Heat Training Hair: A Balanced View

Hot comb and straightenerSince featuring Brittany, an avid heat training enthusiast, on the website a few weeks ago, I have had few emails and comments suggesting that I give a more balanced view on the subject so here it is!

So what is heat training? From my research online, I have found two definitions for it.

► Using heat often to straighten natural hair so that it does not revert easily in response to atmospheric humidity. Pretty self explanatory and this is probably the more common understanding of heat training.

Virgin black natural hair is notoriously difficult to keep dead straight and will normally start poofing up within hours of being straightened. People however have found that the more they straighten, the longer they can wear it straight without it reverting.

Using high heat to straighten natural hair with multiple passes to both assist with preventing easy reversion but more importantly to change the texture of the natural hair. Essentially texturizing the hair with heat, also known as Thermal Texturizing. This is heat training as I have come to understand it recently and probably the source of all the controversy.

Ok, right off the bat let’s address the fact that heat training is not a new technique. We are all familiar with the hot combs and Marcels used by our mums and aunties back in the day to straighten their hair, they obviously noticed that their hair did not look quite the same when they next washed it, results that were only more pronounced the more they visited the stylist for yet another press and curl.

I have written before about a friend who would brag about her leave out hair that she used to blend with her straight weave. ‘It doesn’t kink up any more’ she would say happy as Larry! I might add that her hair never grew past shoulder length.

Looking at heat training by the second definition I will use Brittany as an example as many of you have probably watched her videos on the subject but just in case, here she is in her own words on what heat training is and what it is not. My take on it is after the videos.

 

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Alma

About Alma


Hi! I'm Alma Ruddock, a full time blogger. I stumbled on a hair care forum in 2008 frustrated with my breaking relaxed hair and the information that I found there changed the fate of my hair forever!. I started BlackHairInformation.com as a way to help both myself and other women of color achieve their dreams of long healthy hair. I have now achieved my goal length and I continue to bring new information about hair on both this website and my personal blog.


  • Lyra777

    Thanks for the more balanced view, but in the light of the fact that your hair can be permanently changed using this process, it is unlikely the hydrogen bond. Also gradually loosening or burnt straight are both forms of damage, one more extreme than the other, but at the very least at least you seem to be calling a spade a spade. You did admit it is a form of damage, which other sites seem unable to do.

  • Seafoam5111

    i have always had “good hair” and coincidingly has been way past my shoulders for as long as i can remember but when i was 10, i blew it out and flat ironed it for the first time. it didn’t stay straight for very long but i was only my first experience. for the next few years, i alternated pressing it and twists and during then, i have had regular deep conditions. my hair has been growing thicker when straight, longer, and my kinks have been loosening as well. so, as long as you do it right, heat training is fine :) i hope this helps

  • Melina

    Thank you for this article. One thing I find is that a lot of people don’t see that no matter what you do you will damage your hair if you manipulate it in ANY WAY. This is not the end of the world. It is just a matter of choosing your preferred poison. Yes of course we all know that relaxing and heat styling damage hair in varying degrees depending on the application, method used and the temperament of the hair.

    Why is it that no one is willing to admit that simply combing your hair is a way to damage it? Washing your hair to often or to little can also have damaging effects. It is like anything else in life to much of anything is not usually good. It is up to the individual to find the correct balance to achieved the desired results

    This is about personal choice if you find that manual damage is more acceptable to you then chemical or thermal then that is fine but lets not pretend that anyone’s way is better as a rule. What ever your choice just be sure that they type of manipulation you choose allows you to enjoy your hair in the way you want desire.

    • http://www.lessfoodmorelife.com/ BHI

      Absolutely. I agree ANY manipulation will damage your hair, but not everything is breakage causing damage!

    • Guest

      I agree. It is up to the individual and their personal preferences and it’s about discovering what works best for you and your hair…

  • Darlicia

    exactly…if  hv natural hair and u tear and rip through it…its breaking

  • Ggnet

    I have started to texturize my hair for a few months and I have not done any hair styles that add heat to my hair, recently I just pressed my hair for my graduation. When I washed my hair out it took a little while for the hair to revert back, but the front is still straight. The roots are curley but it seems to not curl when it becomes wet. Will my hair revert back since its the first time I pressed it out, and I dont have any heat damage? Or will the front just stay straight? What can I do to help revert the hair back? 

  • Faye Wallace

    I concur with your take on it. When I was growing up, my hair was heat trained. It didn’t revert in the rain but if I got my hair washed it would curl right back up! It didn’t damage my hair or make my hair break off at all. Relaxing it did however, and that is why I am going back natural again. I love the versatility of natural hair and am not a natural nazi so I will be straightening and coloring my hair as much as like and as much as my hair can stand and still be healthy! Thank you for this post!

  • https://www.facebook.com/nikita.amey Nikita Amey

    Nooooooooo. NEVER!!! I have it pressed out right now, been a week, and I miss my curls!

