I’m sorry, I just don’t know how to say this.
Okay. Remember that time I spontaneously straightened my hair? Well, yup. My beautiful coils got heat damaged.
How did I determine it was heat damage?
By the morning after I straightened my hair, I could smell the burn. It smelled like someone had lit my hair on fire and it absolutely irritated me, the smell. When I finally decided to wet my hair in the shower, and the smell lingered on, I knew that I was screwed. Sigh.
2. Loss of coil elasticity.
The beauty of natural hair is how versatile it is. Shrinkage has to be the 8th wonder of the world. Usually, when straightened natural hair is wet, it ought to go back to its natural curl pattern. In addition, when the hair is pulled at by fingers, it ought to spring back and curl back in. Granted, my hair, after washing, was shrunken, however there were visible straight tips. Also, when I pulled at any part of the hair, it became straight and would refuse to spring back. Sigh.
3. Loose curl pattern.
For me, this was the third indication. I twisted my hair one night in preparation for a twist out and my hair felt too fine and thin. I am not thick-haired, but the thinness that I felt was definitely strange. That was when I studied my coils in the mirror and yup, most of my coils were really loose. Sigh.
What to do? What to do?
I decided that I was going to restart the Maximum Hydration Method. Basically, the changes that follow heat damage all point to one thing – moisture.
Different people have tried different things that have worked in helping to deal with heat damage. Here a few examples:
1. Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse.
Well, clarify. That’s the purpose of the rinse. Usually, when your hair is straight, more products go in and there is high build up by the time you are ready to revert to curly/coily hair. So cleansing and clarifying hair properly is highly necessary. However, in nurturing your hair back to life, it is advisable to do the ACV rinse every so often (say, weekly).
2. Protein Treatments.
One baggage that heat damage comes with is weak hair that tends to split a lot at the ends. I actually noticed that when my hair was straight and I combed through, there were broken strands of hair on the comb and the table as well. Ugh. A store-bought protein treatment (e.g Aphogee 2-minute reconstructor) or a DIY treatment will suffice. But be careful! Don’t overdo it with the protein now.
3. Deep Condition.
Ah yes. Deep condition! Deep condition!! Deep condition!!! Choose your favourite highly moisturising deep conditioner and use it regularly and freely.
4. Hot Oil Treatment.
The point of most of these is to retain as much moisture as you can. Your hair has been robbed of its natural oils and is basically dead. So you will need to overcompensate for a while until it gets back to being independent. Hot oil treatments help. I will also add that you try oil rinsing with your frequent washes.
6. Allow hair to be slightly damp more often.
You know how sometimes we like to do our favourite styles on dry hair? Yeah, you can’t anymore. At least not yet. Have a spritz bottle handy with a water/conditioner or water/oil mix handy to spritz your ends with. In the state of damage, they get dry really easily and this will help to train your hair to be more accepting of moisture.
Shiver. They say this is the last resort. If all fails, you gon need to go to the scissors (or even the clipper! *screaaammm*). If your damage is horrendous, you will need a lot of patience. However, as you treat your hair delicately, you will need to imitate a transitioner. What this means is that you will need to trim off the ends regularly until all of your hair is back to being the hair that you once knew. Sometimes, people take the plunge and do the big chop. I. Will. Not. Be. Doing. This. No no no. I mean I only have one year of growth but please, it is never that serious. I shall nurse this hair back to life.
How can you prevent heat damage?
1. Don’t do it too much!
Usually, heat damage affects naturals that abuse the straightening iron. However, as in my case, even doing it once without proper safeguards can destroy your hair. The number of passes the iron makes through your hair should not be multiple. Two passes, and move on please. I didn’t count mine, but I bet she made more than 5 passes. When you start to see and/or smell those fumes coming from your hair then you should be afraid and stop what you’re doing.
2. Heat protect
Always, always, always use a heat protectant serum with any form of heat, especially a flat iron. I have no idea what was used on my hair (which was a very stupid thing to do. Do not be like me.). I advice that if you will be going to the salon, take your product with you or at least trust what the salon has before proceeding. There are more and more straightening kits in the market now and while I am not sure about the post-straightening services that they offer, at least they have heat protectants that help prevent damage.
3. Healthy pre-straightening practices
This is just as important as using a heat protectant. Make sure your hair is clean and deep conditioned before the blow-drying portion of the straightening process.
Because of the weather and because I was overwhelmed by what was happening to my hair, I am now currently caring for my hair in Marley twists. I shall let you know how that goes when I take down to assess progress.
So, yes, I was stupid and I’m paying the price. Thankfully, heat damage is not irreversible. On a similar note, I came across the idea of heat training. Apparently, it is applying heat regularly to cause hair curl pattern to become looser. The idea is to have healthy hair but loose curls and texture. It has been argued that heat training is not heat damage as it does not come with the dryness and brittleness of heat damaged hair. What are your thoughts on this? Have you had heat damage? How did you rescue the situation
Remember, we’re having a Big Fat Giveaway because we love you guys! 11 days left to enter, so do it!
Be smart with your choices this week.
– Mee Mee