In the first part of this post we were just getting into the assessment behind the use of a relaxer versus regular heat. We examined the bond structure of the hair strand and how each is altered based on heat or chemical use. Building on that, the story then gets a little sticky.
When we add minimal heat as mentioned before we are solely affecting the hydrogen bonds of the hair. This means you can essentially wear your hair straight and go right back to curly if you choose to do so as long as you are taking all the proper precautions by using heat protectant*.
Sometimes high heat can adversely affect the proteins that form the bonds in our hair causing the hair structure to be permanently altered, this is known as heat damage that leaves originally curly hair straight or wavy.
Some women choose to use heat as their main source of altering the bonds of the hair so that the hair is straighter and straighter with every heat application. We like to affectionately call this process heat training with a smile. Others however may look at it as intentionally damaging your hair for the sake of having straight hair (side eye and knitted brow).
It’s worth a mention that if you are natural and wear your hair straightened all the time, you are in fact heat training your hair anyway.
In contrast when you relax your hair, you are making the choice to permanently alter the bonds of the hair to ensure that it remains straight. Relaxers in this way are similar to heat training because they are both controlled methods of altering the structure of your hair and in doing so you have created a mane that is easier for you to handle.
Now applying the term damage to either scenario is definitely too strong a word with some very negative connotations because both relaxed and heat trained hair can in fact be very healthy and women have achieved their goals even after altering the structure of their hair.
Truly damaged hair is defined as hair that has lost it’s structural integrity, tensile strength, elasticity, is unnaturally porous, dull, limp and brittle. Quite a mouthful huh? Just like our ladies on the weight loss journeys if there is no balance there is no success, so we still have to be mindful in either scenario to prevent true damage.