7 Myths About Using Heat on Natural Hair & Heat Damage

7 Myths about Using Heat on Natural HairI recently got a blowout or silk press, whatever you like to call it. I straighten my hair by first, blow drying then flat ironed it. It was gorgeous!!! You can see it here along with Tips to Keep Your Natural Hair Straight Longer.  I enjoy the versatility of natural hair and you should, too.

But I was a little disappointed in the myths and misconception still existing today about heat straightening natural hair.

I wanted to take the time to address 7 Myths About Heat and Heat Damage.  Check them out and below in the comments sections let me; Do you use heat? Why or Why not.

See Also: 5 Tips for Preventing Heat Damage

1. Heat Equals Damage

This can be the case, but usually isn’t the case. Your hair can withstand a temperature of 450F before burning or becoming damaged.  Simply using heat does not automatically mean that your hair is or will become damaged.  In most cases, healthy hair will only experience heat damage with excessive use of heat or using heat appliances at temperatures of 450F or more.

2. Heat Damage Can Be Repaired

When your hair is damaged by heat, it’s permanently damaged. High or excessive heat can permanently break the S-S or disulfide bonds within hair strands that give hair its strength along with protein cross-links. Heat damage can be prevented or treated but not repaired.  If you’ve experienced heat damage, you may want to read this: 3 Tips for Preventing Heat Damage & these tips on 5 Ways To Treat Heat Damage.

Photo Credit: Instagram

Photo Credit: Instagram

3. Heat Straightened Hair is Not Natural

If you use heat, you’re not natural. Have you heard this before? There are some that believe that heat straightened hair is no longer natural hair.  This is untrue.  The fact that your hair is only straight until water hits it, is evidence that it’s still natural.
You can physically change hair without compromising its natural texture and integrity.  Heat straightening results in a physical change that temporarily changes the hair.  Regular combing, shampooing and styling result in very similar temporary changes in hair. This is also why simply shampooing or moisture hitting the hair causes reversion.

4. Once Heat Damaged Always Heat Damaged

Once you’ve experienced heat damage does not mean, you will always experience heat damage every time you use heat.  If you’ve experienced heat damage in your lifetime, you don’t have to avoid all heat to completely prevent it from happening again.  Heat damage like any other type of hair damage is possible but also preventable. (See 5 Ways To Avoid Heat Damage)

Hair that is weak, fine, and porous is more likely to be affected negatively by heat or anything for that matter.  Know your hair and its limitations.  If you’re afraid, start with low temperatures on a high-quality heat appliance made for highly textured hair like the Chi Deep Brilliance Blow Dryer or stay away from using both a blow dryer & flat iron in the same styling session.Chi Deep Brillance Blow Dryer for Natural Hair

5. Only Heat Can Damage Your Natural Hair

Anything in excess can be harmful to your natural hair. Heat is definitely not the exception to the rule. But there are some benefits to occasionally heat straightening your hair.

It can help you prevent single strand knots, decrease breakage during styling, minimize shrinkage and the list goes on.  Here are the top 3 Reasons I Started Blow Drying My Natural Hair, Occasionally

6. All Heat Appliances (Blow Dryers & Flat Irons) Are Created Equally

This is definitely not true. Cheap blow dryers will overheat increasing your chances of heat damage; the same goes for flat irons.  Look for heat appliances that are specially made for textured hair with ion technology that won’t over dry the hair.  “An ionic dryer helps to break down water molecules which allow hair to dry faster, but also allows moisture to penetrate deeper so that you dry your hair but still maintain the moisture on the inside,” says lead stylist Joe Calfee. “Ions also help to neutralize positive charged ions in your hair, therefore restoring shine and helping hair to feel very conditioned.”
Wattage is also important in blow dryers. Your blow dryer should be at least 1800 to dry your hair in the least amount of time, meaning less heat on your hair. This is the best blow dryer for natural hair.

When it comes to flat irons, always look for ceramic or titanium irons (they heat evenly and cool quickly) with heat controls; not just a low or high setting. You need to be able to control the iron’s temperature.  This way you can start at a low setting and increase as needed or decrease the temperature with ease.  The Babyliss Pro Nano Titanium Straightening Iron is highly recommended for these reasons.

7. Your Hair Will Grow Longer & Healthier Without Heat

This is not to say that heat is required to grow healthy hair.  It’s just to say that it’s a myth that its absences will make your hair healthier or its presences will do the opposite. It’s all about moderation.  Minimal heat straightening can be beneficial to your hair as mentioned before.  But if you overdo it, it can lead to devastating effects on your hair.

