Most naturals spend hours contemplating and agonizing over the process of straightening and stretching their hair, only to end up with Heat Damage. It's dreadful. It's the single most-feared reason why I have not applied heat to my hair in nearly 6 years. Yes! You can burn your hair, just like you can burn your skin. Using excessively high temperatures on your heating tools will weaken your strands by breaking down the Keratin, a fibrous protein that makes up the upper layer of hair which helps our hair keeps its natural form (be it curly, wavy, kinky or coily).
Once the Keratin layer is damaged, your hair may be left feeling stringy, dry, brittle, weakened and you may even experience some breakages or excessive shedding. Your Porosity level may change from Normal to High because the hair cuticles that use to lay semi-flat (Normal Porosity Level) are now wide-open (High Porosity Level), which allows moisture to escape, hence the reason your hair is so dry.
The awful truth is there's little to no sure ways to reverse frying your hair. So the most common way of "fixin it" is to chop off the weaken strands. I know hearing this may have felt like a Sucker-punch to the belly but fear not! There is hope! Here are my 3 successful tricks to help preserve your curls.
1. GO HEAT-FREE!
Let's get this out there, first! HEAT-FREE is the ONLY guaranteed way to avoid damaging your fro. That's why my 1st tip is a HEATLESS one.
Whether prepping your hair for a protective style installation or you're just eager to rock some length, I recommend trying this heatless option.
Use the cool temperature setting on your blow dryer to stretch those curls. Apply a light moisturizer to your hair. Section off your hair into 6 to 8 smaller sections. Use your Flexi-Detangling Brush and proceed to stretch each section. Although this process won't stretch your hair to its fullest length, it's a sure way to protect against heat damage and gain some Hang-time.
2. HEAT PROTECTANT
Let's face it, using HEAT will give you the best results! Heating tools such as flat irons stretches your hair to its fullest length, converting your fro into a shiny, soft, silky, flowy, bouncy lovely bunch of beautifulness! Seeing your hair transform from a Big Ole Fro to sleek, silky tresses is tempting. So if you've got to use heat, you might as well know your best bet is to apply a Heat Protectant before blow-drying or flat-ironing. Heat protectants are available in the forms of sprays, serums, oils, and creams. Heat Protectants create a barrier of protective moisture between your strands & your styling tools, this aids to prevent over-processing your hair.
When shopping for a good heat protectant, look for ingredients such as Silicon, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein & Quaternary 70. These 3 items add moisture, helps prevent hair breakage, combats frizz and reduce the chances of damaging your hair.
3. GET PROFESSIONAL HELP
If you are getting your hair straightened professionally, I highly recommend consulting with your stylist to gain clarity on the process in which she/he uses. During this conversation ask your stylist their POV about using a heat protectant. Inquire about the brand they prefer to use. Make sure it contains those 3 major ingredients I mentioned earlier; Silicon, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein & Quaternary 70.
You may also request for him or her to lower the temperature on their straightening tool. Ultimately if the stylist will not agree to your terms or is unfamiliar with using Heat Protectant, be prepared to bring your own to the appointment or continue your search for a stylist who meets your needs.
Here are some signs that may indicate that your hair has heat-damage:
Your hair smells burnt after shampooing it.
After shampooing, you may find noticeably straight or stringy pieces throughout your hair.
Your curls do not revert immediately.
Your hair does not retain moisture.
Your hair tangles and mattes easily.
Your hair may feel hard or brittle or mushy.
As I mentioned, reversing heat damage can be nearly impossible, especially if the damage is server. But before you reach for the scissors, assess your hair thoroughly. You may find that the damage isn't as harsh as expected. You may be able to save your curls. Try incorporating these methods to help manage the damage and keep your un-damaged hair healthy until you are ready for a trim.
Avoid Heat as much as possible.
Use a good Clarifying Shampoo to cleanse your hair every 2 weeks.
Deep Condition bi-weekly to nourish your hair.
Apply moisturizing products twice a week to prevent excessive dryness.
Protein Treatments Helps to restore Keratin which fill/seal open cuticles along the shaft of your hair strands. Sealing your cuticles is an ideal way to help keep your hair moisturized.
Opt for low-maintenance Protective Styles to avoid further damage.
Periodically trim fragile, dead ends.