One of the many things there is to love about being a curly girl is the endless hairstyles you can achieve with your curls. Even with day two or day three hair, you can still reactivate your curls to achieve a fab wash-and-go style. That said, I’ve struggled with being stuck in the mindset—mostly through the practices and teachings of the traditional curly girl method—that putting heat on my natural hair can and will lead to an utter disaster and long-term hair damage.
Yes, it’s true constant straightening and heat styling can have damaging and negative effects in the long run. However, there’s no official rule book. It seems as though there’s a common misconception that once you’ve transitioned to natural that you can no longer apply heat from time to time. Though I’ve been natural for three years now, I’ve learned taking styling risks in moderation is fun. I love my natural hair and how far it has come, but I want to wear my hair in whatever state makes me happiest in the moment. So, I recently bought a hair dryer.
Sure, there can be damaging consequences like breakage and dryness. However, with proper maintenance before and after heat styling my hair, I’ve been able to maintain my curls and a proper routine that leaves my hair healthy—even after applying heat. Below, find the protective heat-styling tricks I've learned on my hair journey.
Deep Condition Like Your Hair Depends on It (Because it Does)
Whenever I’m gearing up to change my hairstyle (which turns out to be every other week) I treat my natural hair with some extra TLC and plan a hair maintenance day. Depending on how hydrated or dry my hair is, I use my favorite Aztec Clay or Heaven in Hair Deep Conditioner from DevaCurl to lock moisture and keep my curls intact before styling my hair. This ensures my natural hair is moisturized, healthy, and ready to take on the additional changes.
Detangle, Detangle, Detangle
Before drying or heat styling, I always detangle my hair and part my curls into sections. During washday, try using a detangling cleanser like DevaCurl's Wash Day Wonder, which will help detangle your natural hair in the shower and prepare it for drying and styling. After washing, I like to use a soothing spray detangler like Briogeo's Aloe and Oat Milk Ultra Soothing Detangling Spray. Believe me when I say this detangler feels great on the scalp and helps smooth knots and snags in your hair before styling.
Use a Heat Protectant
This step shall not be skipped. For those with curly or natural hair looking to apply heat in any capacity, prepare your natural hair by using a Heat Protectant first. Most heat protectants will protect your hair with heat up to 450 degrees (but that doesn't mean you need to apply that much heat—more on that later). After detangling, use this step before moving on to styling.
Invest in Professional Heat Stylers
Depending on your budget, investing in a professional heat styler will save you money and enhance the results of your new 'do. I recently picked up Revlon's One-Step Paddle Dryer—it gave me amazing results and truly blew me away (no pun intended).
Choose a Low Heat Setting
The compromise in heat styling my natural hair is having to obtain my desired look with minimal heat. Some areas of my hair require more heat than others, which is fine. Don't raise the temperature above 350 degrees to try to minimize the chances of heat damage.
Wrap Your Hair at Night
Wrapping your hair at night is an essential step in maintaining the health of your hair, whether it is in its natural or heat-styled state. If you’re often forgetful of wrapping your hair at night, try purchasing silk pillow cases.
Routine Salon Visits
The best way to keep track of any lingering hair damage and get proper advice is through a professional stylist. Make sure you’re keeping up with your routine salon visits (or virtual consultations) every three months. I like to visit my stylist often to make sure I’m receiving the proper care and maintenance (cutting and trimming ends) that I need.