Even without using heat I didn’t see hair growth. I didn’t use heat for a whole year and didn’t see any hair growth.  I found out later it was because I wasn’t trimming my split ends. (Went a whole year without a trim.) Read more about that and 10 Tips For Growing Longer Hair Within a Year.  It’s not necessarily about using heat or not using heat, it’s how you care for your hair.

Do You Use Heat? Why or Why Not?

Tell me in the comments section below

22 thoughts on “7 Myths About Using Heat on Natural Hair & Heat Damage

  1. CT

    450 is too high!!! When a silk press is done the setting is between 375°and 400°F. Hair can start to burn after that. Know your hair! Don’t let someone else tell you what temperature is good for your hair. We are all different.

    1. kay

      The article is misleading by making such a blanket statement that hair can only be damaged at 450. If you have fine hair you’re better off starting at medium heat at most.

      1. Clo

        There’s actually a link embedded in that paragraph that gives more details about which temperature may be most optimal for different hair types.

  2. Brenda

    I use a regular dryer and rollers when I want to try to straighten my hair. It has been a long time since I have used a blow dryer or flat iron on my hair. I really don’t know how long my hair is right now because like the other comment said I am too lazy to keep it up and right now with all the rain and moisture that is in the air during the fall season I rather just keep it braided or twisted in some kind of style.

  3. SCD Advocator

    I’m battling heat damages after Dominican blowout, I’m at a stand still, my hair is a mess. I may have to cut a 3 years worth of hair, it makes me sad. I stayed away from heat for this long (only once a year blowout) but I’ve vowed to never again. I’ll keep these in mind for the new phase of my journey.

    1. Tamara Post author

      Those Dominican blowout are notorious for damaging hair. I’m sorry that happened to you. If you do decide to use heat periodically, I hope this post will help you.

    2. Genelle

      OMG!! I am sad too!! I agree those Dominican blowouts are known for causing heat damage! Hence my big chop in 2012!! i will never do it again! A tip to remember when blow drying your hair or flat ironing it is use a heat protector while using those heat devices. Like Tamara stated in an earlier post…use heat in moderation……excessive use can be damaging.

  4. Imani

    Heat is not part od my hair regimen especially since my big chop last July. I am concentrating on keeping it healthy through the use of protective styles, braids and twists as well as lots of moisturizing.

  5. LaCharmine L.A. Jefferson

    I haven’t been using any heat on my hair over the past few months, unfortunately, thinking this was best for my hair. I totally understand that “no heat” doesn’t automatically translate into longer hair as hair growth involves a number of factors. I was actually just thinking about blow drying my hair which is how I came across your article. I wanted to research facts about blow drying for a post on my natural hair blog.

      1. Genelle

        thanks Tamara! that is excellent advise…I love your blog….I normally read the tips and read about the products….i don’t usually reply….but I am so excited about this blog and my own natural hair journey that I just wanted to personally thank you for all your advise!

  6. Tamika

    I had a hard time reading this article because of that stupid “We focus on every detailS” (detail, maybe?) ad that kept floating all over the page. Please, get rid of that thing.

  7. Shon

    I’m transitioning to natural, it’s been 13 months so far.I get my hair roller set, sit under the dryer, than flat ironed, every 2 weeks, with no heat in between. And my hair has grown tremendously, and never looked healther. I the goal is to transition 24 months, before cutting off my relaxed ends. So it works for Me!!

  8. Paula Marshall

    I stop putting relaxers in my hair cause it broke off so bad. Now I’m back to my natural hair. But it is so coarse that as soon I step outside it draws up after a press or blow dry. I sweat at night when I sleep so I feel theirs no hope for pressing. I must press it everyday to make it manageable to comb thru. My hair is short no longer than 4 or five inches in some places. The tools like flat irons and blow dryers are not made for short hair. It would be nice if there were some tools for shorter hair.

  9. Sha-Tyra.

    I only like my hair staight it is a little past shoulder length. i wash it every week. I get a perm twice a year. Is it ok to flat iron every week after a wash. I cant afford weaves.

  10. deja

    I have been 3 months natural going on 4. So i was hoping to do during the summertime to dye and fingerwave my hair. But I am not sure if its able to do heatless fingerwaves. Anyway my question is i havent used heat in awhile how do transition if i want fingerwaves? Plus i already experienced using heat when I did my Big Chop and I had to start all over this year.


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