Heat Damaged Hair: The Secrets to Preventing Heat Damage

heat damaged hairThere are 60 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute. There is a car accident every 5 seconds. Every 15 seconds, someone in the natural hair community suffers from heat damaged hair.

Ok, I just totally made up that heat damage statistic. Although, if you had heard the number of heat damage stories that I have, then you would probably agree that my stat sounds about right.

Heat damage is a real problem that is affecting naturals every day.

Some naturals are so afraid of heat damage, even the thought of heat damage causes them to tremble. Other naturals are so carefree that experiencing heat damaged hair is only a matter of time.

Are you concerned about possibly experiencing heat damage?

Here is the part that many people don’t want to hear: The safest way to style your hair is to avoid heat all together.

Since that’s not a reasonable scenario or desirable styling option for many women, let’s dive into the best ways to counter attack the possibility of heat damage.

Before you get started using heat, it would be nice if there was a way to determine your heat tolerance or hairs’ heat capacity. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to determine exactly when you will experience heat damage.

Plus, it’s worth mentioning that heat tolerance can vary from person to person. So it’s critical that you take the proper precautions relative to mitigating the possibility of heat damage.

Even if your hair is in really good condition, it can be absolutely destroyed by heat damage.

The Secrets to Preventing Heat Damaged Hair

Regardless of what you read on natural hair forums or from other bloggers, there is absolutely nothing that you can do to permanently repair heat damaged hair. If you have heat damage, it’s not going to permanently revert back.

Heat Capacity

Wet, green wood burns more slowly than dead, dry wood. That’s because wet, green wood has the higher heat tolerance or capacity relative to dead, dry wood. The dead, dry wood heats rapidly and burns easily. The wet, green wood takes a quite a while to heat up and then burns slowly due to the amount of moisture in the wood. The moisture within the wood serves as a form of protection against the heat damage.

The concept of heat damage is very similar. In order to mitigate the possibility of heat damage, you should increase the heat capacity of your hair prior to applying heat. Make sure that your hair has been conditioned recently with a good moisturizing deep conditioner prior to your heat usage. It’s also important to note that you shouldn’t forgot that it’s not only about moisturizing your hair, maintaining proper moisture and protein balance is critical.

Heat Protection

Now that you have a basic understanding of the heat tolerance principal, let’s talk about the purpose of using a heat protectant. The purpose of using a heat protectant is to use a product with low thermal conductivity. The primary benefit of good heat protectants is to absorb a substantial amount of the heat from your heating appliance, mitigating the possibility of heat damage.

Heat will still pass through to your hair, it will just occur more slowly. You have a much lower chance of damaging your hair if you heat it slowly and keep the heating appliance moving.

Just in case you missed that last tip, I will say it again. Do not allow your heating appliance to remain still for any period of time when straightening your hair. Concentrating the heat in one spot will ultimately increase the probability of experiencing heat damage.

Remove Product Build-up

Ensure that your hair is clean before you utilize heat. The concept of heat capacity and tolerance applies to current products within your hair also. If you fail to clean your hair prior to utilizing heat, you increase the possibly of experiencing heat damage. It’s also important to make sure that your heating appliances are clean.


  • Nice article, but the link doesn’t include natural heat protectants like grapeseed oil, macadamia nut oil, etc. And, if I’m straightening my hair, I always use Fermodyl 619 immediately after washing my hair to correct porosity issues prior to applying heat.

    • Just to be clear – the link takes you to the “most popular” heat protectants sold by Amazon.com based on social proof. However, if you’re interested in using Grapeseed Oil and Macadamia Oil, these are available at the link provided in the article also.


  • Thank you so much for this wonderful information. I’ve only been natural for right at 3 months, and will probably not use any heat for a long time. It took me to long to grow out my natural hair to just damage it with heat. I love my hair just the way it is!! My best friend was really shocked when I told her I would probably never use heat, but I don’t care what others think, I’m so happy with my decision to go and to stay natural.

    • Veronica – Many naturals use heat and if you decide to use it in the future, just be sure to take some precautions before you do. You’re exactly right about it taking a while to grow out natural hair and then end up with heat damage. I hear stories like that all the time and it’s got to be so disappointing.

  • Thank you so much for your tips. Over the weekend I met a young lady that had her hair done, but you could see the heat damage. I told her what you had said about heat on our hair and gave her your website. Now I’m new at this and just by following everything you have said my hair has changed .I have ALWAYS had fine hair, but not now. My 12 year old niece asked how did you do that TT you never had thick hair none of us do. I told her I just did some of the things you said. Thanks once again for all your help,I couldn’t have done it without you

  • I have natural gray hair, while gray hair is difficult to manage in itself w or without heat. I rarely use heat. I used to relax and set my hair because getting under the dryer was better for my hair.
    Now, my mane is just washed and I dry it naturally by either leaving it loose or braid it in two or more braids.
    My ends are dry, but I need products to smoothen ends/edges, stop frizz when I step outdoors, and products to wear natural styles.
    I like to be versitle w my hair. How can I achieve and manage my hair needs?

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