My story is quite simple; I am a natural curlista who decided to become a pro licensed stylist as my second chance at a career. I decided to write this post after being asked by several women how I am able to go from straight to curly without experiencing heat damage. I have had heat damage in the past and learned some valuable lessons from that period in my natural journey.
Here is my top 5 aha moments gathered from behind the chair and gained as a DIY curly hair enthusiast:
#1 Proper Preparation
How you start is how you'll finish! Prep your strands by doing a deep cleanse to remove product build up. Heat styling on dirty hair is the ultimate no-no. If your hair smokes during the blow dry or straightening process, there may still be remnants of excess product buildup, sweat, and dirt. Follow up shampooing with a great conditioning treatment by using a product that has a balance of protein and moisture. On blowout days I opt for steam hydration to ensure I get the most out of my conditioner. Finally, liberally apply a heat protection spray prior to the blow dry. When I'm ready to go back curly I follow the same process ending with my preferred leave in conditioner.
Check back for my "wash and go" product favorites!!
#2 Know Your Number
Opt for an ionic blow dryer and ceramic hot tools. All of your flat irons, curling irons, and wands must have a digital or dial heat number setting. Irons that only have an on/off feature or a high, medium, low setting leave a lot of room for error. Ask a reliable salon professional for a recommendation on the proper heat setting for your hair texture and type. As a rule of thumb, hair burns and begins to deteriorate at and above 450 degrees. The keratin bonds that give structure to the hair can begin to melt at 419 degrees. Use hot tools at a setting of 410 degrees or below to reduce the possibility of heat damage. Knowing your heat setting is crucial in avoiding heat damage.
My hot tools list is up next on the blog!!
#3 Limit The Use of Hot Tools
The saying "everything in moderation" still holds true. Limit using direct heat to once per week when opting for a straight look. Utilize maintenance regiments like pin curling, wrapping, and the use of rollers and rods to keep your style throughout the week. Once my hair has been professionally straightened and styled I avoid using hot tools to re-style my hair at all cost. If I must restyle with direct heat I turn my styling tool down to a low or medium heat setting between 375-390 degrees. Ultimately, the health of my hair and the integrity of my curl pattern is more important than the need to achieve a perfectly straight look daily. Plus, there are so many great styles that can be achieved from a slightly reverted straight look; like Bantu knots, a messy bun or a top knot.
#4 Alternate Styling Options
Most heat and mechanical damage occurs when the hair is straightened repeatedly. I reserve straight looks for special occasions, holidays, and events. My hair is left straight for a max of two weeks and then I return to a curly style or my "wash and go". Alternating your styling options between heat and no heat looks will ensure that you are always cognizant of the current state of your curl pattern and any damage that may be occurring. It literally only takes one negative encounter with heat to end up with damaged hair! Taking the time exam your curl pattern every time you shampoo is vital in early detection and prevention of heat damage. Remember: Repetitively wearing your hair straight trains your hair to remain in a relaxed or straightened position. Moderation is key!
#5 Opt for a Salon Pro
If you doubt your ability to follow the steps above and not create heat damage; opt to use a salon professional. Okay, I know from first hand experience that there are licensed stylist creating heat damage behind the chair. My recommendation: ask a naturalista whose hair looks great both curly and straight for a stylist referral. Once you pinpoint a credible stylist ask for a consultation prior to ever booking a service. Show up to the consult with your hair in its natural curly state. Let the stylist know how important the integrity of your hair and curl pattern is to you. Ask open ended questions that reflect the information above. Like, "how would you categorize my hair type and texture?", ''what heat temperature would you use on my hair?", "what heat protection products do you use?", "do you offer no-heat styling options?" etc. If there are red flags that don't reflect your personal knowledge about your hair keep looking for your perfect stylist! BONUS: Ask to stay and silently observe as the stylist is rendering services to other clients. This will give you great insight into their salon process, level of customer service, and you can personally see the hair textures they work with.
Hope this has been helpful! Feel free to comment.
My Curly "Wash and Go"