  • https://www.facebook.com/tiama.johnson Tiama Candyraindownonu Johnson

    No…I came too far trying to NATURAL TRAIN my damn hair…count me out!

  • https://www.facebook.com/kenndakjustice Kennda Justice

    NO Heat plz……

  • https://www.facebook.com/shameria Shameria Effinger Biera

    Not worth my curl pattern! !!!

  • https://www.facebook.com/rhonda.billings.79 Rhonda Billings

    Yes. I am transitioning right now and have been flat ironing my hair. I haven’t decided how I’m going to wear it once all the relaxing has been cut out but haven’t rules out wearing it straight.

  • https://www.facebook.com/leisa.johnson.9 Leisa Johnson

    Once you straighten your hair by any means…..it’s no longer in it’s natural state…. is it???

    • https://www.facebook.com/yvette.martin.3975 Yvette Martin

      It’s no longer natural IF you use a CHEMICAL (i.e. relaxer, texturizer). Applying heat is not a chemical.

  • https://www.facebook.com/lu.salmon Lu Salmon

    Why use them? You are beautiful just the way you are! <3

  • https://www.facebook.com/robin.pitts.142 Robin Pitts

    I’m trying to untrain the top of my hair now

  • https://www.facebook.com/benita.a.green Benita Ann Green

    I love the diversity of straight and curly : )

  • https://www.facebook.com/samira.perry.9 Samira Perry

    Angelique Estella i was just talking bout this!

  • https://www.facebook.com/ltennyson Loren Tennyson

    NEVER!!!! I had straight hair long enough and don’t miss it! My natural hair is luxurious :) If I need to see my length, I will do a wet set. No direct heat.

  • https://www.facebook.com/weslyn.milton Weslyn Milton

    There’s nothing wrong with straightening your hair every now and then. Sometimes we need a new look and as long as you take care of it your curl pattern will always come back.

  • https://www.facebook.com/tiny.pierrelouis Lorraine Tiny Robinson Pierre-Louis

    I had my straighten. I loved it but it became a hassle having to straighten it everyday. I go to the gym 4 to 5 times a week and I was having to straighten it every morning.

  • https://www.facebook.com/dedriadeekay.gray Dedria DeeKay Gray

    That is called heat damage.

  • https://www.facebook.com/fefekey Felecia Key

    I use the hot comb on my daughter hair.

  • https://www.facebook.com/wandretta.lynum Wandretta Lynum

    yes I am this is alot of work an not enough time.

  • https://www.facebook.com/akua.bandoh.1 Akua Bandoh

    I heat trained my hair for years and lost ALL of the curl pattern. My hair was straight even when it was wet. I now know that it was also severely damaged. I had to basically start all over again. I press my hair out every now and then but I DO NOT use the hot comb. NO WAY!!! That thing will fry your hair. I use ceramic irons and ALWAYS deep condition with a steamer to lock in moisture before the straightening process.

  • https://www.facebook.com/sheli.hordge.7 Sheli Hordge

    Too humid in Texas

  • https://www.facebook.com/charlotteTheQueenjackson Charlotte Lovingme Jackson

    I simply wish a lot of you ladies would make up your mind about what you consider natural hair. Stop being hair bipolar!

    • https://www.facebook.com/Adrz81 Adrienne Jones

      lol…i agree but still it their choice. Everyone will always change mind.

  • https://www.facebook.com/claudeena Claudeena Watt

    That’s me right there.

  • https://www.facebook.com/alyssa.philiprose Alyssa Ali Philip-Rose

    Hairpolar lol

  • https://www.facebook.com/beautifulwoman Chardon Thomas

    Leisa Johnson natural just means no chemical to make it straight. It will still be natural. It’s about the process. Not the style

  • https://www.facebook.com/shanta.jordan Shanta Jordan

    I do straighten my hair my hair stays straight fir at least 2 weeks and when I wash it my curls comes right back

    • http://blackhairinformation.com Tracie

      I have been natural for six years. I wear my hair straight the majority of the time and never did a big chop. When I wash my hair the curls come right back. In fact, my curls have always returned the second water touched my hair, even when I had a relaxer. By the way, my hair is well below my shoulders.

  • https://www.facebook.com/mercedes.obey Mercedes Obey

    I have before but I was never taught how to use the straightening tools the right way,. I would add so much hair grease that it would drip out when I applied heat, so I was basically just frying my hair off.

  • https://www.facebook.com/sharron.clear1 Sharron Clear

    Why?

  • https://www.facebook.com/ivy.hawkins.16 Ivy Hawkins

    No…I love my curls!!!

  • https://www.facebook.com/tiffany.williams33 Tiffany Coffey

    Heat train? smh sounds more like heat damage.

  • https://www.facebook.com/eleanor.humphrey.925 Eleanor Humphrey

    You know I’ve trained my natural hair to the point that it looks like I’ve blow dried it, but I haven’t put any heat in it in over 8 or 9 mos, and I’m really shocked that my hair is so soft and manageable now. I’m ready to take the wing off and show it off and I can see that it has a nice length without being straighten and I am so tempted to put the hot comb in it too see how long it really is, but the question is” will it take a long time to get naturally soft again?

