The beautiful thing about being a naturalista is the endless hairstyling options and flexibility it brings. As loyal as I am to my curls and the natural hair community, I love the convenience of wearing my hair straightened. The method for styling is to let my hair air dry in twists, followed by the blow dryer on cold for stretch, one pass through of the flat iron, and finally flexi-rods for big bouncy curls. My rationale is that the less heat I use the more protection I have against heat damage. Unfortunately, I was only partially correct. I noticed after a few months my ends needed resuscitating. Yep, they were officially heat damaged due to the consistent use of the flat iron.
I assumed that wearing my hair in its natural state would be a thing of the past. I knew it would be a long road ahead to reverse the damage the heat left behind. I’m determined to have my natural curl pattern again. Many would argue that once you’ve reached the point of heat damage, there’s no hope for a turn around. However, that will not be my reality. After much research and a strategic and consistent hair care routine, I now can finally see life in my strands.
Here are the 5 steps I’m taking to revive my heat damaged curls
Break Up With the Heat – Just like any unhealthy relationship, I had to cut ties with my flat iron. Heat styling tools normally don’t cause severe damage after a single use or even an occasional blowout if used correctly. In most cases, healthy hair can withstand temperatures of up to 450f, but if used excessively over a period of time, it will leave the hair dry and brittle. The flat iron and blow dryer is what got me into this situation so it only makes sense that I get rid of the culprits. My suggestion to anyone facing the same issue would be to find a box and bury the goods.
Let Go of the Dead – Naturally, it’s quite hard to depart with the dead, but if I want to save the rest of my curls those ends have to go. I started trimming my ends every two weeks until all of the straight ends were gone. Dead ends don’t serve a purpose and if left untreated can travel up the hair shaft damaging the healthy curls, weakening the rest of the hair. It’s always best to cut as much of the dead hair as possible. Afterwards, grieve, cope, and move on with life.
Clarify the Hair – Styling products such as gels, leave-in conditioners, serums, and oils can produce a really heavy build up on the hair. Although some of these same products promise great results, when used in combination with heat can cause serious heat damage. Before I shampoo my strands I use a concoction of Apple Cider Vinegar and water on my scalp and hair. ACV breaks down the molecular structure of these products. It leaves the hair squeaky clean but not overly dry. Apple cider vinegar also contains antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. These properties help clean the scalp, get rid of flakes, and promote healthy hair growth.
Moisture is key – Although I didn’t want to admit it, my hair was severely dehydrated. I assumed a good deep conditioning after every wash ẃould be enough to keep my curls hydrated, but I was wrong. When hair lacks the proper amount of moisture, it becomes dry, delicate, and prone to breakage. Heat styling coupled with the lack of moisture is a recipe for disaster. To keep my hair moisturized I’m opting for a water based oil concoction every other day when styling. According to Jennifer, a hairstylist at A’Miracles Stylon in Metro Atlanta, she recommends using an humectant. She explains that humectants possess a chemical structure that pulls water from the atmosphere that will attract and hold moisture within the hair. Also, drinking as much water as possible is always a good idea.
Pack it with Protein – Hair îs made up of protein filaments called keratin and chains of amino acids. When heat is used consistently it breaks down the chains and is what actually causes the strands to look parched and weak. This was exactly what my curls needed. A good protein treatment will nourish the hair from the inside out and assist with growth. It’s also a good idea to eat as much protein as possible. Diets high in protein are essential for healthy hair growth. Foods such as lean meats, seafood, and beans have proven to be beneficial for regenerating hair.
After using these steps for a few months, my hair is stronger, healthier, and fuller than ever before. If you’ve found yourself in the dreaded company of heat damaged hair follow these same steps to bring life back to your strands. It won’t be an overnight process, but the end result will be worth the wait. If you’ve ever experienced heat damage before let us know what worked for you.