Automatically, I assumed that because in the past my hair would always resist heat, I could never get heat damage. ERKKKKKK! WRONG!!! Boy oh boy was I wrong, wrong, wrong. I had a few flat-iron fails in my time and after all the frustration I was determined to get my hair straight by the hook or the crook. So I committed a few flat ironing sins and now my hair is paying dearly the price. I didn’t protein reinforce my thin tresses, turned the heat up way too high, left the heat on my hair way too long and now one side of my hair is damaged. Although my hair looked beautiful after I was done, the consequences I now have to endure. I didn’t do all the things listed below, however, I would love to provide a few guidelines when applying direct heat to your hair. I speak from experience.
Protein Treat & Deep Condition Before & After Heat Application
Moisture is extremely important for hair period. So before you flat-iron make sure the hair is properly conditioned and moisturized. Also, since the hair strands are made up of 91% protein, it would only make good sense to reinforce the structure of the strands with a protein based treatment before applying direct heat. It doesn’t have to be the same day or same week but sometime before you apply heat. I guess somewhere in the back of my head I knew this but was just too lazy. It would mean that I would actually have to go to the store to buy a protein treatment (I know the alternative).
After you’ve flat ironed your hair you may want to do another protein treatment depending on how long you maintain your straight hair. Some people maintain for a week, weeks at a time or months. Unfortunately I can only maintain for a few days. Remember protein treatment can last for up to six weeks if done correctly. Which brings me to my next point.
Plan Plan Plan
If you have even the slightest idea that sometime in the near future you would love to straighten your hair with a flat-iron or any other heat taming machine, do yourself a huge favor and plan way in advance for it. That way you will mentally and physically prepare for the process and you would be able to avoid some of the pitfalls I faced. Trust me your hair will thank you immensely for this.
Use A Heat Protectant
Usually this process of heat taming takes a long time for me because I have to wash, detangle, condition, blow dry and then flat-iron my hair. Once my hair is clean I extract water with either a T-shirt or towel then apply a heat protectant. For now I have Tresemme Thermal Creations. I spray generously on damp hair before blow drying. Once my hair is dry, I like to apply Proclaim Heat protectant. Reason being, it’s not heavy (great because I have fine hair), it keeps the hair soft and shiny, it has a great smell, and it really controls the frizz. Then I proceed to iron out my hair. A good heat protectant will do what its supposed to do, act as a barrier/shield between your machine and your hair.
Avoid Oil Before Ironing
Oil plus direct heat equals frying. Your hair will also smell burnt. It’s fine to apply oil afterwards to give a little shine and weight. But if you don’t want to walk around smelling like burnt hair don’t apply oil before you flat-iron and don’t leave the heat on too long.
Adjust the Temperature on the Flat Iron
First of all that Chi flat-iron don’t play. It was all the way turnt up HAWTTTTT!!! My advice to you is to use a flat-iron with adjustable heat temperature settings and always test run on several small areas of hair. For example, where your hair is thickest and thinnest start with a low temp and move your way up to see up to what degree of heat the hair can take without frying it. Hair burns at 451 degrees. For the record the Chi does have adjustable settings I just felt my hair needed a lot of heat.
A One Time Slow and Steady Motion
This point goes back to point 2 above. You have to plan. If you plan you’ll have adequate time to flat-iron your hair properly and not rush through the process. Now instead of doing multiple run overs, run the flat-iron through each section of hair once in a slow and steady motion. I’m not talking about turtle slow because you don’t want the heat sitting on your hair for anything over 10 seconds (my best estimate). On the other hand, hurrying through may mean missed sections which means going thru again which could equal hair damage. I know sometimes the Asian can come out in us once we’re armed with the hot tamer machine but please be mindful that our hair strands are fragile.
Work In Small Sections
Ole people say one one full basket. The same principle lies true here. The smaller the sections the better. Especially if your hair is thick or you have multiple textures that you’re working with. This means you can run though once and you’ll get a smoother finish. Working in big chunky sections means that it will take longer for the heat to penetrate all the strands which means you have to leave the heat on longer which makes your hair more prone to heat damage.
If Its Smoking Its Burning
Usually where there’s smoke there’s fire. Don’t ignore the warning signs. If your hair is smoking its burning. If its burning it will fall off. If it falls off you’ll be mad at yourself. Remember slow steady motions. Don’t let the iron sit on any one section of your hair for more than 5-10 seconds. A word to the wise is sufficient.
Flat Iron Dry Hair
For best and long-lasting results hair should only be flat ironed once dried. This does not mean that the hair has to be blow dried. It could be air-dried and stretched via banding methods, twist outs or braid outs, bunning or your favorite method.
Flat ironing wet hair is a definite NO NO and a recipe for disaster. Flat ironing damp hair will only result in frizz and possibly burnt hair. Flat ironing dry hair will give you optimum results. Not potato chips dry but dried and moisturized.
Wrap Your Hair At Night
After all that hard work, and trust me its a lot of work, don’t ruin your pretty hair by neglecting it at night. Wrap you hair and tie it with a silk or satin scarf. Doing this will allow your hair to have a curve when you let it down in the morning hence there will be no need to reapply heat.
So there you have it. Although heat damage is subjective, if you incorporate some or all of the preceding tips your hair should come out looking fine and revert to its natural state once you wash it. Always do what is best for you. Heat damage is serious and sometimes the only way to restore the damage hair is to cut off the damaged part. Remember an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
Happy Heat Taming!!!