So you've played with the fire and got burnt. Your hair is heat damaged, and you're wondering what now? Should you cut it all off and start over? Is there any hope left for your once healthy voluminous strands? Here are a few routes you can take to get those curls back and healthier than ever!
So your hair is heat damaged, what now?
Depending on the severity, there are a range of things you can do to get your curls back.
Here are a few that I find to be most useful!
1. Minimize Heat
First and foremost, avoid using heat on your hair. If your hair is heat damaged, it's needless to say, your strands need a healthy break from heat exposure. Try to reduce the amount of heat you use on your hair from very little to none for about 3 months to a year depending on how much the damage has manipulated your texture. If you have a curly or coily hair texture and you notice that your ends are completely straight, hold on sis, the next tip is for you!
Your main focus is to reduce heat and manipulation on your hair so that you don't create more damage while your hair is attempting to restore its health. Try styles like twist outs or braid outs that should last a long time without much manipulation. Since your hair may not be all the same texture, use rollers or rods on the damaged parts to help them blend in as you grow your hair back.
2. Get Regular Trims
Let go of things that no longer serve you sis, and that includes those dead ends! If your texture is slightly manipulated, it can revert back to healthy curls with time and a little extra TLC, but if your ends are straight, that's a bit more than manipulation. Minor heat damage may loosen your curls a bit, but severe heat damage is more serious than a manipulation of texture. Severe heat damage can weaken your hair to the point of no return.
Usually straight and frayed ends is a sign of dead hair commonly referred to as "split ends." Those parts of your hair are lifeless and even if you choose to hold onto them, those parts of your hair will be difficult to style. Not only will those damaged ends make every style look frizzy and dull, but the damage can spread up to the roots of your hair and result in hair thinning. If you notice a few straight ends, for goodness' sake sis, cut them off! Remember that healthy hair will always look and feel better than long damaged hair.
If you don't want to drastically change your length, you can in some cases get away with trimming the dead ends off bit by bit, but heat damage or not, we all get split ends here and there, so to avoid needing a big chop, it is important to take care of your hair regularly. Proper hair care includes getting regular trims. I would recommend getting a trim at least twice a year. It's always a good idea to get a trim when you go in to get your blowout because the smoothened texture makes it easier to identify split ends and to get a better trim.
3. Deep conditioning
Deep conditioning is a very underrated part of healthy hair care. Deep conditioning helps to prevent breakage and retain moisture. Our hair goes through a lot on a daily basis from styling to getting tangled to enduring weather changes, so it is important to ensure that all of our strands are getting the TLC they need to flourish. When you begin deep conditioning your natural hair on a regular basis, I promise that you will see a difference.
4. Protein Treatments
Protein treatments work to restore broken bonds in your hair. Our hair is structured by a protein called "keratin." Incorporating protein treatments with keratin into our natural hair routine is important, especially when your hair is damaged. Protein treatments will help to restore hair that has been weaken from damage by rebuilding the lost proteins in your hair. These treatments are important for maintaining strong healthy hair that is less prone to styling and heat damage.
Although protein treatments can help strengthen your hair, overusing them can lead to "protein overload" which can make your hair dull and dry. For this reason, it is important to only do them once in a while and to balance them out with deep conditioning. Listen to your hair and decide how often you should do a protein treatment according to your hair needs.
5. Hot Oil treatments
Hot oil treatments are another great way to both strengthen and moisturize your hair. Similar to deep conditioning and protein treatments, you apply a hot oil treatment to freshly washed hair. After washing your hair, you apply warm oil throughout your hair and scalp or you can apply the oil at room temperature and sit with it in your hair under a hooded dryer for about 15 minutes and then wash it out.
The oil blend you use depends on your hair and your hair needs. You can get a hot oil treatment done at the salon or you can do-it-yourself at home. Oils are already great for keeping moisture in the hair, strengthening your ends, and bringing overall shine to dull looking hair, so heating it up a bit can really give your hair the nutrients it needs by allowing the oil to penetrate your strands.
Should You Make the Big Chop?
If the damage is excessive and none of these tips seem to be helping, it may be time to cut it all off. Sometimes starting over is the best idea. The "Big Chop" can be pretty intimidating, but I promise you will never regret getting rid of that dead and damaged hair to embrace a new beautiful healthy head of hair. Taking care of your natural hair is a learning process. It's okay if you made a few mistakes. Starting over for many people, including myself, has been the best way to learn your hair and begin to truly embrace your natural. Let these tips guide you in your new journey to keep your strands healthy and strong to prevent making the same mistakes twice.