By Chin­we (pic­tured above) of Hair and Health

So you are inter­est­ed in using heat – be it blow-dry­ing or flat-iron­ing – but you are ter­ri­fied of destroy­ing your healthy hair.  You have heard too many hor­ror sto­ries about split ends and per­ma­nent­ly straight strands result­ing from heat usage.

The truth of the mat­ter is that heat usage does not have to be so scary as long as you know your hair and know its lim­its.  Addi­tion­al­ly, a high-mois­ture, high-strength, mod­er­ate-heat rou­tine is nec­es­sary to min­i­mize dam­age.

The fol­low­ing reg­i­men is a good start­ing point for those who are ready to incor­po­rate heat styling into their hair care rou­tine.  How­ev­er, if you can answer “yes” to any of the fol­low­ing ques­tions, then I encour­age you leave heat usage alone for now: Is your hair cur­rent­ly dam­aged?  Is your hair brit­tle or weak?  Is your hair new­ly col­ored or bleached?

1. Wash with a gentle or moisturizing shampoo.

With a heat-styling reg­i­men, it is real­ly impor­tant to main­tain mois­tur­ized strands, even dur­ing the wash­ing process.  Use of a strip­ping, dry­ing sham­poo will trans­late into more effort spent after­wards restor­ing what was lost.  On the oth­er hand, use of a gen­tle sham­poo will retain that mois­ture, and depend­ing on the pro­duct, add more mois­ture and a bit of con­di­tion­ing. Gen­tle sham­poos usu­al­ly con­tain mild (rather than harsh) cleans­ing agents.  Mois­tur­iz­ing sham­poos are usu­al­ly gen­tle sham­poos that also con­tain light con­di­tion­ing ingre­di­ents.

2. Deep condition with a moisturizing protein conditioner.

Fol­low­ing up with a deep pro­tein con­di­tion­er is essen­tial to rein­force the hair shaft for manip­u­la­tion and heat usage.  How­ev­er, for those who are pro­tein sen­si­tive or have issues with pro­tein-mois­ture bal­ance, find­ing the right deep con­di­tion­er can be a chal­lenge.  A great option is to try one with the dual role of strength­en­ing (via a pro­tein) and mois­tur­iz­ing.  Such con­di­tion­ers will gen­er­al­ly con­tain a hydrolyzed pro­tein (e.g., ker­at­in, col­la­gen) for rein­force­ment and humec­tants (e.g, glyc­er­in) for mois­ture reten­tion.

3. Quick condition with a silicone-based conditioner (optional).

This step is ide­al for those who desire strands that are more man­age­able (e.g., eas­ier comb­ing, less tan­g­ly) and smoother for heat styling.  Also, if your hair is too hard after the above deep con­di­tion­ing step, this quick con­di­tion may help to soft­en it.

4. Moisturize with a light water-based product and then seal.

This is your final mois­tur­iz­ing step pri­or to apply­ing heat to your hair.  You can sim­ply apply a good oil/butter-based sealant to your damp, con­di­tioned hair OR after apply­ing a light water-based mois­tur­iz­er.  Try to avoid prod­ucts con­tain­ing humec­tants in order to delay rever­sion and frizz.  Also, try to avoid heavy prod­ucts, which can con­tribute to buildup and lessen the dura­tion of your style.

IF FLAT IRONING:
5. Air-dry in big braids.

In order to min­i­mize heat usage, air-dry your hair as opposed to blow-dry­ing.  Doing so in big braids will stretch the hair bet­ter than twists though it will also take longer.

6. Apply a silicone-based heat protectant and evenly.

A good heat pro­tec­tant will usu­al­ly con­tain sil­i­cones, such as dime­thicone or cyclome­thicone, which are very effec­tive at reduc­ing dam­age.  Apply­ing a heat pro­tec­tant is nec­es­sary to reduce the rate at which heat trav­els through the hair.  Be sure to apply a suf­fi­cient amount and sec­tion by sec­tion.

7. Flat iron using a moderate temperature and no more than two passes.

Read this post on “The Nat­u­ral Haven” for infor­ma­tion on the tem­per­a­ture pro­file for human hair.  If you do use a set­ting above 300 degrees Fahren­heit, try not to go above 350 F.  Also, invest in a qual­i­ty flat iron so that lit­tle effort (includ­ing min­i­mal pass­es) is required to achieve the look for which you are aim­ing.  Be sure to invest in one with a tem­per­a­ture dial, as well, so that you can con­trol the heat lev­el.

IF BLOW-DRYING:
5. Plop the hair until damp.

It is less dam­ag­ing to blow-dry damp hair rather than soak­ing wet hair.  Pri­or to heat usage, wrap your fresh­ly washed hair with a tow­el or t-shirt for fif­teen to twen­ty min­utes.  (This method of remov­ing excess water is called plop­ping.)  Then unwrap your hair and pro­ceed to the next step.

6. Apply a silicone-based heat protectant.

A good heat pro­tec­tant will usu­al­ly con­tain sil­i­cones, such as dime­thicone or cyclome­thicone, which are very effec­tive at reduc­ing dam­age.  Apply­ing a heat pro­tec­tant is nec­es­sary to reduce the rate at which heat trav­els through the hair.  Be sure to apply a suf­fi­cient amount and sec­tion by sec­tion.

7. Blow dry using the tension method (no combs or brushes).

View tuto­ri­als on ten­sion blow-dry­ing in this post.  This method of blow-dry­ing is less dam­ag­ing than using comb attach­ments or brush­es, which may over-manip­u­late the hair.  Addi­tion­al­ly, invest in a blow dry­er with a dif­fuser, which will help to even­ly dis­trib­ute the heat across your hair.

HOW OFTEN?

Alter­nate between your heat-styling rou­tine and no-heat styles.

Wear your heat-styled hair for 2–3 weeks at a time and alter­nate with air-dried styles (e.g., twists, buns, braids, roller set).  Whether you choose to wear heat-styled looks twice a year or twelve times a year is up to you.  How­ev­er, the low­er your fre­quen­cy of heat usage, the bet­ter your hair will fair in the long run.

Ladies, how do you reduce dam­age while heat styling?

Chinwe

Empow­er­ing wom­en of col­or to break bar­ri­ers. Cherish.Thy.Melanin. https://cherishthymelanin.com/
https://www.facebook.com/cherishthymelanin/

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39 Comments on "7 Steps to Minimize Damage When Using Heat on Natural Hair"

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Evy

When­ev­er using hair straight­en­er its nec­es­sary to dam­age your hair so for less hair dam­age you provide great steps when using heat.

Stella

There are so many nat­u­ral way which are more prefer­able than the use of a chem­i­cal proud­cts which are more harm­ful and not con­troll the hair dam­age.

Feli

What is a good heat pro­tec­tant to use?

Rosie

In mar­ket there are so many prod­ucts avail­able for the con­trol your hair dam­age and its bet­ter that you use nat­u­ral prod­ucts for it.

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[…] So, heat is an option – as long as you don’t over­do it and abuse it. Also, con­sid­er this: If you are a 4C nat­u­ral with fine strands, you may have to use less heat (fre­quen­cy and tem­per­a­ture) than a 4C nat­u­ral with thick strands. Check out my ear­lier post for tips on “How to Min­i­mize Dam­age When Using Heat”. […]

Globetrotter5K

I just got my hair col­ored last week. How long should I wait before straight­en­ing it?

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