Friday, November 23, 2012

Minimal-Damage Heat Regimen for Healthy Hair

So you are interested in using heat -- be it blow-drying or flat-ironing -- but you are terrified of destroying your healthy hair.  Too many horror stories about split ends and permanently straight strands resulting from heat usage.  Fear of losing the progress you worked so long to achieve.

The truth of the matter is that heat usage does not have to be so scary as long as you know your hair and know its limits.  Additionally, a high-moisture, high-strength, moderate-heat routine is necessary to minimize damage.  The regimen below is a good starting point for those who are ready to incorporate heat styling into their hair care.  However, if you can answer yes to any of the following questions, then I encourage you leave heat usage alone for now: Is your hair currently damaged?  Is your hair brittle or weak?  Is your hair newly colored or bleached?

PREPARING FOR HEAT USAGE:

Wash with a moisturizing shampoo.
With a heat-styling regimen, it is really important to maintain moisturized strands, even during the washing process.  Use of a drying shampoo will translate into more effort spent afterwards restoring moisture to your hair.  On the other hand, use of a moisturizing shampoo will help to lightly condition and moisturize your hair during the washing process.  Shampoos like these usually contain mild (rather than harsh) cleansing agents AND light conditioning ingredients.
Recommendations:  Elucence Moisture Benefits Shampoo, Creme of Nature Argan Oil Moisture and Shine Shampoo

Deep condition with a moisturizing protein conditioner.
Following up with a deep protein conditioner is essential to reinforce the hair shaft for manipulation and heat usage.  However, for those who are protein sensitive or have issues with protein-moisture balance, finding the right deep protein conditioner can be a challenge.  A great option is to try a deep conditioner with the dual role of strengthening (protein) and moisturizing.  Such conditioners will generally contain a hydrolyzed protein (e.g., keratin, collagen) for reinforcement and humectants (e.g, glycerin) for moisture retention.
Recommendations: Organic Root Stimulator Replenishing Pak

Quick condition with a silicone-based conditioner (optional).
This step is ideal for those who desire strands that are more manageable (e.g., easier combing, less tangly) and smoother for heat styling.  Also, if your hair is too hard after the above deep conditioning step, this quick condition will help to soften it.
Recommendations: Most Tresemme and Pantene conditioners

Moisturize with a light water-based product and then seal. (No humectants.)
This is your final moisturizing step prior to applying heat to your hair.  You can simply apply a good oil/butter-based sealant to your damp, conditioned hair or after applying a light water-based moisturizer.  Avoid products with humectants in order to delay reversion and frizz.  Also, avoid overly heavy products which can contribute to buildup.
Moisture recommendations: water, Oyin Hair Dew, KBB's Super Silky Leave-In Conditioner
Sealant recommendations: homemade whipped butter, Oyin Whipped Butter


IF FLAT IRONING:

Airdry in big braids.
Air dry your hair as opposed to blow drying to minimize your heat usage.  Doing so in big braids will stretch the hair better than twists though it will also take longer.

Apply a silicone-based heat protectant.
A good heat protectant will usually contain silicones, such as dimethicone or cyclomethicone, which are the most effective at inhibiting damage.  Applying a heat protectant is necessary to reduce the rate at which heat travels through the hair.  Be sure to apply a sufficient amount and section by section.
Recommendations: Carol's Daughter Macademia, Proclaim Glossing Polish Color and Heat Protection, CHI Silk Infusion

Flat iron using a moderate temperature and no more than two passes.
Read this post on "The Natural Haven" for information on the temperature profile for human hair.  If you do use a setting above 300 degrees F, try not to go above 350 F.  Also, invest in a quality flat iron so that little effort (including minimal passes) is required to achieve the look for which you are aiming.  Also, find one with a temperature dial so that you can control the heat level.


IF BLOW-DRYING:

Apply a silicone-based heat protectant.
A good heat protectant will usually contain silicones, such as dimethicone or cyclomethicone, which are the most effective at inhibiting damage.  Applying a heat protectant is necessary to reduce the rate at which heat travels through the hair.  Be sure to apply a sufficient amount and section by section.
Recommendations: Carol's Daughter Macademia, Proclaim Glossing Polish Color and Heat Protection, CHI Silk Infusion

Blow dry using the tension method (no combs or brushes).
Read more (and view tutorials) about it in this earlier post.  Also, it is less damaging to blow dry on damp hair rather than sopping wet hair.  Investing in one with a diffuser is ideal to evenly distribute the heat across your hair.


HOW OFTEN?

Alternate between your heat-styling routine and no-heat styles.
Wear your straight hair for 2-3 weeks and then air dried no-heat styles (e.g., twists, buns, braids, roller set) the rest of the time.  Whether you choose to wear heat-styled looks twice a year or twelve times a year is up to you and your preference.  However, the lower your frequency of heat usage, the better your hair will fair in the long run.

6 comments:

  1. Very good information~thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great Post I love all the helpful info that I'm reading on heat styling lately.

    ReplyDelete