Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Heat Training: The "Benefits"

{Stretched texture shot}
heat training /hēt ˈtrāniNG/  Noun
the loosening of one's natural curl pattern through the regular application of high heat.  This process is usually gradual and subtle. (Loo's definition.)

Heat training is essentially a form of heat damage, which is why I have been so against the technique for some years.  However, my thoughts have changed recently since seeing a class of "healthy" heat-trained naturals arise.  Here is one of these naturals sharing her views: Longhairdontcare2011.

"Healthy heat-trained hair" may seem like an oxymoron but I can argue the same with "healthy hair".  Our strands face damage on a regular basis through sun exposure, styling, washing, detangling, and other forms of wear and tear.  So where do we drawn the line between what is healthy hair and what is not?  I think it reasonable to draw it between hair that is strong and supple (healthy) and that which is breaking and brittle (unhealthy). To me, hair that retains a reasonable level of strength and suppleness is hair that is healthy.  That being said, there is such a thing as heat-trained hair that is strong, supple, ... and thus healthy.  However, this is only true for some ladies.  Keep in mind that heat training can work well for some naturals and not so well for others.  For the former group I answer the following question ...


1. Easier Detangling ...
comes with a loosening of the curl pattern. For some naturals, the mass of curls/coils/kinks makes detangling a very tedious task. Generally, I’d say, “suck it up”, but as my hair has gotten longer, I can truly understand how brutal such a task can be for some naturals.  It can be brutal to the point of mechanical damage (e.g., breakage from impatient combing sessions).

2. Fewer SSKs ...
will form if the hair is heat trained.  What is a single-strand knot (SSK)?  It is essentially a knot formed from a strand of hair that has wrapped around itself.  What is a conducive environment for SSKs?  A mass of coils and kinks.  SSKs translate into more trims and sometimes breakage.  Heat training or other hair care steps (read here) can mitigate this issue.

3. Length Retention ...
comes with easier detangling and fewer SSKs.  "Proper" heat training can theoretically help some naturals achieve longer lengths.  Will I ever heat train for length retention?  In all honesty, I do not know yet.

4. Increased Versatility ...
is another benefit of heat training.  It becomes easier to achieve stretched or straight styles when desired.  Additionally, these styles will last longer.


  1. I am really scared of using heat in my hair. I can see how it can help with length retention as it reduces tangles and single strand knots.

  2. I liked that she pointed out in the video to not heat train as a way to loosen your curl pattern or heat train with that in mind. Rather, use heat to make managing your hair easier... I myself am deathly afraid of using heat on my hair because I would hate to damage my curl pattern. I haven't used heat since I've been completely natural.

  3. I haven't used heat in well over a year, and I have to say my length has really taken off. I know this is a combination of factors, since eliminating heat was just one step of many I have taken to care for my hair properly. But, the battle against SSKs and tangles has me wondering if it might be worth ending the heat veto. Honestly, though, I think I'd rather learn to master my hair and achieve maximum length WITHOUT the aid of heat.

  4. I just want to say that I totally appreciate this post. I've been afraid of heat, but the truth is, it can be applied appropriately. Giving you a s/o on my blog today :). Thanks.


  5. @Monique: You're welcome, and wow, thanks! :o)

  6. Heat train equals damaged hair period! No matter what it looks like! Have you ladies seen her recent video, she is actually loosing alot of hair in a week! I have long hair as well and I don't loose that much hair hardly at all, just a little tiny bulb!But she is! I think the heat and products are catching up with the wear and tear of her hair, her ends are thin! My hair is too my breast and I have only being natural 2 in a half years, because I only put natural products in my hair and I rarely ever uses heat! When I started off I did, but now I don't! My hair rarely comes out and my hair is healthier! Heat training is just an excuse to want straight hair and so as for texturizers, we all know these things aint healthy! So why do we still use them? So like I said heat train hair is heat damaged point blank and simple!

  7. Well Obviously different strokes for different folks.

  8. Hair is DEAD... there is nothing like "health" hair. If someone wants her hair in locs.... nobody complains. If she dyes it... beautiful. If someone wants her hair straightened, then it's a crime? Hair is just an accessory, I don't understand what all this fuss is about. Whatever one wants from HER hair is what she should get. EVERYTHING we do to our hair once it leaves the follicle causes some form of damage- water cuses Hygral Fatigue, combing causes split ends, etc. So I don't get it when someone wants to heat train her hair everyone screams "damage." We all have our hair goals and aspirations... and if her hair is in a good condition the way SHE likes it, it's in a GOOD CONDITION.

  9. humm, after 3 years of being natural and not being found of flat ironing I have considered this option as well, to make detangling easier.. I'd like to know what your journey has been like with this.

    1. Hi Chan. I haven't started heat training and don't know if I will. But I do use heat with the knowledge that accidental heat training may occur over time. I had a heavy heat regimen this summer and did notice easier detangling (since my hair was straight much of the time). I also noticed fewer to no SSKs. Right now I'm taking a break from using heat. If/when I go back to it, it will largely be for styling and detangling ease moreso than for permanent loosening of the kinks. I hope that helps!