Image Source: Lace and Hair Salon

DISCLAIMER: This mate­ri­al is pre­sent­ed for edu­ca­tion­al pur­pos­es only. Nei­ther I nor encour­ages the use of this tech­nique at home.

So just when I thought hair care couldn’t get any more extreme, I stum­bled upon an arti­cle about burn­ing away split ends with fire. Yes, you read that cor­rect­ly – burn­ing away split ends. From my research, I learned that this method of “cut­ting” has been prac­ticed in var­i­ous coun­tries and for at least a cen­tu­ry. For exam­ple, here is a video of bar­ber War­ren Lewis (in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee) cut­ting a customer’s hair with fire:

Nonethe­less, this hair cut­ting tech­nique is news to many peo­ple. In Brazil, the prac­tice is called “velat­er­apia” and per­formed a lit­tle dif­fer­ent­ly. I’ll talk more about this ver­sion of fire cut­ting today.

Velat­er­apia (can­dle ther­a­py) – what is it?

Velat­er­apia rough­ly trans­lates to “can­dle (vela) ther­a­py (ter­apia)”, or what some call, can­dle cut­ting. Lace and Hair,  a salon that offers this spe­cial ser­vice in São Paulo, Brazil, defines it as:

“a process [by] where a flame cau­ter­izes the hair, leav­ing behind a pas­sage of nutri­ents to its inte­ri­or; removes split ends and the imper­me­abil­i­ty of the hair caused by brush­ing and oth­er chem­i­cals.”

A sec­tion of dry hair is twist­ed until fly aways appear and then essen­tial­ly run down with a flame.  (The­se burnt fly aways are then trimmed off with scis­sors.) This step is repeat­ed sec­tion by sec­tion until the whole head of hair is com­plet­ed. End­ing with a deep con­di­tion­ing treat­ment, the entire process can take two hours and cost around $200 at some salons. On the Lace and Hair site, it is said that this ser­vice is for those with “hair that need[s] a deep repair­ing process,” but many wom­en are also using it as a way to remove split ends with­out loos­ing length.   Think of it as a speedy search & destroy, but with a flame of course.

Does hair burn­ing real­ly work?

When I used to get braid exten­sions installed as a child, a lighter or oth­er source of flame was reg­u­lar­ly used to burn the ends and some­times fly­aways. (Per­haps this brings back mem­o­ries for many of you as well.) How­ev­er, the aim was to seal the ends of the exten­sions and melt away any strays of the exten­sion hair; it was not to burn my real hair.

In read­ing about a flame being brought to someone’s real hair, I could not accept the def­i­n­i­tion of can­dle ther­a­py as a healthy process “leav­ing behind a pas­sage of nutri­ents to its inte­ri­or.” What is this “pas­sage”? Burnt off seg­ments of the cuti­cle lay­er that leave parts of the cor­tex – the “inte­ri­or” – exposed? Is that a good thing? Nonethe­less, the gen­er­al con­sen­sus from those who have had it done pro­fes­sion­al­ly has been large­ly pos­i­tive. Many wom­en rave that this can­dle ther­a­py leaves their hair feel­ing “healthy” and “smooth.” Here is a Cameroo­ni­an wom­an with relaxed hair shar­ing her expe­ri­ence with burn­ing her hair in a very sim­i­lar fash­ion. (The video is in French but the process is visu­al):

While I do think this is a pret­ty inter­est­ing tech­nique to rid the hair of split ends, at the same time, I am con­cerned about invis­i­ble dam­age that may be done to the remain­ing hair and in the long term.  For now, I’m not sold on the method.

Would you try this “can­dle ther­a­py”? Do you think it will catch on in the nat­u­ral hair com­mu­ni­ty?


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

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25 Comments on "New Trend? Women BURNING Their Ends to Get Rid of Split Ends"

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I’ve known this method for a long time, some beau­ty salons do it in my country(Haiti); but usu­al­ly they do it for fly­aways so that when you do a bun or small braids there are no hair stick­ing out and it does work for fly­aways.


In the words of the great Mar­t­in Payne: “DAMN THAT, Gina!”


I would absolute­ly try it. I don’t fol­low trends but would do this if I find a pro­fes­sion­al in the tech­nique.


There’s noth­ing more scary than the smell of burn­ing hair

When I used to get my nails done (acrylics), I used to go to a place that is in the Wash­ing­ton Hilton on 16th Street between K and L in DC and the guys in there, they were I believe Ital­ian would do “fire cuts.” That is how they would “cut.” I was told it gave the hair body and the who’s who of the Wash­ing­ton polit­i­cal scene and broad­cast news anchors would get their hair done this way. I’m not sure if they are still around but here is a link to YouTube video of him doing it

Hell naw.


.…‘Would you try this “can­dle ther­a­py”? Do you think it will catch on in the nat­u­ral hair com­mu­ni­ty?’.…

Some nat­u­rals will do EVEREYTHING for long hair. It would not sur­prise me if this is the new “band­wag­on” for 2015.

Hop on???.…Hell no


Yea I think I’ll pass on this BUT play dev­ils advo­cate

We are all speak­ing on how we would not do this, but the proof is in the pud­ding. Look at the women’s hair who have used this process reli­gious­ly.… and the Cameroo­ni­an wom­an- RELAXED AND SHE BURNS!! But from the lit­tle bit of hair I could see, its thick/dense, APL, bit of shine.… “looks” healthy to me.… 

May­be there is some­thing to it because if it was com­plete­ly bad it would not have been around for so long.


Why would ANYBODY do this? 

Peo­ple just do too much some­times.


Instead of using scissors,he lit­er­al­ly burned that old mans hair down to noth­ing! Seri­ous­ly?

The Natural Haven

Well guess what my next micro­scope exper­i­ment is going to be!


Uh how about that heat dam­age tho. If thats the case then my hair has been saved by heat dam­age already…nah, i’ll stick to the good to shears/scissors way of cut­ting hair. Heat on my hair ter­ri­fies me let alone putting a flame to my head…willingly. No thanks.


I’d only try this under 3 cir­cum­stances:

1) It pre­vents all future split ends from form­ing at the fire-treat­ed por­tion.
2) It is sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly proven to help hair more than it weak­ens it.
3) This is done in an alter­nate uni­verse in which I am not total­ly ter­ri­fied of an open flame being that close to my face.


Only one thing comes to mind: Michael Jack­son and that Pep­si com­mer­cial cas­tas­rophe. I AM ALL SET!




Oooooor­rrrr you can just get some damn scis­sors. Its not that seri­ous. Smh

Ms. Vee

Interesting.…I will glad­ly stick to scis­sors, con­ven­tion­al con­di­tion meth­ods and a blow dry­er. No poten­tial 3rd degree burns for me.


I too am not sold. Inter­est­ing though but not for me.


Inter­est­ing! Though I do feel like the “open­ing” is just the burn­ing off of hair. Kind of sim­i­lar to heat training,maybe


I would nev­er

Tabatha_Frm_ Ri

This is a bit extreme. I am glad i’ve nev­er been the kind to jump on band­wag­ons.


i’ll stick to the scis­sors.


Would I try this?

Hells naw!

Bc done !

I’d be waaaaaaaay too afraid to set my hair on fire hon­est­ly.
let me just stay old school with my good ol’ trimes­tri­al trims…