Curl Talk Q & A: Heat Damage

by Ebony Clark-Bomani

Q: I decided to go to the Dominicans three weeks ago to get my hair straightened and trimmed for a length check. All went well until I washed my hair today. My curl pattern has changed and some pieces are straight! What can I do? Is that normal?

A: It's very unfortunate that you had to experience that. I've seen this happen numerous times in the natural hair community, and it is very common. When excessive heat is applied to your hair, over time---or just once, it can create a relaxer-like effect. The bonds that hold your curl/coil pattern in place are severely damaged; sometimes they are broken. Therefore, it results in loss of your curl pattern/natural texture. As with mostly everything, this is subjective. It may not be this way for everyone. Just know that the more fragile your hair, the more likely you are to experience heat damage. Some people choose to refer to it as your hair being "trained."

Keep in mind that hair does not have living cells, so once there is damage the hair cannot repair itself. Heat damage is irreversible. What you can do to get your hair on it's way back to normal is take a break from the use of heat for a very long time (or permanently), gradually trim ends that might've become straight as a result of the damage (if you can't stomach cutting all of the damage at once), and find a high quality conditioner and protein treatment to strengthen your hair. One of MY personal favorite protein products is Giovanni Smooth As Silk Xtreme Protein Hair Infusion. It's the best protein treatment I've ever used, and I was about to give up on protein treatments. Hydration is also EXTREMELY important. If you haven't already, invest in a hair steamer and incorporate it into your hair care routine at least every two weeks. It's easier to fry hair that's insufficiently hydrated. Be patient, persistent and deliberate when it comes to your hair care. Over time, you'll see great results.

Ebony Clark-Bomani