Healthy Hair Care, Reader Questions

Why (NO) Heat?

If you are on a hair journey, especially if you document it on some form of social media/internet forum, you probably are very familiar with the inquisitive looks/comments about why you do what you do to your hair.  For me I often get comments along the lines of, “nice hair, but you do a lot… ”  Based on that, I decided to do a mini series addressing why I do what I do with my hair.  Why do you deep condition? Why don’t you don’t you use heat? Why do you use 2-3 leave-in treatments? Why do you have so many conditioners? …The first stop on this series is Heat:

Heat Is Not the Enemy.
Why no heat? …Well, first let’s start off with why I, and everyone else, likes heat?  Flat irons, blow dryers, curling irons and even hooded dryers all guarantee that we can walk the “streets” with smooth, sleek, shiny, soft, flowing hair.  My best hair days are undoubtedly those that come from a wash day that used one or more of these tools.  And with those show stopping results it’s no wonder that women of all hair types appreciate the boost they get from using heat tools.  
Too Much of A Good Thing.
But too much of a good thing can sometimes wreak havoc and, in the case of heat tools the same is true.  There comes a point with every head of hair that you can tip the balance and use your heat tools too frequently.  How do you know this has happened to you? Well, there are several signs:
  • your hair’s natural shine has become dull and lackluster;
  • you are finding more small broken hairs than normal — breakage;
  • your ends are dry, brittle, and/or frizzy;
  • your hair isn’t as full, bouncy and flowing — loss of volume/overall thickness; and/or
  • your hair strands begin to lose elasticity
How does this happen?
While these heat tools are great in their ability to give us the sleek results that we want (straight or curly), they also remove moisture from our hair, which isn’t a deal breaker in and of itself.  But too much heat can remove too much moisture and lead to one or more of the signs above.  Whether you are trying to attain longer length or maintain your current length, none of those things listed above are desirable.

If you are not experiencing any of the signs listed above then you in your sweet spot and using heat at an optimal frequency for your hair.  However, if you are noticing some of the changes above, then you are going to have to figure out how much heat your hair can tolerate through trial and error.  The easiest thing to do is to pull back a little and see if it helps.  For example: if you use it weekly, try every other week.  

But No Heat? Why?
Given the fact that there is a sliding scale on where we all can comfortably use heat with minimal damage, why am I (and other ladies) on this “no heat thing.”  Well, I think of No heat like I think of No Sweets or No Alcohol or No Caffeine.  None of these things are needed in our life (and too much them leads to bad results), but when we use it it gives us some “other” benefit.  Which means you can safely eliminate it for optimal health.  And that’s the same thinking I have with heat.  When I eliminate heat tools completely, I know that there is a greater opportunity for optimal hair health because my hair won’t be subjected to the possible side effects.  While I don’t intend to never use heat again, I am avoiding it for now to obtain maximum length retention and maintain thickness.  
How much heat can you safely use on your hair journey?
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24 thoughts on “Why (NO) Heat?

  1. Kim, great posting, this is off topic, what is your professional, you're an excellent writer and your post is well written and very extremely informed. I just love to read your post and please don't stop blogging; I learn a lot and look forward to your posting. Thanks

  2. Great post Kim. I limit direct heat use to 4-5 times a year because I experience increase in breakage when I use heat too frequently, especially my ends – they take a beating. I want to decrease the few times I use heat to maybe twice a year.

  3. I Think the flat iron is the most damageing tool. With the others you dont manipulate the hair Much. With the flat iron, you press the hair and then you slide the Iron along you length, with heat. Im convinced that is pressing out all the natural material your hair is made of if you do it on a regular basis. I used to flat iron years ago and My hair become almost see through. I went from Brown hair to light Brown. Since then i ve put the flat iron away. The flat iron is Much more damageing to My hair than relaxer so i used that instead.

    Looking forward to you post about leave ins. I ve always wondered why people are using so many at the same time instead of finding one that has all in it.

  4. Yes, that's what I experienced from using a flat iron and blow dryer weekly for 3 years. My hair didn't grow and got thinner, it was the worst. It's what prompted me to start a hair journey because I could not figure out what was going wrong.

  5. i think the straighteners is the most damaging too.. since i went fully natural my hair just reverts right back anyway so iw wont straighten it again 🙂 i think i will blow dry occasionally though..x

  6. I agree that they are probably the most damaging especially when you're using them at high temps, like 450 degrees F. I wish I could say, I'll never use a flat iron, but I know myself too well to say that.Lol But I do avoid them except for special occasions.

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