By Chin­we (pic­tured above) of Hair and Health

When I first went nat­ur­al years ago, I did not fore­see myself using heat reg­u­lar­ly, if at all.  How­ev­er, with more and more length came a few changes to my reg­i­men … and a big change in my mind­set.  While heat was “the ene­my” in the ear­li­er part of my nat­ur­al hair jour­ney, it grad­u­al­ly became a friend (though with cau­tion) start­ing almost two years ago.  It began as a way to exper­i­ment with more styling options but even­tu­al­ly served a dual role of facil­i­tat­ing length reten­tion once I start­ed see­ing results.


While heat usage is NOT for every nat­ur­al, I do share this list for those who are con­sid­er­ing using it for length reten­tion. The fol­low­ing are four ways I use mod­er­ate heat to retain length:

1. To make detan­gling eas­i­er and faster

Pri­or to incor­po­rat­ing heat into my reg­i­men, detan­gling would take a max­i­mum of two hours of stand­ing in front of the mir­ror. With a wide-tooth comb and patience, I would start in the back of my con­di­tion­er-soaked hair.  How­ev­er, fatigue and impa­tience would set in as I grad­u­al­ly made my way to the crown and front area.  This process even­tu­al­ly led to break­age of my crown and front strands over time, but incor­po­rat­ing heat into my reg­i­men changed that.  Now I detan­gle on pre­vi­ous­ly straight­ened hair in under thir­ty min­utes and with less break­age.

2. To decrease knots and tan­gles in loose styles

Sin­gle-strand knots (SSKs) and tan­gles become preva­lent when I choose to wear my hair loose for more than a cou­ple of days.  Even if my hair has been stretched via twists or braids, shrink­age quick­ly sets in allow­ing for these SSKs and tan­gles to form.  Since incor­po­rat­ing heat into my reg­i­men, I can wear my hair loose (i.e., twist-out, braid-out, or straight) with­out the wor­ry of knots and tan­gles form­ing on my ends.

3. To take a break from pro­tec­tive styling

If you know me, then you know I LOVE wear­ing twists reg­u­lar­ly, but some­times my edges need a break, and some­times I do.  Twist-outs and braid-outs used to be my favorite options for a break, but as I men­tioned above, SSKs and tan­gles can become prob­lem.  When my hair was short­er, I used to be able to wear such styles for a week with­out any issues.  How­ev­er, as my hair has grown, I can only wear them for a cou­ple of days before knots and tan­gles take form.  Using heat to straight­en my hair before twist­ing for a twist-out keeps knots at bay and allows me to take a 2- to 3-week break from pro­tec­tive styling.

4. To reduce break­age while styling

Heat and break­age are two words that may sound like they belong to the same fam­i­ly, but when used appro­pri­ate­ly AND mod­er­ate­ly, heat actu­al­ly reduces break­age for me.  My hair is very kinky and thick in its nat­ur­al state, and styling it at this length can be dif­fi­cult some­times.  A lit­tle mechan­i­cal break­age is almost inevitable, espe­cial­ly if I am on a time crunch. Heat usage, on the oth­er hand, makes styling eas­i­er in that the bulk in my hair is min­i­mized and my kinks are tem­porar­i­ly stretched.

Ladies, do you use heat?  Has it helped you in any way?


Empow­er­ing women of col­or to break bar­ri­ers. Cherish.Thy.Melanin.

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104 Comments on "4 Ways I Use Heat to Retain Length"

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I think this is a great post. I have 4c, medi­um length hair and have the same prob­lem with detan­gling and knots.

I thought as my hair grew I could detan­gle it in larg­er sec­tions and cut down on time, how­ev­er the oppo­site has been true. It takes me an hour and a half to detan­gle my hair and anoth­er hour to style it. And the style bare­ly lasts three days. NO BEUNO! 

I would love to learn the details of how this per­son uses heat on their hair and how reg­u­lar­ly. PLEASE DO ANOTHER ARTICLE!


When peo­ple say it takes them 2 hrs just to detan­gle I’m always amazed. Why would it take that long?! 

You have to do what works best for you and not fol­low rules just b/c peo­ple keep repeat­ing them. I would’ve liked if you dis­cussed how you use heat to main­tain length. Do you mean flat iron­ing? Just blow dry­ing?


I know. Me too! Lol. I kept read­ing to see if she would explain how she uses heat to main­tain her hair. That’s what we need to know.

