The 411 on... Heat Damage

I never really understood the concept of heat damage before I consciously went natural after a three year stint with relaxers. You see, when I had previously been natural, my blow dryer was the styling tool of choice and eventhough I knew I had curls, I guess it was lack of understanding/education that made me heavily reliant on a blow-out. Now I look back in horror thinking of all the damage I was unconsciously doing to my hair and wondering why it wouldn't grow.

If you don't know or never really heard about heat damage, it usually occurs from excessive or intensive use of heat styling method such as blow drying, flat ironing, curling irons (in fact any type of iron), hot combs, etc... used on hair. In fact, even the Sun's UV rays can cause your hair to have heat damage and become dry, brittle and susceptible to more damage.

Here's a little bit more on heat damage;
Usually heat damage takes place gradually, stage by stage, as follows:

* the hair is weakened
* the cuticle begins to break down
* the cuticle disappears, layer by layer
* the cortex is exposed
* split ends appear
* the hair breaks.
Quote taken from P&G Beauty & Grooming

I would also like to mention heat damage can cause permanent damage to your curl pattern!
Bottom line = Heat damage is a curl + hair killer!

Q. So what can you do to avoid heat damage?
A. Well there's a few thing you can do;
  1. Squeeze out excess water before blow drying, this will minimise damage because if you blow dry whilst your hair is soaking wet it will damage the cuticles.
  2. Use conditioner containing protein extract; collagen, amino acids an pathenol, these increase moisture content of your hair.
  3. Use heat protectant products and leave-in conditioners, you can even use these even if you are not heat styling your hair, in order to protect your hair from the sun,
  4. On sunny days rock hats and wraps to protect your hair
  5. Use a lower heat setting on your appliances
  6. Most importantly, use heat styling in moderation - I mean you can get away with using the flat iron once in a while but if you're using them constantly, you will fry your hair!

Q. But what can I do if I already have heat damage?
A. Unfortunately not much, heat damage is irreversable, there is no way of treating it. However, trimming your hair can reduce occurence of split ends. I would suggest using protective styling to cover up any differences in texture and to protect the ends whilst growing out any damage. Alternatively, one could just for the big chop and cut all damaged hair.

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