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?


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

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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 »

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.

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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… Read more »

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!

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.


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.