They sit there in your bathroom looking shiny. You bought them because of the promises to completely change your look and make your life easier. You watched your favorite YouTube gurus use them and you’re convinced. They lure you in with “adjustable heat seatings” that will protect your hair and “ionic technology” that will reduce frizz. It all sounds perfect until you’ve suffered from irreparable heat damage.
Heat damage occurs often in regimens that rely on blow dryers, flat irons, hooded dryers and the like. In the quest to make hair easier to style or to straighten it, heat appliances are called upon to break down natural curl patterns. Although the devices tout safety, it is not well-known that African-American hair is much more fragile than others because of the bends and kinks in the hair follicles. Safe or not, our hair is weaker than most and extremely responsive to heat styling.
Heat Breaks Down the Strength of Your Hair
Direct heat from hottools like flat irons and blow dryers can burn hair. According to The Science of Black Hair, even if you have healthy hair, it will burn at 233 degrees Celsius (451.4 degrees Fahrenheit). Got damaged hair from chemicals or dyes? Well, it gets even worse. The purpose of tools like flat irons is to remove ALL moisture and break down protein bonds until they begin to melt.
Your “straight hair don’t care” comes at a cost. Continued use of heat stylers causes damage that is cumulative. The more your hair is “heat trained”, the more likely it is to inflict permanent damage to the individual hair strands. We’ve all seen those sisters with mostly curly curls and a patch of straight hair that wouldn’t cooperate, right?
So How Do You Avoid Heat Damage?
Although some will direct you to heat protectants like serums and creams, there are only two ways to seriously break up with heat damage. Products that claim to protect from heat don’t do justice to the damage from heat. They provide a false sense of confidence if anything at all. They tend to be made of silicones or oils (or a combination) that simply add a coating to the hair strand.
Minimize your use of heat if you really want to avoid damage. There are many alternatives to achieving straight hair if that is truly your goal. Manufacturers and retailers have made it so simple to switch up your hairstyle with items like wigs and weaves. You can rock silky straight tresses with no harm to your hair and keep it protected from over manipulation or the environment.
Another option is to have your hair straightened by a professional. Licensed beauticians are taught to understand the condition of the hair shaft so they should adjust heat they apply depending on your hair’s density and condition. They will assess and evaluate your hair care to make sure you’re making healthy choices. Additionally, many pro stylists have experienced the ill effects of heat damage so they work to avoid it with their clients.
There is no remedy for heat damage. Once your hair has suffered, your choices get cut down to trimming it, cutting it off or hiding out until you’re ready to come to terms with the truth. The best course of action is to create a healthy hair routine that limits heat.