Heat + Tension = Disaster
A guest blog written by Sydney White
I’m sure we all remember those days when we’d go to school and wonder why we were one of the only people with curly hair. Back then, we just wanted to fit in. I remember straightening my hair all the time. It was very damaging but I didn’t care because it was the 'look'. I went as far as trying to straighten my hair with a brush and a fan. You can only imagine how that came out.
One of the struggles of natural hair is wanting to switch up your look when you get tired of your go-to style. But, how? We sometimes lean towards styles that require heat and/or traction or tension to pull the hair back into a sleek, tight style. These styles may give us a different look, but they can also be very damaging for our hair!
Why are Heat and Tension damaging?
What is heat or tension damage? Heat and tension damage occur when your curls have been manipulated so much by heat (think flat irons, hot combs, etc.) or by styles that pull your hair (think top knots, tight ponytails, etc). The heat and/or tension can cause breakage, loss of curl definition and in some cases balding around the hairline. I've often seen this happen with my clients. They go into phases where they like to wear their hair straight for the winter time, thinking “straightening my hair once won't cause damage!” However, putting extra amounts of heat on your hair over time breaks down the hydrogen bonds, which your hair needs to stay healthy! When these bonds are broken, that is where the damage comes into play. If your hair is pulled up in a tight style, it can weaken the hair around your hairline. The technical term for this is called traction alopecia; caused primarily by pulling and tension around the hairline.
How to switch up your look - without damage!
If you make the decision to occasionally use heat on your hair, make sure that you go to a stylist that's familiar with natural hair. I recommend a protein treatment before and after your heat style to ensure that your curls 'bounce back' as much as possible.
Naturlista's have plenty of fun, diverse styles to choose from WITHOUT having to resort to using heat or cause tension.
Check out some of my favorites below:
These styles are perfect because using a moisturizer is recommended to achieve the style, and anything that provides your hair more moisture = less breakage! These styles can last weeks, and you can wear them just as they are for a week, then the next week take them out for a whole different style.
2. Loose Buns and Pineapples
Loose buns and pineapples are my go-to! I always make sure if I’m doing a bun I put oil on my scalp and ends to prevent breakage. Satin scrunchies are necessary when pulling your hair back. A pineapple is a loose high ponytail. When I do this style, I get compliments all the time & it’s one of the easiest styles! I always sleep with my hair in a pineapple to help with volume and to preserve my curls while I sleep. I use a satin scrunchy and satin pillowcase to ensure my texture isn't disturbed by the cotton on a regular pillowcase. Cotton causes frizz and breakage!
Wigs are one of the simplest yet, creative ways to change your style. Make sure your hair is braided up with a leave-in conditioner to keep in the moisture. Wigs are very 'low risk' when it comes to potential damage because your hair isn't exposed when wearing them. Just be sure to take down your natural hair and keep a consistent wash day routine!
4. Wash and Go
I personally have a love/hate relationship with wash and go’s. A lot of times I have to pay attention to the weather in order for my hair to come out right. But when it does, it is beautiful. It’s a blessing only having to wash your hair once a week, if not longer than that depending on your texture. I always get good results using a leave-in conditioner, moisturizer, and of course, flaxseed gel!
5. Rod sets
Rod sets are another popular style. The drying time is longer than some other styles, but the outcome is a hairstyle that can last 3-5 days and give you a look that's different from your normal wash & go. A great styling tip for a rod set is to incorporate a leave-in conditioner and foaming wrap lotion. I've found that this can help retain moisture and prevent flaking!
The most important thing you can do to prevent damage to your hair is to give it your love! You need to embrace what YOU Have. Don’t change it for anyone else. I tell my clients not to compare their hair to anyone else’s because you won’t be happy. If you have yet to start your transition what are you waiting for? Your hair will be so beautiful and healthy!
Most of my clients are natural, and I love watching them love what they have. I hope to see you in my chair one day!
-Written by guest blogger Sydney White, Cosmetologist