Sometimes, it be like that.

By Christina of The Mane Objective

There is a lot of support for ladies transitioning from relaxers, but I can’t completely identify with their struggles. I wanted to do this post to support the ladies who have managed to steer clear of the creamy crack, but overdosed on the heat. Transitioning in a new crop of hair from the heat damaged stuff can be challenging, frustrating, and discouraging. Hopefully this post will shed some light and provide some help.

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My scalp is schizophrenic.

I know somebody out there understands the sheer frustration of having multiple hair textures going on, especially in that transition from heat damaged to 100% healthy hair. Somewhere between my heat damage, new growth, and my scalp’s own identity crisis, I have about 4 textures going on in my head. Each texture likes to annoy me in its own special little way — my super straight left side refuses to naturally curl, my right side forms perfect ringlets (but makes my hair look lopsided, juxtaposed against the left), the front of my hair likes to wave instead of curl…and my crown has a mind of its super-coarse own. With that being said, I have learned that the “n’ go” part of a wash n’ go is actually a no-go for me.

As I have spent the last 6 or so months transitioning from self-inflicted heat damage (not my proudest moments), I have adopted a styling routine that allows me to coddle and slowly clip my heat damaged ends while playing to my hair’s strengths. Sometimes, I even opt for a style that gives me a sense of pattern uniformity. A successful heat damage transition rests upon understanding the following things about your hair:

    • If your hair is heat damaged, your original curl/texture will not return, no matter what you do. When hair is heat damaged, the protein structures in it are melted – irreversibly. This differs from relaxed hair, where straightness is achieved through a breaking, swelling, and realignment of bonds within the cortex of the hair itself.
    • Although not chemically altered, heat damaged hair is still weaker than your normal, healthy head of hair. In my humble opinion, heat damaged hair may be slightly stronger than relaxed hair. (Please note that this is just my opinion, based upon my own observations of my heat damage vs. those I know with relaxers). This is not to say that you have clearance to treat your heat damage any ol’ kind of way, but more so that your chances for length retention in a successful transition are more likely to occur if the proper steps are taken.

  • Not all hairstyles are meant for heat damage transitioners. Stick to what looks good on you, and what your hair responds best to. That’s the best way to maintain sanity along the ride. A little further down in this post, I’ll discuss what styles have and have not worked for me.
  • Treat your textures differently. My healthy new hair requires a lot more moisture and heavier sealing than the heat damaged stuff does. Therefore, I’ll moisturize with my leave-in spray and seal with something heavy, like Shea Moisture Coconut Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie. My heat damaged hair has a finer texture, and I can get away with leave-in spray and aloe vera.

Now that we have set the foundation for understanding heat damaged hair, let’s move on to the fun part: styling!

I have attempted many styles – some with success, others with complete failure. But hey, that’s the learning curve. As I mentioned previously, some styles do not look good on heat damaged hair. Those styles for me were:

  1. Mini-Twists: Heat damage hair tends to have a tapering effect. The hair closest to your scalp is generally the thickest, and sections get smaller and smaller as you get closer to the ends of the hair. Mini-twists left me feeling like my hair was thinner than it actually was.
  2. Chunky Braids: Because of the tapering effect mentioned, chunky braids never worked for me. Not to mention my hair is layered, and braids would become progressively shorter the closer I got to my face.
  3. Chunky Twists: Ever notice how healthy, natural hair “stays put” for the most part, when it is twisted… all the way to the ends (a’ la Naptural85)? Heat damaged hair, well at least my heat damaged hair, tends to unravel at the ends – forcing me to use scrunchies. This is fine for a night-time set to get cute waves for the next day, but as a style it doesn’t work for me. I am a full-time Director for a Non-Profit Program. Walking around with multicolored scrunchies is not in my cards.

 

Styles that do work for heat damaged hair, that blend, conceal, or make the most of my multiple textures have been:

Bantu Knot-Outs

I covered this one a while ago, and you can catch all the detailed instructions here. Sure, they’re a pain to sleep in, but the inconvenience pales in comparison to the cute super tight (or super loose, depending on how big your knots are) ringlets you emerge with. Perfect camouflage for multiple textures — it stretches my more shrink-prone textures while giving definition to my straighter side.

