How and Why I Stopped Applying Heat to My Hair for a Year

Confession time!! I posted the picture below on Instagram several months ago (March) to advertise SheaMoisture’s newest products. I received many compliments on my hair. But in reality, I experienced heat damage. A month prior to this shoot, I had a silk press. It usually lasts a couple of weeks, but I tried to maintain it for a month. EPIC FAIL!! I attempted to preserve it by continuously applying heat to my hair. Not a good idea!! I applied a flat iron after vigorous workouts and experiencing Georgia humidity. After 3 weeks, I was over it and finally washed my hair back to my coils…or so I thought. I noticed changes to my hair and was disappointed to have heat damage AGAIN. I stopped applying heat to my hair for a year to restore the health of my hair. The no heat for a year challenge began after watching a YouTuber do the challenge for a few months. Before I stopped applying heat to my hair for a year, here are several signs of heat damage that I noticed.

March 2020

How and Why I Stopped Applying Heat to My Hair for a Year

Signs of Heat Damage

Lack of Elasticity

When applying deep conditioner to my hair, I normally use the praying hands method. While adding deep conditioner, my hair did not have that normal elasticity. Meaning, my hair did not bounce back when gently pulled. Even when my hair was dry, I pulled my hair back to see if it would bounce back; it didn’t. Instead, my hair would stay in place.

Looser Curl Pattern

I normally have type 4B and 4C hair. However, my curl pattern appeared looser. Instead of having tight coils, I had a loose curl pattern that resembled type 3 hair. The ends of my hair were also straight and would not revert to its coily state.

The Appearance of Limp Hair

My hair literally looked like it had no life. My once very thick hair that was full and had so much volume looked thin and limp. When trying to style my signature afro, it didn’t appear big and fluffy. I would do twist outs and braid outs, but my hair would not look curly. So, I decided to wear head wraps on a regular basis to hide my limp hair or try to jazz it up. This was very helpful while in the middle of the pandemic.

More Breakage

When I combed my hair, it broke easily. Breakage then led to excessive shedding. I noticed my strands were getting shorter in different areas, especially my stress spot (top of my head) and the back of my hair. With breakage, my hair was not growing at its normal pace. It was stagnant, which is rare, because my hair grows pretty fast.

Dry Hair

I have high porosity hair. So, it is normally dry, even though it can initially retain moisture. However, my coils became increasingly drier. It was difficult to retain moisture, and it began to look brittle. My drier hair became easily tangled, which led to longer detangling times. Do not get me started on detangling my hair!! It began to be unbearable, as it was tougher to comb through, even after applying leave-in conditioner that has plenty of slip.

With these signs appearing, I had to make some changes and add more steps during my hair regimen to bring my coils back to life.

What I did during no heat for a year challenge?

Slowly Trim My Ends

I previously suffered heat damage and had most of my hair cut into a tapered haircut. NEVER AGAIN!! I was not prepared for the drastic cut and immediately freaked out. In this case, my heat damage was not as severe as the first time around. THANK GOD! Instead, I slowly trimmed my straight ends, as my hair was growing again. If there were strands that I could not save, I would cut it off; leaving a little piece of the strand. I would not recommend this if you do not have thick hair. Because my hair is thick, the much shorter strands were unnoticeable.

Finger Detangle

This is always fun for me!! (insert sarcasm lol) As much as I don’t care to finger detangle, I’ve seen a huge difference in the shedding that I get. Finger detangling is when you use your fingers to detangle your hair in place of a wide tooth comb or detangling brush. (Duh! Lol) During the 7 years of being natural, I never gave finger detangling a chance, because I instantly knew it would be time consuming. Now, that it is in my regimen, and I’ve grown to appreciate it. Do I like it? Heck no!! If it will help my hair for the long haul, then I’m all for it. Here is how I learned to finger detangle my hair.

Utilized a Protein Treatment

Heat damage is largely caused by lack of protein in your hair. I’ve tried different products that contain protein like deep conditioners and at home remedies, but the best option for my hair was the Aphogee 2 Step Protein Treatment. It usually comes in 2 bottles that contain the protein treatment and moisturizer. You can purchase the packets if you want to test it before committing to the bottles. Once I initially used it, my hair began to gain more elasticity. As a heads up, it can get pretty messy and sticky so be careful when applying it. Plastic gloves should be worn to make the process easier. For the protein treatment to take more effect, I recommend sitting under a dryer. Your hair will feel hard but that’s totally normal. Just make sure you do not touch your hair until you begin rinsing. This only needs to be applied to your hair every 4-6 weeks to avoid further drying out.

Applied a Hot Oil Treatment

A lack of moisture was one of the effects from heat damage. One of the best ways to add moisture to your hair is through a hot oil treatment. I used to apply a hot oil treatment regularly during the beginning stages of my natural hair journey. Then, I got lazy and completely cut it off in my wash day regimen. The hot oil treatment allowed my hair to gain moisture and elasticity. I usually apply the hot oil treatment on freshly washed hair before or after deep conditioning. If this is too much work, then you could always try the hot oil treatment every other wash day (like me). Now that it’s cooler, I use a hot oil treatment regularly since my hair gets dry in Fall and Winter. Click here and here for my personal favorite options. You can also use the oils at home like olive oil, coconut oil, etc. Here’s a great recipe that I found on Pinterest.

Use Alternatives

Normally, I use heat in my hair to stretch it for elongated hairstyles or to prepare my hair for protective styles like braids, buns, and crochet styles. Since I was no longer using heat, I had to find alternatives. Instead of using heat to stretch my hair, I resorted to the banding method, plaiting my hair, or wearing my hair in buns. For those who are unfamiliar with the banding method, it is when you wrap hair ties in sections of your hair. Here is an example. I was also very fortunate to find a hair braider who does not require my hair to be stretched by using heat. That was the first time this has ever happened during the seven years of me being natural. It was refreshing to find a hair stylist who truly promotes healthy hair. I recommend that you find the same. It’s very rare to find one, but they do exist.

How is the progress so far?

October 2020
December 2020

I started the no heat challenge in March and I’ve seen a HUGE difference!! My hair is almost back to its thick, coily state. I’m not experiencing excessive shedding as previously mentioned, and my elasticity is back!!! I’ve never been so excited to pull my hair and see it bounce back. Lol!! Is my hair 100% back on track? No. But I’m hopeful that by the time the challenge is over, my hair will have returned back to normal. Who knows! I may go another year without using heat in my hair to see how much my hair will progress. Until then, I will record a video on YouTube to show my progress by the end of the challenge. I may even record tutorials on the protein treatment and hot oil treatments that work for my coils. Let me know in the comments if you’re interested.

After reading this post, do you think you may need a no heat challenge? What do you think you could do to make sure you do not experience heat damage? If you experienced heat damage, please share how you were able to overcome this issue.


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