Are your natural curls suffering from damage after too many heat styling sessions? Trust us, we've all been there before. You straighten your hair one too many times or the flat ironed incorrectly and the next thing you know, you're stuck with split ends, and weak and lifeless curls. However, it's not all gloom and doom. With the right techniques, you can get your hair back on track.
In this article, we'll be talking about how to fix your heat damaged curls. Read ahead and find out how to retain your length while on your road to recovery.
What Is Heat Damage?
As the name implies, heat damage is damage that occurs as a result of prolonged exposure of the hair strands to high temperatures. But let's imagine we zoomed into your hair strands and take a look at what actually happens during this process. See, each strand of hair on the head is made up of a protective layer of cells known as the cuticles. These hair cuticles help keep the hair healthy and balanced, letting in only what is needed and protecting the structural proteins that are deep within the innermost part of the hair shaft (the cortex).
Now, when your hair has been exposed to more heat than it can handle, the cuticles become weak and lifted, creating room for cracks in between that protective layer. This means the cortex will become exposed to all sorts of environmental and mechanical aggressors that can break the bonds holding those hair proteins together, leaving your hair weak and rife for all sorts of damage.
Heat damage often happens when you have been using heat too frequently on your hair and your cuticles simply can’t take it anymore. But, it can also happen once as a result of using extremely high temperatures on your heat styling tools. As a rule of thumb, anything over 350 degrees is likely going to be too hot for your hair.
Signs Of Heat Damaged Hair
With your cuticles weakened anything you apply to the hair will likely evaporate really quickly. So, you’ll notice the hair is always dry and brittle no matter how much moisturiser you use.
Tangles And Knots
When your curls are extremely dry from heat damage, they will naturally start to get tangled together since there is no lubrication to separate them. This also increases your chances of ending up with single-strand knots. So, you will notice that combing through your curls will be way more tedious than it normally is.
While curly hair is often prone to a little frizz, heat damage can make things even worse. Weakened or lifted cuticles caused by heat damage means your hair will absorb moisture from a humid environment much faster and will also lose its natural shine and smoothness. As a result, your hairstyles will not last long before they turn into a frizzy mess.
Breakage And Hair Loss
Heat damage leaves your strands weak while also affecting their elasticity. This makes it easier for your hair to snap and start to fall off. This breakage can occur at the ends of your hair in the form of split ends, or it can cause hair loss directly from the roots. Some level of hair loss is quite normal as we naturally lose up to 100 hairs a day but when you notice large chunks of hair coming off your comb when you try to detangle, that is your sign that there is a problem.
Slight change in your hair porosity
Since the cuticles become lifted as a result of the heat damage, you may notice your hair will have significantly more high porosity. If your hair was previously low porosity, this means your curls will start to take a shorter time to dry and when you apply moisturiser, it will evaporate from the hair much quicker.
In the most extreme cases of heat damage, you'll notice that your curls can no longer hold their shape. They will lack the bounciness and elasticity often associated with curly hair. Sometimes, there might even be a minor change in your hair texture. For example, your type 3 curls may start to look more wavy and extremely loose.
How To Fix Heat Damage On Curly Hair
Stop Heat Styling
Your first course of action should be to completely cut back on heat styling. If possible, avoid it completely. Your hair has had enough, and the damage is its way of telling you to stop. If your goal is to stretch your hair, you can opt for heatless stretching methods such as the banding method or simply braiding the hair to keep it stretched. With the banding method, all you have to do is divide the hair into four sections. Then pull the ends of each section tautly and use hair ties or scrunchies to band the hair from root to tip. Leave the hair ties in overnight and by morning you will wake up to naturally stretched hair.
Trim The Damaged Ends
Instead of taking the drastic decision to cut off your hair completely, you can simply trim the ends. This part of the hair is the oldest and often the weaker so it is likely where you will notice the most damage. Start by trimming off about 1-2 inches, depending on how bad the situation is. Then, maintain a consistent routine of trimming every 8-12 weeks to help you gradually get rid of the damage. This will help you maintain your length while your newer, healthier growth comes in.
Deep Conditions More Frequently
Following every wash with a deep conditioner like Sofn'free's Manuka Honey & Avocado Deep Conditioning Mask is also very crucial to restoring the health of your curls. These intense hair masks are designed to repair and nourish the strands so they can help minimise some of the symptoms of heat damage you may be experiencing. Try deep conditioning weekly or every two weeks to hydrate and strengthen the hair. A deep conditioning session will also leave your curls visibly shinier and more bouncy.
Use A Hydrating Shampoo
Keeping your hair moisturised should be one of your main priorities as you try to deal with heat damage. So, it is important to stay away from harsh shampoos that can strip the hair of its natural oils and result in even more dryness. Stick with gentle hydrating shampoos like Sofnfree's Hydration Shampoo With Manuka Honey. These types of shampoos will cleanse your hair while still keeping it well moisturised.
Additionally, try to limit shampoo time to at least once every two weeks. Weekly washes may be a little too much for your curls to handle while they are in such a fragile state. After every wash, be sure to follow up with our Manuka Honey Leave-In Conditioner to infuse the hair with an extra boost of moisture and help make it easier to style detangle and style.
Maintain A Healthy Scalp
Your scalp is the foundation of healthy tresses, so it is crucial to give it a little extra attention during this time. Keep the scalp hydrated and nourished by applying our Strengthening Oil 2-3 times a week. This will not only help strengthen the hair and prevent dryness but the biotin liposome technology we have infused into the formula will ensure delivery and proper absorption of the right nutrients your scalp and hair follicles need to remain healthy and protected.
Consider A Hair Treatment
A protein or bond building treatment can help strengthen weak hair strands, fill in any cracks along the cuticle and also rebuild some of those broken bonds in the hair shaft. So, getting such a treatment can be very helpful for heat damaged hair. Try to find a good hairstylist and talk to them about your concerns and they will determine what kind of treatment would be best for your hair. You can always do a DIY protein treatment if you are pressed for cash, but we would recommend getting any special hair treatment done by a professional to help you get the best results.
Stick With Low Manipulation Hairstyles
The safety of your hairstyles is an often-overlooked aspect of your hair routine when you are trying to fix heat damage. Since your curls are already weak and susceptible to breakage, you do not want to make a hairstyle that could put extra tension on the strands or lead to more damage and breakage. This means tight ponytails, tight braids, and protective styles that require too much manipulation should be avoided as much as possible. Instead, opt for loose buns, wash n’ gos, two-strand twists, and medium-sized cornrows.
Heat damage happens to the best of us. Even though it may be a slight setback for the health of your curls, there is no need to freak out or let it overwhelm you. With the right nourishment and care, your curls will be on the mend and on their way back to being healthy again. Just avoid doing too much to your hair while you kick start the recovery process.