There’s nothing worse than straightening or heat styling your beautiful, naturally curly hair only to discover that you’ve been the victim of heat damage. It’s something that no one wants to hear or see the effects of.
Heat damage occurs when using too much heat on the hair, causing damage to the shaft and loss of your original curl or wave pattern.
What If My Hair Is Already Heat Damaged?
If your hair seems limp, you notice major split ends, your texture is looser than usual, or it remains completely straight after attempting to return to your original curly state, then you’ve likely encountered heat damage. Although there’s no way to revert your hair after it’s been heat damaged, there are several ways to help prevent it.
You may love your current length, but it’s counterproductive to hold onto damaged ends because those pieces of hair aren’t going to become healthy again magically. Simply go to your stylist for a professional trim to get rid of the already-damaged ends. Then, incorporate these tips into your styling routine to maintain healthy hair with the use of heat.
Tip 1: Blow Out Hair First
You should never use heat styling tools on wet or damp hair; however, with natural hair, it’s extremely helpful to stretch the hair as much as possible before flat ironing. To help use your flat iron as few times as possible on each section, blow out/dry the hair first using a blow dryer and brush.
Be mindful of the temperature of your blow dryer because it also uses heat. Medium heat is a great default temperature to use with a final “cool shot” to set your blow out and seal the cuticle.
Recommendation: T3 Micro Featherweight 2 Compact Blow Dryer, $150
Tip 2: Use a Heat Protectant
Prior to using any heat styling tools, apply a heat protectant to your hair. Heat protectants come in many forms, from sprays to serums, so you can choose the formula that works best for you and the style you’re trying to achieve.
For perm rod or flexi rod sets, try a styling foam that also doubles as a heat protectant before sitting under a hooded or bonnet dryer.
For silk presses where a flat or curling iron will be used, try a serum or spray on dry sections, but be sure to let the heat protectant dry before applying your heat styling tool of choice to prevent frying the hair.
Recommendations: Eva NYC Get Glossed Hair Serum, $15; Vernon Francois Light Weight~Styling Serum, $28
Tip 3: Set on Low Temperature and Flat Iron with One Pass
Setting your styling tools to a moderate temperature is best for preventing heat damage rather than the absolute highest. While heat protectants are a must-have no matter your hair type, your hair could still be damaged by attempting to straighten with such high temperatures.
Depending upon your hair type, as well as whether it’s colored or chemically treated, it’s important to consider the temperature. Fine hair may require a setting less than 300 degrees, whereas coarse hair may be able to endure higher settings. Colored and chemically treated hair will need to be straightened on a lower heat setting.
If you can help it, pass through small sections of blown-out hair with your flat iron only once. The less you can pass the flat iron through your hair, the better. This is why it helps to stretch and blow out the hair straight first. Without detangling or stretching the hair first, you may see the need to do multiple passes, which means using even more heat.
Recommendations: Sedu Professional 1.5” Styling Iron, $80
Tip 4: Wrap to Maintain
While your hair is straightened, it’s best to maintain it and take care of your new style so you’re not forced to continue applying heat each day. Wrapping with a silk or satin scarf helps keep the hair straight for several days after styling.
Find more tips and tricks for healthy, natural hair on the Ogle School blog!