Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Heat Training: Her Hair is not Your Hair

Some more readers questions!

Comment: Is heat trained hair automatically damaged hair because it is permanently altered? I ask this question because there are women who heat train but yet they still maintain very thick, long hair that appears to be healthy, and in my opinion damaged hair means hair that is unusually thin, dry and rough, brittle, with excessive breakage and split ends. So this made me wonder if it were possible to heat train without excessive amounts of damage? There are two women on youtube that seem to have successfully accomplish this, which is what sparked my curiosity.

Q:Is heat trained hair automatically damaged?
Yes heat trained hair is damaged because in order to stay straight or 'straighter', the hair has to undergo a chemical and physical change.

Similarly colour treated hair where permanent commercial hair dye or bleach is used is also damaged but can look fantastic.

Q: Is it possible to heat train hair without excessive damage?

The reason why some people can have heat trained hair is because their hair is able to take more damage without breaking or indeed becoming rough and brittle - we have to remember always that as individuals we have different hair.

For example: My hair breaks at the mere sight of a comb but I have seen 4abcxyz girls on youtube combing with fine tooth combs and having no visible damage. Equally my hair really never looks greasy - ever, you can pour a bottle of oil on it and will not look sleek at all, but for some people a teaspoon of coconut oil sends them to grease heaven.

Q: How can heat training be made safer or less risky?

Trust your hair, if you have previously used heat and realised that your hair really did not like it, it is unlikely that things will have changed. If you want to heat train your hair, try testing it out on some of your shed hair. Test different temperatures and try out the routine you would like on that hair (for example apply heat to it once a week for a month and see if it becomes brittle or dry.).

The important take home message is that her hair is not your hair. Don't ever trust that what you see on youtube will work or is in fact good for your hair. Trust the message from your hair.

Please see this archive article for notes on what different temperatures do to hair and how you can select a lower temperature. 

13 comments:

  1. The last bit of advice "her hair is not your hair" is so very important to learn and learn quickly. In the year I have been taking care of my own natural hair (3 years since last perm) it is something I have embraced. Just because something works/doesn't work, looks good/bad for someone else does not equate to my hair reacting the same way. I have learned to trust my hair and myself in this past year and that is the best thing about being natural to me.

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  2. My hair just seems to have problems with hot combs, relaxers, and commercial hair dyes. So,keeping my hair natural is better for me. Some women I know can hot comb, relax, and brush their hair. Their hair appears to look healthy with no breakage. But me! Just does not work out for me.

    Jc, I know that henna just colors the cuticle of the hair strand, but is henna in the same category as commercial hair dyes? Or is henna less damaging to the hair strand since the henna only coats the cuticle of the hair strand and not into the cortex of the hair? What I am trying to state is, damage is damage no matter if the hair is commercially dyed or henna?

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  3. Ronnie so true!

    Anon - Henna is different because it builds onto the hair and does not require the cuticle to be lifted.

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  4. I am glad you made this post. I have enjoyed blowdrying my hair periodically for my twist. I like that they hang a little longer for a couple of days. I have been so afraid of heat damage that I don't do it more than 1-2 times per year. I think sometimes goals of long hair may prevent you from enjoying your hair at the present time. As much as I want a shoulder lenght afro, I am starting to question are such extreme restrictions needed.

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  5. this doesn't qualify as heat training - i get my hair blow dried and straightened once a year for a trim - but i still have a question: Jc - as per you other post, if the heat is below 150 C or less, it's just the water that's lost, right? no damage done to the structure?

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  6. Lady Jaye - In general, yes it is just water that is lost but some damage may be done to the cuticle for example if you use a comb attachment or if you blow dry dripping wet hair (remember the bubbles in hair post). So yes with proper practice (i.e dry off hair first, use tools that do not overheat and a suitably sized comb or just gentle stretching) then the internal hair structure should not be damaged.

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  7. Wouldn't it be better to blow dry damp hair and not dry hair? Wouldn't dry hair be a lot more likely to break even if a cool setting was used?

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  8. Damp but not dripping wet hair is ok Leena. Dry hair actually is much stronger than wet hair but I am still searching for more research on stretching hair and blow drying.

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  9. This is a really useful sit you have here. I'm mixed blk+white and have learned through trial and error how to style my hair. My sister and I have similar hair and trade info but that's about it in terms of figuring out what to do. I live in a white area and hairdressers panic when I come in for anything.

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  10. it really irritates me that whites, Indians, Spanish, and other races can blow dry and flat iron their hair and they are still considered natural with undamaged hair but when black people do it it's damaged hair even when the hair reverts back we call it damaged??? not everyone wants to airdry and wait till the next day to have dry hair. That does not mean blow drying to make the hair more manageable and dry quicker is a bad thing. All other races do it. why cant we? I always feel that black people are way to hard on themselves and their hair. putting everything in a box. if blow drying and flat ironing helps grows some natural hair long and thick how is it damage? i would think hair that is damage is hair that is neglected. before perms and relaxers we always use to press and hot comb our hair and it was longer and thicker then when relaxers came out that damaged our hair. I say it's time to go back to our roots.

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    1. Regardless of race, any form of heat treatment is damaging. Additionally there are many naturals who have to transition out of heat damaged hair simply because it breaks more and it cannot be styled as easily.............the less heat you apply to your hair, the less damage it incurs......simple as.

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  11. This is the truth! I am a natural who is transitioning out of heat damage! My heat damaged hair is a lot straighter but also thinner, has bubbles, and split ends.

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  12. I believe it's about the "technique" There is a right and wrong to do anything. Even over ex-poser of things that are good for us can be a bad thing. For example, drinking too much water can cause you to urinate the good things your body needs. Too much air can suffocate you. and so forth. Heat damage occurs when your technique is off/not right. Listen to your hair. It will let you know when something is not right or when it's all good. If you don't know your hair and or you ignore it, the consequence is damage same as with relaxers. It's about routine, technique, and consistency. Train your hair to do and react the way you want it. And if it screams, "that's not working" STOP and try something else. The truth is women are growing their hair natural, relaxed, and heat trained and they are successful at it. Baby steps first - Test your hairs feel and reaction. Be patient! And remember it's just hair and it should not define you - your knowledge of life should.

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