One of our most popular articles is Natural Hair Gone Wrong: Heat Damage from Straightening and judging by the comments, heat damage is something that many naturals have experienced along their journey.
This article is not geared to sway you towards or against heat training but to lay out a few facts that will shed some light on a very convoluted and muddy topic. Let’s draw a line in the sand; heat training on one side and heat styling on the other and let’s take a look see.
What is heat training?
Heating training natural hair is when a flat iron, pressing comb, blow dryer, marcel curling irons or any heating appliance is used for the sole purpose of changing, loosening or altering your natural curl pattern. The result is a looser texture throughout the strands of your hair; however, as your hair grows from your scalpit will be your natural curl pattern. The hair slowly loses elasticity, the hydrogen and disulfide bonds are altered slowly but surely and the hair shrinks and coils less. Heat training can be thought of as a slow and methodical process with no visible damage, i.e. breakage, excessive dryness, split ends, etc.
What is heat damage?
Heat damaged natural hair is a result of using heating appliances at too high of a temperature for your hair and/or using the heating appliances too frequently. Let me repeat that, too high of temperatures or too frequent for your hair. As a result of heat damage, the hair becomes excessively dry and brittle, experiences breakage, split ends, etc.
Am I against using heat appliances? Of course not; I transitioned from relaxed hair to natural hair by flat ironing my hair. Read my natural hair story here.
According to the definition above, I heat trained my natural hair but I used my flat irons on the lowest setting possible and my purpose was to blend my textures to avoid breakage, not to make my natural texture bone straight to match my relaxed ends.
What’s my advice?
If you plan to use heating appliances and you want to preserve your natural texture as much as possible, reduce how often you use heat and reduce the temperature of the appliance.
If you plan to use heat, always use a heat protectant, not oil.
If you plan to use heat, always use appliances that have more than an on and off switch. Look for appliances with adjustable heating settings. You need to have the option of turning the temperate down when desired. If your heating appliance has a different temperature control other than Celsius or Fahrenheit, call the manufacture, your hair will depend on it.
If you decide to wear a straight wig or weave, get a full wig or weave and not a partial. This way you do not have to constantly apply heat to your hair to make the textures and curl patterns match. You also have the option of wearing curly styles instead.
Did you know that once the hair no longer returns to it’s natural state of curliness, you have to start over with a big chop or transition to have the curls and coils back that you once had? I think it is too much of a gamble because you don’t know when too much is too much and where that fine line will be drawn and when your hair will not revert back.
Are they the same?
Essentially, I think heat training and heat damage are the same. Although the damage is more gradual to the composition of the hair strand, it is still damaged even if it is not immediately visible.
What are your thoughts on heat training and heat damage?