Preventing Hair Damage From Direct Heat

So it hit me recently that I went about 12 weeks without using heat on my relaxed hair from a flat iron or blow dryer. This is a big deal for me because I used to be a blow dry and flat iron my hair every single week kinda gal. In fact, I would sometimes flat iron my hair every day. As a result, I started noticing my hair didn't look and feel as full as it used to. And I wasn't retaining length.

Now I didn't realize that my constant use of heat on my hair was causing the issue. It was after I turned to the Internet to find information, tips, and advice on relaxed hair care. Among the multitudes of tips and advice, several of them talked about heat damage from direct.

Now I had never heard this phrase before - direct heat. But some of the signs of the hair damage it caused were similar to what I was experiencing. So I knew I had to do something.

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What heat damage really is

Despite what we may think, our hair is fragile and the constant heat from curling irons, blow dryers, and flat irons can damage it. Sometimes beyond repair. In a nutshell, heat damage is caused when constant high heat is used on the directly on the hair. Hence the term direct heat.

Direct heat is when heat is applied directly to the hair by using styling tools such as a curling iron, flat iron, or blow dryer. This is considered to be the harshest method of using heat as it pulls moisture and hydration from the hair strands quickly causing hair damage.

The crazy thing is heat damage can be spotty. So while you may use high heat all over your head sometimes some spots may be more damaged than others. 

You can tell hair is heat damaged when you're seeing excessive breakage, your hair looks and feels dry and dull. You may also see lots of frizzing and possibly even split ends.

What to do about heat damage

While major heat damage isn't reversible, there are some things you can do to help your heat damaged hair.

Stop using heat

Yes, you heard me. If hair is heat damaged the worse thing would be to use more heat on it. Go on a no heat challenge where you use no heat of any kind on your hair. This means you air dry your hair and find ways to style your hair without heat. I once did a 30 day no heat challenge. You can see the results of my challenge here.

Use protein

If the heat damage isn't that bad using protein-based deep conditioners and even a mild protein treatment could help add some strength back to the hair.

Cut/trim off the damaged hair

Sometimes there's no way to around it. The damage may be so severe or so noticeable that it's better to have a fresh start by cutting or trimming away the damaged pieces of hair.

Baby the hair

To get the damaged hair back on track may take some gentle love and care. Reduce the number of chemicals by no longer coloring your hair, stop relaxing your hair or stretch your relaxers for longer than six weeks.

Other ways to baby your hair are

  • Keep your hands out of it
  • Style it less often and start wearing protective styles like wigs
  • Using sulfate-free shampoos or a co-wash when you wash your hair
  • Deep condition every time you wash your hair

How to avoid heat damage in the future

Here are ways to avoid future damage from direct heat

Use less heat

Overall try to lessen the amount of direct heat used on your hair. This is probably one of the best ways to avoid heat damage. You can do this by not using curling irons, blow dryers, and flat irons.

When you do use heat to dry your hair try a hooded dryer like the Gold 'N Hot hooded dryer I use. Hooded dryer indirect heat which is heat not applied directly to your hair and is less damaging. Or use the cool setting when using a blow dryer.

And if a curling iron or flat iron is used try to do fewer passes and a lower heat setting so you're less heat.


Use a good heat protectant before applying any heat to your hair whether it's direct or indirect heat.

Keep your hair clean

Only use direct heat on freshly washed hair. Prior to flat ironing consider using a clarifying shampoo to rid the hair of any residue.

Use protein

Do a protein treatment to strengthen the hair. You can use hair products like conditioners that have ingredients like hydrolyzed protein. Or even do a hard protein treatment like the Aphogee Two-step Protein Treatment.


Regularly moisturize the hair with a good leave-in conditioner. If you're using heat tools moisturize before and after using them. Also, seal in the moisture with a hair oil or serum. If you use a natural oil be careful that it won't fry or cook your hair if you use a heat styling tool after applying it. 

Have you ever experienced heat damage? What did you do about it?


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