Braid-Outs

Braid outs are probably the least complicated of all the prep practices, and will produce anything from tiny crinkles to gentle waves, depending on how small are large your braids are. Just prep with your favorite moisturizing product(s), braid, cover, and undo the next morning!

Flat Twists

Admittedly, I am still trying to master this one. Since flat twisting is just like cornrows (with two pieces of hair instead of three), I pretty much suck at it. Even with my sub-par twisting skills, I manage to get some great, cooperative curly waves all over, instead on just 1/4 of my head.

Flexi-Rods

They are a complete and utter pain to sleep in (worse than the Bantu Knots), and you definitely have to take the time to learn how to get your hair around the rod correctly to achieve the uniform curls you seek. But once you do all that, the result is well worth it.

Buns

The boring bad guy of the bunch. I resort to bunning as my go-to protective style 80% of the time. Sometimes I’ll mix it up and do a hump-thingie in the front, or a flat-twist crown around my hairline. Buns are definitely great for me, and make the transition from work to gym time seamless. I usually wear a twist or braid out on weekends, and use the manufactured texture from those to add some definition to my buns throughout the week.

What are some of your go-to transitioning styles?

Christina Patrice

Born, raised, and living in Los Angeles, Christina is BGLH's resident transitioning expert and product junkie. In addition to loving all things hair, she is a fitness novice and advocate of wearing sandals year-round. For more information on transitioning, natural hair, and her own hair journey, visit maneobjective.com. Or, if you like pictures follow Christina on Instagram @maneobjective.

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54 Comments on "5 Transitioning Styles for Heat Damaged Hair"

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Aisha Hall

Do you have permission to use my cousin’s pic for your blog? Because I am sure you do not. She does not over process or relax her hair and from the pic you can see she has very healthy hair. Also she is Puerto Rican so using her pic for a black girl long hair post does not apply to her.

Rena

FYI – Your cousin is a black Puerto Rican. Have you ever been to Puerto Rico?!

malikah

Hello my daughter is 10 she had a nice grade of hair semi curly she loved doobies but she would get blow outs because her hair would frizz up… So my cousin suggested that I put a dream kids relaxer in her hair.. That was the worst thing I could have done it stripped her texture now her hair is nappy.. I’m living with regrets I hate myself for putting that in her hair.. Is there anything that I can do to bring her texture back?? ????????????????.. PLEASE HELP MEEEEE… AND PLEASE NO RUDE FEEDBACK I FEEL BAD ENOUGH…

On screen I'm Nifa Dean
On screen I'm Nifa Dean
First things first- enough with the texture dissing. The texture you’re referring to is not ‘nappy’ or ‘bad hair’. Everyone has good hair, it’s about how you care for and style it. Damage can be reversed by using protein treatments, depending on the type of damage. Girls with heat damage have been known to use Palmer’s coconut protein treatment or aphogee two step protein treatment. However, a relaxer, as far as I am aware from my own experience, is permanent. You cannot reverse it. The only thing to do is wait for it to grow out again, and gradualy cut… Read more »
malikah

Thank u ???????? I feel so bad that I stripped her natural texture… Guess the only thing to do now is to properly treat it… Again thank you

Selam

I have a question for anyone who can answer. I had heat damage on my bangs and they went pin straight. When I realized what was happening I stopped using heat. However when my hair started to grow back, it wasn’t curly anymore but coarse. I have done everything now for over a year and nothing. Has this every happened to anyone or know how i can get my curls back??

Debora
SO FRUSTRATING! Seriously have been looking for an article like this, to reassure someone else feels my pain. Two years ago I did a major chop which left me with a bob hairstyle (it was cute for a while) however, It got old and as a result, I decided to take the all natural, curly route. Within a few months my hair began growing extremely fast, as it tends to, but also extremely thick, which regardless the heat-damage circumstances it was in before, was very different. Fast forward a year and some later, I made the mistake of letting a… Read more »
Mel Stevens

I think any process we do on our hair, if it involves chemicals, it’s seriously damaging. I recommend using the pro naturals hair repair system to get it back to normal. I love everythign about it, the smell is soft and it leaves the hair shiny too!

