Heat damage is a condition that results when strands of hair are exposed to instant extreme heat or repeated use of heat leading to moisture content loss, destruction of the natural morphology of hair which may lead to permanent change in structure. Heat damage results from various sources such as heat styling appliances (blow driers, curling irons etc) and ultraviolet radiation.
Can heat damage in 4C hair be reversed? Heat damage can be repaired if it’s not too severe. Some of the curls will be revived if the damage is not severe. Heat damaged hair requires moisture and protein boost to bring it back to health. Some of the steps in repairing heat damaged hair include (i) taking a break from heat (ii) examine your hair care practices (iii) get products that suit heat damaged hair (iv) condition the right way (v) use oils to repair heat damage (vi) trim your ends.
Heat-damaged hair is characterized by dry and rough strands that have lost their natural curl pattern. Too much heat on your hair can damage the keratin proteins, that gives hair its strength, drain the moisture from the inside of the hair strand making it dry and brittle, and crack the cuticle (outside protective layer).
To give you more information on heat damage, in this article, I will be covering the following:
Causes of Heat Damage in 4C hair
- Heat damage on hair can be caused by a number of heat styling instruments such as blow driers, straighteners and curling irons when used at extremely high temperatures or frequently. The heat destroys the keratin protein and strips of moisture making the hair strands look extremely thin and lifeless. Blow drying can destroy your pores making them open up, dirt and other pollutants may enter making your roots weaken.
- Staying long under direct heat from the sun can cause heat damage on your hair likewise when you expose your hair to Ultra violet radiation.
Characteristics of heat damaged hair
1- Excessive hair shedding
An average person loses about 50-100 hairs on a daily basis. Losing more hair that is normal should be the first indication of heat-induced hair problems. You will notice that you have excessive loss of hair during manipulation, washing hair and combing.
2- Porous hair
Hair porosity refers to the ability of hair to retain moisture. It is affected by the cuticle, a hair layer that determines the amount of water and oil that pass into and out of the hair. Over treating your hair with heat destroys the pores on the cuticle making them open up. Once they do they can easily allow pollutants to enter causing damage to the roots. To test if your hair has low or high porosity you have to take a strand of your hair and put it on water. If your hair strands floats, you have low porosity hair. If it sinks, you have highly porous.
This article goes into the details of hair porosity and gives 4 different methods you can use to test your hair porosity.
3- No Curls
Frequent usage of heat on your hair damages its natural curls. This is because the heat forces them straight making natural curls lessen little by little then finally disappear when your hair structure is completely destroyed and loses elasticity.
4- Split Ends
As the hair strands grows longer their ends move further away from the sebum gland hence they do not receive enough nutrients from it this then causes them to split. Heat exposes your hair to hot and dry air condition which makes the ends of your hair split at a faster rate than normal.
To learn more about split ends and how to prevent them, read this article.
5- Dry Hair
The main reason why most people expose their hair to heat is to make it dry. This could be after shampooing or maybe you were caught up in a rainy day unprepared and your hair ended up being rained on or one of the many other reasons of having wet hair. Overusing heat drains all moisture from within and without the hair strand making it extra dry.
6- No Elasticity
Healthy hair is rich in moisture, nutrients and is elastic, when pulled it springs back. Constant exposure of hair to heat damages it thereby making it lose its elasticity. Such hair easily breaks as it detaches from its roots immediately it is pulled. Healthy hair takes slightly bigger effort to break than heat damaged hair.
7- Too Tangled
Having trouble keeping your hair neat even though you are brushing it on a regular basis? It can be a sign of overheating. Healthy hair is elastic and rarely gets tangles up.
8- Wrong Hair Color
Heat damaged hair is broken and porous. Such hair absorbs an excessive amount of color. If you notice that your hair has a different color from what you are normally used to it could mean that your hair is heat damaged.
How to repair heat damaged hair
As mentioned earlier in the post, it is possible to reverse heat damage if the strands are not severely/permanently destroyed. In this section we will explore the keys things you need to do to restore your heat damaged hair.
1- Start by ditching the heat
Now that your hair is already damaged, you want to start by implementing a no-heat policy. Let your hair recover. But what about heat from the environment? Use oils to protect your hair from the sun’s rays. Such oils include Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, Almond Oil and many more.
2- Review your hair regimen
This is a very important step because you are now dealing with hair that needs ‘special care’ and so you will not continue like business as usual. Look at your daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly routine to see what needs to change. Where do need to adjust a process, increase frequency etc. Heat damaged hair lacks moisture and protein, so start by looking at your moisturizing and protein treatment routine and make the necessary adjustments. You will need to pay more attention to moisturizing for example. Here are 10 ways to effectively moisturize your hair.
3- Conditioning the right way and consistently
Conditioning your hair is very important. There are different types of conditioners: regular conditioners that you apply more frequently and deep conditioners that you apply less frequently but leave in longer. When you apply the conditioner, start from the scalp as you gradually move up the hair strands. This way you won’t only focus on the damaged tips. The conditioner you are using should be protein-based to help restore keratin lost from heat damage. It also helps in making the strands more resistant to further damage.
To learn more about conditioners and why you must condition, read this article.
I would recommend you go DIY homemade conditioners if your hair is severely damaged. This way you will use products that are natural and will not expose your hair to chemical damage that will worsen your condition.
Here is a link to one of my favorite DIY deep conditioner using Fenugreek.
4- Get products that suit your hair.
When your hair is getting to a point that it doesn’t cooperate with the regular products you use, it likely means that your hair structure has changed due to heat damage. It’s therefore recommended that you change the products to attain desirable results. For instance, if your hair changes and becomes more porous using less porous products would be what you need.
5- Use oils to repair the damage
For damaged hair it is best to use natural oils to help repair the damage. Some the best oils I would recommend are: Shea Butter, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil and Avocado Oil. Try different oil blend to achieve the best results.
6- Avoid hair dye or any chemical treatments
If your hair is heat-damaged, avoid any kind of chemical treatment as this will make the condition worse. It is important that you give your hair time to regain its health before dying or applying any chemicals.
7- Trim the ends
The Ends are usually most impacted from heat damage, not only are they weak from ‘old age’ they are the most exposed to damaging elements. Assess your ends and if you notice they are terribly damaged and not improving even after the steps above, then it is a good idea to trim them. Trimming regularly is recommended as part of a healthy hair regimen.
8- Big Chop
Going for the big chop should be a last resort. This is when you have tried everything but you are seeing little to no improvement. Chopping off all the damaged hair and starting a fresh maybe a painful process but will be very worthwhile in the long run!
How to prevent heat damage in 4C hair
1. Avoid Heat
This is a rather obvious answer: simply avoid heat. If you must use heat, limit the frequency. Always use low heat setting on the appliance and apply a heat protector before exposing your hair to heat.
3. Try thermo-protective Products.
If you really have to use heating tools on a regular basis it is important to get products that will protect your hair from the heat. You could also use them at moderate temperatures. This way your hair won’t be affected so much by the heat.
I hope you’ve found these tips useful to help you know when your hair is actually heat damaged, how you can treat the damage and avoid further damage. Remember, heat damaged hair symptoms could come all at once or one after the other. As soon as you realize that your locks are getting damaged, avoid using all the heat producing styling tools and follow the remedies I have given to help bring your hair back to radiance.
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