As a kid, I always had very long curly hair and I was always very proud of that. But when I started attending high school this changed. I didn’t necessarily hate the way my hair looked, but I wanted to fit in with the rest of the girls at my school. Most of whom had beautiful flowy hair. Unlike the other girls at school I had long, poofy and curly hair and as endearing as being called a poodle may be, I just didn't want to resemble a dog (obviously). This is when I discovered the might of the flat iron, which had to power to transform this little poodle into a flowy haired princess. What started with flat ironing my hair on only special occasions, quickly turned into a weekly and sometimes even a daily occurrence. My hair soon lost its volume, became dull, started breaking off and my curls turned into straight ends. The damage was so severe that my hair no longer looked beautiful when straightened, but it was also a mess when curly. That’s when I knew I had to do something about the heat damage. This blogpost is going to be all about the steps I took and how they worked for me.
STOP USING HEAT!
In caps and all, because I know my heat junkies have a big problem with this one. Put away your blow dryer, flat iron and curling iron, because you won’t be needing those any more. Some of you may be thinking: ‘but what if I use a heat protector?’ The heat protector will not protect your already damaged hair against excessive styling and it definitely won’t bring your hair back to life. Most people think that they can get away with using too much heat on their hair just because they are using a heat protector, but the truth is, there is only so much that a heat protector can do for your hair. By continuing to put heat on your hair you will only damage your hair more. Your best bet is to completely eliminate what has been causing the damage in the first place.
Stop manipulating your hair
When your hair has heat damage it is more susceptible to break, because the hair becomes weaker. Styling your hair everyday may break your hair. The less you do to your hair, the less chance you have of further damage. Cut out all the things you do to manipulate your hair. Coloring your hair especially can be very harsh and damaging to your hair. Also hairstyles that are too tight can cause your hair to break off.
This is one of those things I never even bothered to do before I started doing research on my natural hair. Deep conditioning is extremely important, because it adds moisture, shine, protein (all the good stuff) and helps to strengthen your hair. There are so many good deep conditioners and hair masks out there. Here's a link of my favourite deep conditioner, but if you don’t want to spend ridiculous amount of cash on a hair mask you could also make one at home (I add castor and coconut oil to all the hair masks I make). Adding a deep conditioner into my hair routine is definitely what made my hair grow so fast and so strong.
Just cut it off!
I understand that some of you may be a little hesitant, but hear me out. Some people can wake up and just go and get a big chop, but for a girl who’s always had long hair, the idea of all of the sudden having none at all kind of freaked me out. So, if you’re anything like me, I recommend transitioning. Give your hair the rest it need and slowly chop of some of the damaged hair as the new and healthy hair grows. At one point I had to decide whether I wanted long, dull and damaged hair or whether I wanted short but healthy and bouncy hair. Healthy should always win. After my hair grew out long enough, I decided to cut all of the remaining damaged hair off. I ended up with shorter, but beautiful hair.
Dive into Protective Hairstyling
I know I said to stop manipulating your hair, but this is the one thing that will help your hair grow. There are different hairstyles that help protect your hair from the environment. Especially, during the harsh cold winter months, it is extremely important to keep those ends tucked in. Before transitioning, I had never before heard of protective hairstyling. I was a complete noob! But after doing my research I stumbled upon so many different hairstyles, and believe me I have tried many of them. A protective hairstyle minimizes how often you manipulate your hair. My favorites are box braids. I usually keep them in for a good 3 to 4 weeks and during that time I don't have to worry about my hair at all.( Because I’m lazy to do my hair) This also allows your hair to grow without it breaking off (remember that your damaged hair becomes dry, gets tangled up easily and can break off the healthier hair). Crown braids, dutch braids and french braids are also good alternatives. Play around with different protective hairstyles and find one that works for you and that fits your personality.
I am an extremely impatient person. It’s not something I am proud of, but I am working on it. So, believe me when I tell you that this is the hardest part of the whole process. Just waiting for your hair to grow, when we all just want to see quick results. Unfortunately, it only takes one time styling your hair with heat to cause heat damage, but it will take you months to grow that hair back. I started transitioning in 2013. That’s when I chopped my hair into a bob and started to grow my natural hair out. It is only in 2016 that I cut all of the remaining damaged hair off. So it was a very long process. It’s now 2018 and I love my hair. It’s the longest I think I’ve ever had it. It’s curly, bouncy, strong and shiny and just love the way it looks.
These are simply some of the steps I took to grow back my hair after I had damaged it with heat. During those three long years, I probably only styled my hair once a year and now I still enjoy having my hair straight, but the way I chose to use heat on my hair has completely changed, as well as the reason why I choose to use heat on my hair. I know a few natural hair bloggers that well versed in styling hair with heat, but without damaging it. Let me know if we should do a collab in the comments below. I hope this has been helpful to you and has set you on your path to healthier hair.