Jacki

This is what we need – an insight to make evrnoyee think

Candice
I came across this article/blog when I googled “heat damaged hair.” I have the EXACT same issues with my multi-textured hair. My right side such soft coils (reminiscent of my hair when I was a child – before all the damage), my left side tried to curl like its counterpart, but just can’t quite match up (it is definitely heat damaged), my crown has a complete mind of its own, not sure i it wants to be dry, brittle, coarse and somewhat wavy mess, mixed in with Z shaped pattern (all in their own direction, not defined in any way).… Read more »
Candice

Yikes, I should’ve totally proofread first! Please excuse the (many) errors 🙂

ProtectivePrincess

Nice article! Back in 2011, I had to “big chop” for the 3rd because of heat damage. My original texture was 4C. When my hair was heat damaged, I had textures ranging from 3a-4c, yikes! It was devastating, but I learned my lesson. That’s when I learned to embrace my texture. I devoted myself to coming up with cute protective styles that I felt good about wearing out in the public.

Kandis
I’ve been transitioning from heat damaged hair for almost 3 years now. My favorite styles have been twist outs or “twist ins”. My twist styles (whether out or in) were weird at first because heat damaged hair doesn’t curl on their own well but I got creative and found ways to get around it. I would curl the ends my self with soft rollers that way they’d look normal in the morning before going about my day. Once I felt confident enough, I would clip my ends more often so my ends would eventually curl on its own. I don’t… Read more »
brynisha
I’m trying to figure out why my kids fathers older daughter who is mixed has hair that won’t hold a curl when dry. I don’t know the history fully on her hair but I do know that her mother doesn’t take care of it and wont take the time to learn. She is growing up and as she gets older I know she’ll want to wear her hair down so I experimented on it by applying a curl enhancing product to it while it was wet. It looked pretty good at the time but after it dried, it looked fuzzy/frizzy.… Read more »
maria
Then you should talk to your stepdaughter’s mom. Saying these things about her mom will not change anything. Just talk to the mom in a nice and friendly way. some people still need to be educated and will never know if you say such things behind her back. She’s ten. You should ask the mom her hair history instead of her. And you know how things go in the end. The child might get the impression that you are trying to blame her mom for her hair not being healthy. It’s still a ten year old girl who for sure… Read more »
Ashley
Until about my freshmen year in high school I’ve always had insanely curly hair but of course due to straightening I have experienced heat damage. My hair was completely straight, fried, and frizzy. After about 8 months of natural, 3 of straightening, and now maybe month 2 of natural again I’ve found hairstyles that work for me and play up what I do have. My curls are coming back but taking their sweet time. My ends of my hair are very straight but all new growth is curly ringlets. My hair is growing a lot and I have no split… Read more »
kayla
I’m 16 and have decided to go natural. I don’t have a perm but I straighten my hair a lot. I’ve straightened it so much it won’t revert to its natural curl pattern. Over the past year I have slowly removed most of my heat damage but a couple of weeks ago I straightened my hair with a ton of product in it (I was pressed for time and needed a neat look). Now most of my hard work went down the drain. Most of the heat damage is in the front the rest of my hair looks pretty healthy… Read more »
I wear a weave but Im a 100% natural under these wefts
I wear a weave but Im a 100% natural under these wefts

The only time I apply heat to my hair is when the stylist install a full head weave in my head. And that heat is the blow dryer. And I only get my hair blowed dried twice a year.

maria

me too

nikki

Came upon this article after googling heat damaged hair. I stopped perming my 3 years ago and have been braiding my hair ever since or leaving it out naturally. Today I decided to get my hair straightened and was womdering if I should do so on a regular basis. I guess now that doing so wouldn’t be a good idea. It’s actually quite funny since my hair looked exactly like the picture shown above when I was getting it straightened.

naturalhairrocks

Very helpful article as I find myself with mild heat damaged land.My hair has reverted I just have a few stubborn ends and my pattern overall appears a little looser.

I have learnt my lesson and will not straighten my hair until July.I will nurse back to curls with protein n moisture masks and those ends r not responding then I will consider trimming.

Hansy

One of the reasons why I stop relaxing was because I just hate to use heat in my hair. I haven’t used any heat in 3 months and I am loving it.

maria

Even when I was relaxing (until 4 years ago)I almost never used heat to dry my hair. I just washed my hair when I knew I wasn’t going anywhere. I roller set my hair and left the rollers in all day, while doing my work at home. Only when I went to the hairdresser every 10 weeks a dryer was used.

