Every once in awhile, I like to straighten my hair. In Fall/Winter 2016/17, “every once in awhile” became “once a month.” Even though I used a heat protectant, repeated blow-drying and flat ironing inflicted noticeable damage to my hair, leaving my once-springy curls flat and lifeless.
I enjoyed wearing sleeker hair during the colder months, but the aftermath reminded me of why I went natural in the first place. Years of heat styling left my hair unhealthy and thin. In 2007 I realized I wanted big, bouncy hair and I wasn’t on that path. A commitment to “no heat” hairstyling suited my desire for healthy, springy, voluminous hair.
I’ve met both progress and setbacks, but one thing I have learned during my natural hair journey is how to repair heat damaged hair. It’s a process, mine of which I’m going to share in this post today.
My approach is rooted in realism and acceptance. Realizing that I will experience a degree of damage when I use direct heat, and accepting that sooner or later I will have to cut off the damaged ends.
How to Repair Heat Damaged Hair
Stop using (direct) heat.
Avoid direct heat going forward. Blow dryers, flat irons, curling irons and pressing combs are on the ban list. Overhead dryers set on warm are fine as an indirect heat source. If straight hair is a must, explore methods using indirect heat.
Trim damaged ends
Sooner or later, the damaged ends must go. Split ends that remain in the hair eventually split further up the hair cuticle and break off anyway. Save yourself the further breakage and let them go. I personally wasn’t comfortable cutting my hair completely; I trimmed in phases three weeks apart.
Monthly protein & clarifying treatments
A few weeks after my last flat-iron, I performed an ACV hair rinse to clarify my hair and close the cuticle. A week later, I did an egg based hair mask to moisturize and strengthen my strands. I like to use this egg and grapeseed oil hair treatment after heat styling.
Keeping your hair moisturized through each step of the styling process helps it grow longer and stronger. Use pre-poos and deep conditioners. Massage your scalp with a little bit of oil every couple days. Seal your ends and retain moisture while you sleep by wrapping your hair every night.
If you like wearing your hair “out,” wear low maintenance hairstyles like roller sets, twist outs, and braid outs. Otherwise, keep your hair tucked away as much as possible. Personally, I’m about that #bunlife. Here are some protective hairstyle ideas.
Follow these guidelines will help you recover from heat damage. With patience, it is possible to repair the heat damage to your natural curls without doing a big chop.