For me, versatility is one the main benefits of having natural hair. Going natural doesn’t necessarily mean having to abdicate straightening your hair, the great thing about it is that you don’t have to. Reaching out for the flat iron can break the monotony of twists outs, buns and braids, plus it’s a great way to check up on your hair length, especially when you experience extreme shrinkage. However, our fragile hair is very prone to heat damage and there are a few flat iron mistakes you need to avoid to protect your natural hair.
1# High Temperature
You probably guessed this one, but we don’t even have to think hard to know that this is the main contributor to heat damage. Still many people crank up the heat when using their flat iron, just because it goes all the way up to 450°F/230°C it doesn’t mean you have to go that high. This is possibly more appropriate for professional when performing keratin treatments. Other people just might think that a higher temperature equals a quicker job done when all it does is damage their hair faster.
2# Low Temperature
“I know that high temperatures damage my hair, so let me just go low on my flat iron”. This kind of thinking can also bring bad results for your hair, maybe just as bad as ironing it at a high temperature. When you straighten your hair on low heat you have the need to go over it several times to achieve the results you want. Setting your flat iron on a medium to high temperature is better, remember that thin/fine hair needs a lower set while coarser/thick hair may need a higher set (don’t go overboard here!).
3# Large Sections
If you think your flat iron’s large plates and endless features can do the job quicker and, therefore, you can iron large sections of hair at once and dodge the “heat damage” bullet, think again. Large sections mean the heat can’t get to all your hair strands to give you that soft, silky, straight hair you’re looking for. It also means you have to go over your hair several times to achieve that look. It’s best to use small sections of hair as the heat is better distributed and you’ll only need to over you hair once, maybe twice.
4# Skipping The Heat Protectant
Even if you’re using the right temperature you still need to use a thermal protectant for your hair to avoid heat damage. Apply a heat protectant on your hair before flat ironing and you’ll be doing your curly hair a great favour. If you’re worried that a lot of these products have silicones, know that there are silicone-free formulas available out there.
5# Too Much Product
Prior to flat ironing your hair, don’t apply any oils or butters because with the temperature it can sizzle, release smoke and make your hair heavy and stiff. You can apply a light vegetable oil or non-water based moisturiser on your hair when you finish flat ironing, but first let your hair cool to set your style.
6# Clean Your Tools
I wasn’t aware of this one, but when you straighten your hair the products you use on it also transfer to your tool and it needs to be cleaned or the residue/build up will pile up and will eventually pull and snag your hair. This may not give you heat damage, but it will damage (break) your hair.
7# Old Tools
The problem with an old tool is that with time they can get defective, like being unable to regulate the temperature, uneven heat distribution or it can simply get replaced by new technology that makes it more effective and more hair friendly. If you have an old tool think about replacing it, you can literally be doing your hair a favour and saving it from damage. To find your perfect flat iron read this article.
Are you committing any of these offences? Have you suffered heat damage?
Featured image credit: Glamtwintz334.