Hi. I also do this to my hair. Ir real­ly depends on what you are going for and your hair. For exam­ple, right now I flat iron my hair. Because my hair is already stretched and detan­gled, I can put it in twists, then wash con­di­tion, and seal, and allow the twists to air dry. Then I can flat iron to stretch. (not bone straight, just enough to be big and poofy but not bone straight) I repeat every 1 to 2 weeks or so, with NO HEAT in between.  How­ev­er, if you are just begin­ning this, it may take… Read more »
I am also grate­ful for this arti­cle and com­fort­ed that I’m not the only one who finds it eas­i­er to han­dle my hair when apply­ing heat(specifically blow­ing out). I don’t do it often becuz of the fear of break­age even though I use my heat pro­tec­tant serum and I blow dry on low heat. But now I have more infor­ma­tion and won’t have doubts myself when­ev­er I do it again as long as I con­tin­ue to take the nec­es­sary pre­cau­tions. I also think though that every­thing should be done in mod­er­a­tion so my advice to any­one con­sid­er­ing incor­po­rat­ing heat in… Read more »

I’ve been blow dry­ing my hair every 2 weeks and my hair has thrived and I’m final­ly main­tain­ing length. This is after 2 years of being scared to death of any kind of heat.


I start­ed blow dry­ing my hair 6 weeks ago and lov­ing the results. I make sure to pre-poo and use heat pro­tec­tant. My hair is less prone to tan­gles now.


ive been on the hunt for a good heat pro­tec­tant spray. im look­ing for an alco­hol free one and cant seem to find one. i made the mis­take of flat iron­ing my hair with a shine serum that had alco­hol (did­nt notice it or think abt it at the time) and my hair shed­ded sooo bad! i real­ized after that noth­ing had changed abt my regime except id straight­ened it and the serum had alco­hol. it had to be the cul­prit! what do you use?

Try using grape­seed oil. It is a nat­ur­al heat pro­tec­tant.


Thanks. I heard abt this. Ill give it a try!


Hi New­bie- What kind of heat pro­tec­tant are you using? And are you using a spe­cif­ic blow dry­er? Also, what is your tex­ture if you don’t mind me ask­ing. Thanks.

I think a natural’s rela­tion­ship with heat depends on the type of hair the per­son has and how they use it. Thick­er hair or low poros­i­ty hair is sure to resist more dam­age than the oppo­site (very fine strands or high poros­i­ty hair). Also, if you’re using over 400 deg. and doing mul­ti­ple pass­es every 3 days, of course you’re going to expe­ri­ence dam­age. Long­hair­dont­care2011 and ali­ci­a­james­mu­sic on youtube are two oth­ers who have fared suc­cess­ful results with heat.  This arti­cle is proof that not every nat­ur­al has to fol­low “the rules”. Lis­ten to your hair and drown out any extra… Read more »
Heat’s only the ene­my if it’s used improp­er­ly. Unfor­tu­nate­ly some­times peo­ple don’t know it was used improp­er­ly until it’s too late and that’s why some peo­ple take that “Heat is the DEBBIL!” stance. I haven’t heat-straight­ened my hair in years and I’ve just accept­ed SSKs as sim­ply being part of hav­ing longer Afro-tex­tured hair BUT every­thing said here makes sense to me. I know peo­ple whose hair knots up at the very men­tion of the word “loose” and since they’re com­mit­ted to being nat­ur­al but aren’t pre­pared to loc up (yet) incor­po­rat­ing a lit­tle heat into their reg­i­men seems to… Read more »
i’m the same way. I used to use heat on a wkly basis since com­ing to col­lege up to about 2012, when i dis­cov­ered nat­ur­al hair boards and decid­ed to give the nat­ur­al hair style thing a try. up until that point i’d nev­er real­ly worn my hair curly except for the time fol­low­ing my big chop. but in all of last year i grad­u­al­ly cut off the ends of my hair that had been heat exposed, and came out by the end of the year with about 10 inch­es or so of pret­ty healthy, thick nat­ur­al hair. But by… Read more »

I FULLY agree with every­thing that you said! I have 3c, 4a and 4b hair and it seems as if using heat, makes it eas­i­er to main­tain my hair. I LOVE to straigth­en my hair and from read­ing blogs and vlogs, I always was told that heat is “The Ene­my”. I’m hap­py you post­ed this! You helped some­one with relief from guilt!