Hey everyone and Happy Tuesday, we are 2 days down have 3 more to go before the weekend. Woohoo! Today for my Tuesdays Hair post, I wanted to talk about my experience in ditching heat tools on my hair, what I have found, what I have learnt and my advice to anyone else who is interested in doing the same thing.
I am sure that most of you know that excessive straightening and blow drying can cause a massive amount of damage to hair. For me personally this is something I have only very recently learned. I spent most of my weekends as a teenager working and getting my hair done in my mums hair salon. I watched customer after customer, wash then blow dry, wash then set, curl hair, press, straighten, even dread- locking hair required heat! At no time in all of my experience did I ever see a customer leave that salon without some form of heat touching their hair. I genuinely thought that every time I washed my hair, in order to get it straight, I would need to blow it out then straighten it. At one stage I started to get bored of having straight hair, so I would leave my hair in its curly state after washing, then slather it with products and not tend to it again. I noticed when I first ever relaxed my hair, it was a 3a consistency, big, tame, ringlet curls. By the time I decided I was happy to leave it curly, it had turned into horrible, undefined, frizzy waves that I had to scrunch in to place. This – little did I know – was the first signs of heat damage.
I explained in a previous post that my natural hair texture if 4b. As mentioned, when relaxed it became a clear 3a before straightening. Here is the thing, the curlier the hair the more fragile it is! At every curling point along the strand, there is a potential point of breakage which means adding any type of stress – that doesn’t add moisture but instead strip – can cause breakage. Heat tools or appliances are number one stresses for hair. They can cause the cuticles of your strands to be stripped off or break away from the surrounding fibres. This is because heat tools and appliances instantly drain moisture from your hair which can cause the outer layer (the cuticles) to expand and trap moisture from reaching length of hair. This is especially apparent when there is no heat protecting conditioner, lotion or spray, or if the heat appliances are used at levels that are too high.
The more heat damage you have, the more you require heat to make it look healthy again. You end up in this vicious cycle and just like me, become reliant on it. I have very recently been forced to give up using heat because coincidentally, my straighteners suddenly started acting weird, and every time I put on my blow dryer, it smelt like it was going to blow up and had a really scary sounding ring to it when on… Quite frankly I haven’t been able to afford to replace them, so I spoke to my mum and she enlightened me to the choice of air drying hair, which apparently was what she used to do when I was younger for years. As I begun to google tips on how best to air dry hair, I was overloaded with information on how bad heat is, what heat damage looks like, then like a massive switch everything completely clicked in to place.
So can I ever counteract the years worth of damage I have done to my hair?
Unfortunately not instantly, but there are good practises we can put in place to help our hair grow out in the healthiest possible way. I have completely ditched the idea of replacing my hair straighteners and blow dryer for now. I am not going to pretend that is an easy decision, as over ten years following the story of me seeing the first signs of (my newly understood) heat damage, my hair has become even worse. It is so hard to go from sleek moveable hair, to breaking, dry, kind of wavey – mainly frizzy hair. I deal with it through protective hair styling. This would be one or two big braids/twists, otherwise buns so my hair is hidden and resting. Additionally, I have really got in to natural virgin oils off late which I will write a blog post about soon. Many of which help hair growth and health, and adds necessary and healing moisture to hair shaft. I have gone back to wrapping my hair at night with a silk scarf. This is great as it keeps hair smooth and soft for when I wake up, no damage or matte, dry locks to wake up to. Lastly, I have grasped the importance of deep conditioning and leave in conditioners. This is massively essential when air drying hair, as without the use of heat your hair is more susceptible to dryness and brittleness. Deep Conditioning and Leave In conditioners are fantastic at softening and strengthening the hair so it can look and be its best. I will be writing future posts regarding these too.
If you too think you are addicted to heat and thinking of ditching, always think of the old English saying: Keep Calm and Carry On. I have found it challenging to say the least going from my straight and healthy looking hair to the air dried version, but honestly after a month of doing it, I am already seeing improvement. My hair feels softer, less hair is coming out when I brush it and it is starting to look more shiny as well. It is something you have to start, knowing that you won’t stop till you are finished. With every trim your hair will get better and better, and grow more evenly and healthy. I would also say, don’t feel like you can never ever use heat again. It is my cousins wedding next month, and I may straighten my hair for that. Just be sure to deep condition before and with your next wash, and use good heat protecting products on it. Lastly, try and fall in love with your new hair – probably the hardest task of them all. As I said before, it will improve bit by bit, and with every defining curl and decrease in hair loss when brushing, your love will truly begin to blossom.