Marie
Hi, I wanted to give a little bit of my story. Firstly Heat Damage is Real. I have had natural hair all my life and when I was young my mother would take good care of my hair, even when she straightened my hair. So when I became a teen I needed to take care of my own hair and I didn’t know how. So I straightened my hair ever other day. I wanted to keep it straight. I didn’t know you could have heat damage. That word was not even in my vocabulary and no one around me ever… Read more »
Nifa Dean
That first sentence almost made me want to break down. I’m heat damaged, but when I told my Mom, she told me that was nonsense. We’ve actually had arguments. She has waved a hot-comb in my face, saying a flat iron could never get as hot as the the hot comb- that what I’m saying is crazy. There’s no way afro hair could get ‘damaged’ by heat. My Mom cannot get on board with my ‘healthy hair’ practices. The products I use- she can’t understand what they are for, or why I buy them. I want to do me, but… Read more »
Rachel

Thank you so much for this article. After wearing sewins with the front of my hair out my hair is now straight in the front and it will only wave when wet. And recently I have been getting blowouts and the left side of my hair has really relaxed curls while the right side of my hair has tight healthy curls. I flat twist my hair in the front and two strand the rest (using natural85′ s technique) it helps mask the “uneveness.” I am going to try to keep away from heat. Thanks for the great article!

Tabatha

Girl you are speakingmy language! I have relaxer and heat damage and I’m goin gthrough transition and it has been rough! I do the little twist backs and then secure the hair with bobby pins as my protective style, but I could do braid out or the flat twist on a weekened. Thanks.

Chasity
I’m do happy someone could explain the “melted part of my protein structure.” Finally a decent answer besides just HEAT DAMAGE! Because my hair still looks healthy, it’s more silky and shiny, it just won’t revert. I hear protein treatments are good for it and I tried it and it worked. Yogurt, Egg and a few other things(naptural 85 protein treatment). Also the cherry Lola I’m gonna try after a couple of protein treatments. Clarifing washes, too. I think there really hasn’t been enough research to say that it’s irreversible. And I hate the words heat damaged. I’ve fried my… Read more »
Camille Chatman
I am currently growing out hair that, in my my opinion is damaged by heat. The problem is, that my new growth is so curly, and teh ends are so striaght, I end up with an afro by the roots and the ends do not curl or crinkle from the flat twist, braid outs or twist outs that I have attempted. I am going to focus on perfecting the bantu know, but does anyone know what I may be doing wrong to end up with th afro at the roots and a slight wave on the ends. PLEASE HELP!
Sharon
My hair would never grow long even in my younger days. It would grow a certain length, then stopped. I’m in my 30s and have finally figured out what I was doing wrong. I was overperming and using too much heat on my hair. I also wasn’t doing protein and moisturizing treatments. My routine now is to wash once a week and alternate with either a protein or moisturizing treatment. After I perm my hair, I always follow up with a protein treatment a few days later. I also perm my hair every 8-10 weeks. My hair looks pretty rough… Read more »
Patricia Kayden

Great article. Didn’t know that heat could also badly damage hair. Now transitioning to no heat natural hair.

Monique
Thank you for not cutting all your hair off and taking the easy way out!!! I went to my friends hairdresser for a wedding trial hairstyle and when I washed my hair I could have sworn she put some relaxer in it…I’ve been doing no heat for every 3 months and protective styling for a year just to get my hair to grow for my wedding and one trip to the salon took everything away from me 🙁 but I don’t plan on cutting, I’ve had it all cut before and I promised myself to never go through it again!!… Read more »
Kendra
I feel your pain! I had been transitioning from heat damage in the front portion of my hair which left me with multiple textures and split ends for a year. For a full year, I trimmed my ends once per month an avoided ALL heat styling and did protective styles a majority of the time. I finally was free of the damage in March of this year and in April I got cast for a hair commercial and the stylist burnt another front section of my hair COMPLETELY straight. I have a full fro with a straight bang. I was… Read more »
Rachel
Hi all 🙂 Thanks for this article! I’m dealing with this myself right now… I flat ironed my hair a few weeks back (for the first time in a year) and I have some strands that won’t go back. Well, they’re not going back at this moment, at least. Some are straight, and some are a looser curl pattern. So until it grows out that means buns and bantu knots for me. On the flip side of it though, having to stick to buns and bantu knots might work out for me, seeing as these are protective styles, which generally… Read more »
Kim
I JUST did a post on my blog about this. I never had a relaxer, but after flat ironing monthly, my texture was defintely changing. My hair wasn’t really “damaged” per se, but my curl pattern was definitely looser after applying heat. I hated that, so I opted to only straighten for trims which is about 2 to 3 times a year. Since I’ve stopped straigtening as often, my hair has thrived and my curl pattern in my new growth has remained in tact. I’m still able to do wash n’ go’s but I have to “scrunch” the bottoms to… Read more »
Dana

