight pieces of hair.

There’s propaganda in the natural community giving women hope that heat damage is reversible.

I always say the first step to recover is acknowledging the problem; however, many believe in the dozens of home remedies that will bring their curls back to life.

  • MythCurls that have been loosened or have become straight from heat can be revived by a protein treatments.
  • Truth: Curls suffering from heat damage  cannot bounce back with the application of a protein treatment because as a result of direct continuous heat, the shaft and cortex are essentially destroyed. Once the strand is dead there’s no revival process; otherwise it would be a zombie hair strand, pun intended. A protein treatment can help with make lightly damaged curls (slightly loosened) appear to have a little more bounce because of its restoration qualities filling in missing areas of the hair shaft. There’s no promise of complete restoration but it gives your curls a reasonable level of hope for maintaining a regular shape and structure (Essence Magazine).

The Recovery Process

Going forward in our hair journeys and our love for the benefits of heat application, we need to make sure we’re going into this potential battle with a plan and some knowledge.

  1. Discontinue using heat: Sometimes we start out saying we’ll use heat occasionally but that’s easier said than done once you achieve perfect volume that’s giving you life thanks to your trusty diffuser. If you find yourself in a place in your hair journey where you're using heat more than 4 times a week, regulate yourself by giving your hair a break. Look for alternatives to achieve that same volume that your diffuser gave you without the heat. Make a plan t go at least 3 months without heat application and you’ll notice a great difference in the overall health of your hair.

  1. Use a Heat Protectant: If you're absolutely against the the idea of not using heat at all in your hair regimen, using a heat protectant with some silicones. Heat protectants help lower the porosity of the hair to protect the cortex and helps reduce moisture loss from the inside of the hair shaft.

  2. Increase Protein Intake: During the time that your hair is trying to revive its luxuriousness, increasing your protein intake will allow for the new growth coming in to be stronger and more resilient to damage. Not only will nourishing your body with protein from the inside help with growth but applying protein from the outside will give your curls some bounce, shine, and strength from the outside, according to Bustle.

  3. Protective Styling: Styling heat damaged hair can be one of the most difficult tasks in hair history; No matter how much gel and product we put on that section of hair for a braid out, it always manages to look like oodles and noodles. Protective styling while suffering from heat damage can make the recovery process easier because it gives your hair the opportunity to be in a at ease while the damage grows out (Ebony Magazine). A few important things to remember while protective styling is to moisturize and nourish your hair and maintain a proper trim schedule to rid your hair of damaged ends.

  4. Patience: Great things come to those who wait and miracles don’t happen overnight. Heat damage recovery could take place from six months to a year; be patient and explore new styles. And if you're feeling extra spontaneous create your own innovative styles to match your swag.

  5. Let it go: Be like Elsa! Sometimes heat damage can be so bad that waiting for it to grow out is heartbreaking because you have to look at it every time your wash your hair. The last time I went to a hairdresser she insisted on straightening my hair and when i went to wash it there were straight ends all over. I reasoned with myself that its only hair and it will grow back soon enough so I cut it myself. Realistically holding on to damaged ends doesn’t benefit anything except an ego. Holding on to damaged ends weighs down on the hair which puts strain on it while its growing; cutting away heat damaged ends will allow the hair to grow back in faster because its not carrying the dead weight of damaged hair (bustle.com). Make peace with yourself, your hair, and the situation and just let those heat damaged ends go.

In the end, heat damaged hair is no good; not for your hair nor yourself.

If heat is a most use to your everyday life, be wise and use protection to prevent the horrid reality of heat damaged and setting hair goals back of because of a simple mistake that could've been avoided. But lastly, always remember healthy hair over damaged hair.