DIRECT HEAT: the natural girls nemesis

Friday, March 19, 2010

Good morning lovelies, I hope your week was absolutely fab.

I just got to work, and already I keep sneaking glances at the clock hoping for some fast forward time warp miracle.. ah well!

Today I would like to talk about heat damage and natural hair. Something that, in my experience, strongly attributes to the various reasons as to why afro hair "does not grow".

Heat damage is one of those irreversible conditions; once the damage is done, its done. Allow me to try and explain the harsh effects of excessive heat:
Direct and excessive heat breaks the natural protein bonds in the hair structure and at the same time destroys the cuticle. The cuticle acts as a protective barrier for the inner layer. Once the cuticle is damaged, the inner layer is exposed and breaks due to vulnerability, dryness and moisture loss.

This is why heat damage is not something that can be undone. Natural heat damaged hair will lose its curl definition and refuse to revert when wet (it will literally not shrink! gasp!!). This is one sure way of finding out whether or not your hair might be damaged from heat; the inability to revert and curl back into its natural curl pattern (4b, 3c etc). Trust me, you will know.

Yikes right? I cringe as I recall my past hair salon visits where I demanded a good strong blowdry... with extra hair oil. I literally used to FRY my hair.. Yikes.

FAQs on heat damage:
1. "Is there anything I can do to repair the damage that is already done?"
I would recommend a series of protein treatments to help repair some of the damaged hair. In cases of heat damage, I have found that mild protein treatments help. Since hair is composed primarily of protein, protein treatments bond to the hair to keep the damage at bay, as opposed to it getting worse. They help to rebuild the hair structure using the protein to help "fill in the gaps" in the hair strands, so to speak. Please note: once heat damage reaches the point of no return, your only available option is to trim or cut the damaged ends.
2. "What can I do to protect my hair from heat damage?"
Purchase a good quality heat protectant lotion, serum or spray. They might be costly (KSH 600 -900) but they are well worth it. A heat protectant substance bears the brunt of the heat we expose our hair to and acts as a protective layer for your hair. Also, avoid using the maximum setting on your blowdrier, curling iron or flat iron; this will minimize the potential harm. And lastly, AVOID HEAT ENTIRELY!! that has been my motto for the past few months and I my hair has grown insanely since.
3. "Is all heat absolutely bad for my hair?"
I will never speculate that all hair is similar; there are some happy success stories of naturals who dabble comfortably with heat (whilst taking the necessary precautions of course) while others speak of horror and gore when asked about heat and their hair. I believe that once you know what to do to protect your hair and once you know of the potential harm involved in your actions you will make the right decisions. Keep in mind that ones hair should NEVER SMOKE when dealing with heat! Also, it is advisable to restrict ones self to heat sessions as rare as once every three - four months. (You can take these moments to do length checks and trimmings!)
I hope this post has been helpful. Watch this space for more posts on day to day hair care and for more DO's and DON'Ts. Have a lovely and safe weekend!

Mad love!

Pic courtesy of
Anonymous said...


This is really good information - Bosa stresses that we must realise that smoking dens (estate saloons, which we all trust to supa-blow-dry our hair) should be a thing of the past. A word to our natural beauties out there - please register as voters - your vote - despite high risks that it might disappear, like a fading hairline - is still important - we can as Kenyan work out these and many hair raising issues in due course - Kenyan and proud

Anonymous said...

there's information on the web about doing a beer rinse to revert heat damaged hair because it contains high levels of protein which is in keeping with your first point :)

Nyashy Washy said...

I have heard about beer rinsing and I am not sure I want to go through the smell of beer and I much prefer beer in a glass rather than in my hair but I shall definitely try that and do a post on it.

Laine Didi Lina said...

nice blog honey =)

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