By Chinwe of Hair and Health

heat training Noun
the loosening of one’s natural curl pattern through the regular application of high heat.  This process is usually gradual and subtle. (Loo’s definition.)

Heat training is essentially a form of heat damage, which is why I have been so against the technique for some years.  However, my thoughts have changed recently since seeing a class of “healthy” heat-trained naturals arise.

“Healthy heat-trained hair” may seem like an oxymoron but I can argue the same with “healthy hair”.  Our strands face damage on a regular basis through sun exposure, styling, washing, detangling, and other forms of wear and tear.  So where do we drawn the line between what is healthy hair and what is not?  I think it reasonable to draw it between hair that is strong and supple (healthy) and that which is breaking and brittle (unhealthy). To me, hair that retains a reasonable level of strength and suppleness is hair that is healthy.  That being said, there is such a thing as heat-trained hair that is strong, supple, … and thus healthy.  However, this is only true for some ladies.  Keep in mind that heat training can work well for some naturals and not so well for others.  For the former group I answer the following question …



1. Easier Detangling …

comes with a loosening of the curl pattern. For some naturals, the mass of curls/coils/kinks makes detangling a very tedious task. Generally, I’d say, “suck it up”, but as my hair has gotten longer, I can truly understand how brutal such a task can be for some naturals.  It can be brutal to the point of mechanical damage (e.g., breakage from impatient combing sessions).

2. Fewer SSKs …

will form if the hair is heat trained.  What is a single-strand knot (SSK)?  It is essentially a knot formed from a strand of hair that has wrapped around itself.  What is an environment conducive to SSKs?  A mass of coils and kinks.  SSKs translate into more trims and sometimes breakage.  Heat training or other hair care steps (read here) can mitigate this issue.

3. Length Retention …

comes with easier detangling and fewer SSKs.  “Proper” heat training can theoretically help some naturals achieve longer lengths.  Will I ever heat train for length retention?  In all honesty, I do not know yet.

4. Increased Versatility …

is another benefit of heat training.  It becomes easier to achieve stretched or straight styles when desired.  Additionally, these styles will last longer.

Ladies, would you consider heat training? In your mind, what are the benefits and disadvantages?


Healthy hair care tips and more!

Leave a Reply

168 Comments on "Are There Any Benefits to Heat Training Natural Hair?"

Notify of

I heat train but never say on natural hair sites. My hair is past my shoulders and I still consider myself natural and others do to. I just think its one of the many benefits of being natural. I can rock it straight one day and curly the next! love it!


Heat-training the hair is like wanting to have your cake and eat it too. Why not just keep your relaxer? All of the benefits mentioned in this article could be used to justify chemically-treated hair. If you don’t want to deal with your curls, then why go natural?

Totally disagree. Heat is NOT the devil that some relaxers make it out to be. Flat ironed/pressed natural hair is most often still healthier than relaxed hair. Period. Before twist outs, wash and gos and braid outs and fros became popular, many natural women wore their natural hair pressed or flat ironed. Now, it does depend on your hair, but I’d much rather risk the potential damage of heat than a chemical relaxer. The key is moderation. Wore pressed hair for 10 years. Worked well for MY hair. I’ve worn my hair curly since 2008 and I’m seriously considering going… Read more »
Jo Somebody
The ‘potential damage’ of heat? Isn’t the whole point of heat training to take advantage of the real damage of heat i.e. the permanent breaking of bonds in the hair? Of course with people who use heat occasionally, if they prepare the hair well, they avoid damage, but that isn’t what this article is about. Also, if straight was the only option with relaxed hair, those of us who transitioned would have look like fools, unless we straightened our growing natural roots. There are many styles that can add texture to relaxed hair. However, I would say that relaxers are… Read more »

“With relaxed hair, straight hair is the only option, unless you texlax or risk potential breakage by going a long time between your relaxers” I’m sorry, but as a relaxed girl, I need to disagree, as I have been wearing my hair in many different styles including different kinds of curly, and I am not texlaxed, nor do I stretch for incredibly long times. I touch up every 12 weeks and I think that moderation is the key to EVERYTHING in life.


Whoops, meant to say that heat is not the devil that some NATURALS make it out to be.


because a relaxer is a cocktail of very strong chemicals? me personally i went natural because i was incredibly uncomfortable with slathering my head with cancerous chemicals once a month. heated tools definately aren’t that.

Sorry, I know that this site is primarily for natural ladies, but as a relaxed girl, I still find lots of useful tips on how to increase the health of my hair and have it grow. I must then however point out that even prior to me going on my hair journey, I never thought it a good idea to relax once a month, and I always cringed at women that did. Yes, it’s a lot of chemicals, but I would rather carefully do a touch up once every 3 months than bring direct heat to my hair once a… Read more »

Totally agree. “Heat-training” more commonly referred to as “damage”.

According to LongHairDontcare2011 in her video titled “#37: What is Heat Training? Should I Heat Train?” she says, “No, don’t use heat traning to change the pattern of your hair, but use heat maybe if you feel like there’s no other way for you to sucessfully grow your hair because without the usage of heat your hair will have either too many splits, too many tangles, or you’ll just grow so frustrated with your hair that you’ll start ripping through it.” She also claims to only use heat about once a month. I’ve watched her videos plenty of times for… Read more »

Because with heat trained hair, you can retain your texture. You can get the best of both worlds. Little to no shrinkage, less knots, and still have the regal beauty of a big thick afro. Honestly, if a person is really good at heat training or texlaxing for looser texture, people don’t even know it has been.

that’s not quite true. the whole idea of heat training is to LOOSEN your texture. it eventually permanently changes the natural texture of your hair. i remember i pressed my hair ONCE for some occasion and after i washed my hair, there were strands that didn’t revert back and remained straight. if i normally wore my hair straight, it would have been fine, as regular application of high heat will do that to your hair over time. it doesn’t mean that heat trained hair (like relaxed hair) will end up splitting and breaking off, but the texture will be different… Read more »
true. i used to use heat on my hair with regularity and my hair grew to BSL effortlessly. But after that i experienced breakage and split ends and had to snip off the length, so 🙁 i’m back at wearing my hair naturally. but when i had a relaxer my MBL hair almost overnight got so badly damaged i ended up transitioning a few months later and never looked back since. based off these two experiences, i’d take my chances with heat training, since i think that you can control a lot better than relaxer damage. And like someone said… Read more »

I agree. I don’t have a problem with naturals that heat train, but if you are going through all the effort you might as well texlax or relax. If it were between an every 8 week process to a once a week process, then it’s going to be the one that takes the least amount of time.


For the most part heat straightened natural hair is still thicker than relaxed hair.