SN: I’m so glad I have only one texture of hair on my head. My 1 texture drives me crazy enough. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I had several AND be transitioning, recovering from heat damage, etc. I’m sure ya’ll ladies need an award for patience.

stephanie

unless your ends are split or there is breakage, heat damage is not damage, lol

Belle

But it is irreversible, right? The curls can never come back. That’s damage in my opinion. 🙁

Dana

I agree with Belle. In my younger days, if I fried my hair too hard, no amount of water was bringing it back and that is not cute. It is damaged.

Loni

I think it depends. My friend had some heat damage on her hair, and her curl pattern loosened. And her hair isn’t falling out, its still shiny and looks health. I guess it depends on how much heat you use, once or twice a week is okay, but everyday will definitely stop your hair from reverting back! 🙂

stephanie

then it’s just irreversible until the roots grow out. I just feel like heat damage is the wrong term. I’ve been hearing it so much when the hair is not damaged and healthy. Just one more thing to obsess about I feel.

Nat

Great post! I’ve been perm free for 4years after 3years with a perm which I got after my natural hair got badly heat damaged. However, for those 4 years the flat iron was my hair’s best friend until I decided to be heat-free 2 months ago. I like working with bantu knots because they’re a style I can work with throughout the week.

S
OMG, this article basically sums up my hair journey right now! I have all the same issues. After 3 years of being natural, one day I just decided I wanted to wear my hair straight for a while (just for a change of pace), and went overboard with the constant flat ironing. I also wasn’t taking any protective measures when straightening it (like using a heat protectant,or using lower heat settings)….the heat damage got to the point my hair literally will not curly AT ALL! So now I’m back at square one with transitioning. 8 months into no-heat transitioning and… Read more »
Toni

Mine was heat and color damaged. I have the same issues. I still sport twists, I use a perm rod at the ends of the hair at the front of my face to keep the ends together. I also get a curly q effect when I take them out in the morning.

Belle

OMG FINALLY A POST FOR ME! I never hear anything about heat damage! Just transitioning from perms! Thanks for this. It is good to know I am not the only one goin through this! Good luck with your healthy hair journey!!!

Jae Mac
Christina, Thanks for sharing, my daughter’s hair became extremely heat damaged due to the Egyptian hair straightening process (very HOT blow drying technique).At first we loved the silkiness of it, but soon realized that her hair was shedding and unable to revert back to its natural curly state. The mini twists didn’t work for her either, but we are having luck with the Bantu knots and flexi rods. Braids continued to shed her hair. We’ve since found a stylist who specializes in natural hair. It took a year to damage it, I hope the worse is now over.The shedding has… Read more »
Tameka

This has been most informative for me! I even appreciate the use of language and imagery you used as it describes me perfectly. I have about 90 textures of hair myself (this week at the beach proved it!) It has been most frustrating as I’m afraid to leave the “HEAT”. My flat iron and hair are both “burnt out” and I think it’s time to properly take care of my natural hair… I’m just afraid 🙁

Thanks for this post!

morg

buns!

sherelle

I have trouble with the heat damage at the moment and right now I got cornrows in to avoid straighning my hair and let it grow. But I need to get the ends trimmed but does any one know if pure shea butter is good for damaged hair

sparkspop

Raw Shea butter works great for me but not for others. Definitely worth trying.

sherelle

ok thank you i will try that and i have used natural oils on my hair such as lavender oil and rose mary oils

AS82

I do those styles and my hair isn’t heat damaged 🙂

upupupu

so what?

Runawaygal©

Hey! Dont be rude to her…

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