A few years ago I followed some women who used heat training to keep their hair long and watched in awe as they retained every inch of hair they managed to grow.
My fascination with their method’s was pretty much based on taboo. The fact that all the information around me said there is no way heat can be used in a positive way.
Heat damage will ensure that your hair is a goner, we all knew that right? The promise of hair ruin was so strong that I thought if I even looked at a flat iron wrong I would lose all my hair.
The concept of heat training has been explored by us before, we even had a lady who used this regimen contribute to the blog sharing her experience with us. Unfortunately she suffered serious damage (after the article) from being too careless with heat causing massive breakage and dryness.
So much for that then, yet we know that there have been others who have been very successful over the years. How then can heat be used in your regimen to help you retain length? Is it even possible?
If you like using heat and you want it to ‘work’ for you, you must be smart and it does help to have a bit of guidance. So here goes….
How does heat actually affect your hair?
Your hair strands are primarily made up of protein bonds, and heat breaks some of those bonds to get your hair from curly to straight. The higher the heat the straighter the hair will get and if you use enough heat the bonds in your hair will break permanently, meaning that the curls will not return. This is what we call heat damage.
When your hair is heat damaged the heat from your tools have depleted the bonds in the strands so much that they can no longer curl, it can be so bad that your strands become porous, dry looking, brittle and start to split.
Your hair can become a damaged mess and the only thing you can do to fix it, is to cut your damaged hair off. What if there was a way to still use heat but still retain length? In this post we have 7 suggestions that you can try:
1. Use direct heat just once a month
If you must use a flat iron then you will more than likely have to give up weekly washes. No matter how you slice it, those with type 4 hair cannot withstand the amount of manipulation and wear and tear that comes with getting their hair from curly to straight on a weekly basis; not without regular breakage anyway.
As a matter of fact the women I told you about, even though they rock straight long hair, they do not use their flat irons weekly. What they do is cleanse and deep condition and straighten their hair once a month.
The other thing they do is protective style – a lot!- so that they can stretch the time between using heat styling tools. So, your perception of what you think they are doing is often wrong.
2. Deep condition with heat before using heat
Yes I know that this seems a bit cheeky on my part but if you are heat styling and not heat deep conditioning* you are being very unfair to your hair.
Heat helps your cuticle layers to open up and let all the vital proteins and nutrients from your products into the strands to fortify each and everyone of them. Always deep condition before using any sort of direct heat on your hair to give your strands a better chance of avoiding damage.
3. Roller sets
Rollers are ten times healthier than flat irons* because you can get your hair ‘straight’ without the direct heat of heating plates.
An over head hair dryer* circulates the hot or warm air around your rollers to dry your hair which is less damaging than flat irons*. You can retain loads of lengths with roller sets because your hair will be stretched keeping your ends free of knots and tangles.
You will minimize the chance of heat damage and have the best of both words. Plus big barrel curls are very sexy!
4. Protein treat more regularly
To retain length while using heat you have to use protein in your regimen more often than you do when you don’t use heat. On the days you deep condition, if you do not have protein in your deep conditioner*, do not even look at your flat iron.
Protein builds your strand and helps to prevent damage and remember that over time heat increases the porosity of your hair, thus making protein even more important the more you use heat.
We are not saying deep conditioning* is guaranteed to prevent heat damage, we are saying if you like using heat you absolutely must have protein in your regimen.
5. Heat free styles
This is not counter productive to this post, I promise you. Have you ever wondered why someone appears to be addicted to their flat iron? Trust me when I tell you it has nothing to do with the iron but just the way they look with straight hair. If they could duplicate the same look without the use of the flat iron* they would do it in a heartbeat.
This is why the term ‘heat free styles’ catches everyone’s attention. When you hear heat free you know that immediately someone is about to show you the look you want without all the damage that comes from heat.
It is good to have options so if you do have a heat habit, you can stretch the time between using the flat iron* by practicing styles that are heat free but still give you sleek smooth results. Roller sets we mentioned earlier, curlformers are great too, and flexi-rods are always popular methods of getting smooth curls without heat.
6. Pick just one heat tool
This is one habit I notice that women who retain length with heat practice faithfully. They either blow dry only and finish with a heat free style like a braid out or another set on their stretched hair, or they pre stretch their hair without heat and then flat iron, to get a smooth finish. Consider the one you want to eliminate and get rid of it.
7. Fine haired girls beware
If you have fine hair, regardless of precautions, your chances of surviving a heat based regimen is very low. If your hair is fine, consider avoiding the flat iron on a regular basis. Heat free styles, roller sets and other low manipulation styles are best for your hair.
Ladies it is possible to have the best of both worlds even if you like heat, but there are some serious considerations you must take if you want to retain length. But yes, you can still have long hair using heat I have seen it with my own eyes!