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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You only live once, straight­en­ing your hair is not the end of the world but an option of styling you can have.You could always use african thread­ing to get a blow dried effect and or use curl for­m­ers to stretch hair before straighten­ng. I have made peace with it and do not feel bad when I straight­en n love my kinky curly hair wen it’s curly too. #bestof­both


I’ve used African thread­ing since I was a baby and the results are amaz­ing. It stretch­es hair,while giv­ing it the blow dried effect.recommend it for any­one


I want to try the thread­ing tech­nique on my own hair. ive watched sev­er­al videos time and time again.

Michelle@Radiant Brown Beauty

No heat here. Fine strands. I also dis­cov­ered that for my hair, even when I straight­en my hair with­out heat there’s more break­age than I would like. There’s some­thing about the indi­vid­u­al strands curling around each oth­er that’s “pro­tec­tive”

I’m actu­al­ly writ­ing a post about for this com­ing Mon­day. If you use the hair typ­ing sys­tem, I’m a com­bo 3c/3b and have noticed that when my hair is in it’s nat­u­ral­ly state, it almost nev­er breaks vs. when it’s in a straight­ened state.


Great post! Just throw­ing this out there: If you’d like the ben­e­fits of heat stat­ed here, but with­out the actu­al use of heat, you can try curl­form­ers. I haven’t actu­al­ly tried them yet, but I do plan on buy­ing them soon. Peo­ple seem to be get­ting good results with them and I’m going to see if I can retain more length with them. Per­son­al­ly, I’d like to con­tin­ue to stay away from heat but my nat­u­ral hair, even when stretched with braids, still tends to tan­gle and break from mechan­i­cal dam­age. I’m excit­ed to see if stretch­ing with curl­form­ers will help!


I use Curl­form­ers all of the time! Every since I saw Nap­tural85 use them, I have been addict­ed! Curl­form­ers make my hair look like I actu­al­ly put heat in it! I bought the Curl­form­ers from eBay. They were from Chi­na and cheap­er than going to Sally’s. Ppl may say that they’re not the real ones, but every­thing in made in Chi­na any­way, so how could those be any dif­fer­ent from Curl­form­ers brand? They work great in my hair!

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I“ve just start­ed try­ing this out on my hair. I will have to per­fect the prep lead­ing up to the heat ses­sions and play around with low­er temps because it seemed to real­ly dry my ends out. I didn’t like that at all. I blowdryed on low heat and then I flat ironed on 375.. Next time I will prep longer lead­ing into the heat ses­sion and use less heat. I do want the loosening/less tan­gling ben­e­fit but I don’t want to end up with dry hair… How do you keep your hair mois­tur­ized while its straight?


Try skip­ping the blow dry and just air dry in twist or braids then flat iron. My hair retains much more mois­ture this way. I flat iron once a mon­th and while it is straight I use a tiny amount of a mois­tur­iz­ing cream and grape seed oil until wash day.

This has become my real­i­ty. It has been almost 13 months since I shaved my head. Since then, I have been liv­ing the easy life of an afro. I had a sim­ple dai­ly rou­tine, and sur­pris­ing­ly my hair didn’t become a giant knot with­out pro­tec­tive styling. I love my thick hair and my afro. But now my hair is get­ting too long for the fro. I am get­ting nasty tan­gles and the sin­gle strand knots nev­er cease. My hair has an extreme­ly high shrink­age rate and it loves to tan­gle. I’m at the point where I am con­stant­ly cut­ting out… Read more »