  • https://www.facebook.com/Merdynes Lisa Merdynes

    No

  • https://www.facebook.com/janaia.rhea Janaia Rhea-Pratt

    I have been “natural” all of my life and began getting my hair pressed @ age 11. It has NEVER been as much work as most new naturals profess it to be. My hair is “heat trained” by the pressing comb and reverts back to it’s natural curl when I shampoo it. I occasionally use the flat iron but prefer the heat of the hot comb because of the spaces which allows heat to escape and not be held between two plates. There is nothing wrong with your hair being trained, it’s not a chemical just part of a regimen. The problem comes in when you don’t know how to properly straighten your hair without burning it which causes it to remain straight after washing. That is heat damage! Products matter, condtioning is a must… don’t try it yourself if you don’t know the different types of heat.

  • https://www.facebook.com/alexa.campbell.92 Alexa Campbell

    I did that and to get it back to it’s natural pattern I just wore it in buns,a weave,and twist outs for one summer and it came back

  • https://www.facebook.com/naturallysweet Stacey Fletcher

    No, I would never permanently straighten my hair via heat damage on purpose.

  • https://www.facebook.com/ashley.kelly.946 Ashley Kelly

    Well my hair doesn’t even hold any type of heat unless your burning it with a stove flat iron and oil. Not that serious,havnt straightened my hair in years

  • https://www.facebook.com/IAMSavvyV Valerie Cooper

    I say to each his own…I would never lock my hair.

  • https://www.facebook.com/angela.tisdale1 Angela Seven Tisdale

    I have been natural for 10years. But have ALWAYS wore my hair straight. Just in the last two months i have been wearing it curly and it looks great. Very pretty curls. And I used to use A lot of heat on my hair.

  • https://www.facebook.com/mamimoye Mami Moye

    Hell yea because my natural is kunta keinta

  • https://www.facebook.com/tori.flake Tori Tiny T Flake

    I straighten my hair with heat once a month but I always deep condition it and use a heat protection leave In and wrap.it at night..I’ve been chemical free for 4yrs when my hair is wet it curls right back up no damage….having my hair straight is just easier seem like for me just get up unwrap and go

  • https://www.facebook.com/misha.henderson.180 Misha Henderson

    I reaaaaally wish some people would learn that heat trained hair does not equal heat damaged hair. You can damage you hair no matter what state it is in if you dont properly care for it, smh #SillyHumans

  • https://www.facebook.com/rina.booker Rina Booker

    Years ago that’s what I did press and curl and as soon as you washed it it reverted back. Why does it seem like people are afraid to do what they always have done. Its not perm

  • https://www.facebook.com/mieshel.osgood Mieshel Jett

    No way..

  • https://www.facebook.com/lori.creatingdestiny.smith.12 Lori L’Naturals Smith

    This is not rocket science..when my mom use to press my hair I NEVER had heat damage and playtime at the pool still drew my hair back to its original coily/curly state…is this a new school dilemma?I’m confused on this whole heat damage frenzy…The principles of straightening non relaxed curly or wavy hair are still the same..keep the heat tool temp at the correct temp for YOUR hair(just because its coily doesn’t mean u crank it up to 500degrees)and be careful of the straightening products of today that you use to straighten the hair because a combination of those elements are what may be causing the heat damage

  • https://www.facebook.com/khalilah.walton Khalilah Walton

    That hot comb has traumatized me.. I LLLOATH that contraption. …. feel like a WW2 vet with PTSD LOL

  • https://www.facebook.com/caramelbetty Florencia Marie

    Blah Blah to any Natural Hair Nazi who wants to read someone for using heat. I am an avid user of heat and my hair looks just as good kinky or better than some who chooses not to use heat at all.

    My preference is to wear my hair straightened in the Fall/Winter months and Kinky/Curly/Poofy during the Spring/Summer months… Folks need to stop coming down on ppl for what they choose to do with their hair. As long as it’s relaxer free and being treated with care, why the hell does one feel the right to judge others for their hair care regimen?

    #ByeAshy

    • https://www.facebook.com/Ladybugcdl Twa Rivers

      Florencia Marie I have actually consider doing that same method. Straight in the winter and curly in the summer.

    • https://www.facebook.com/caramelbetty Florencia Marie

      Works for me. The Winter is just too rough on my hair. Plus it’s not good to do a wash n go because the winters here in the Midwest are notoriously cold. And in the summer, it’s impossible to keep my hair straight because it will poof up due to the humidity lol

  • https://www.facebook.com/letisha.jonesking Letisha Jones- King

    I press n flat iron in the winter which includes me only co-washing my hair once a month…. n I do kinky/curly in the summer. I have 3a/3b type hair n flat ironing is very easy n my hair reverts back to its curly state just fine. I feel it’s to each its own, it’s ur hair do what u want to. I love my kinky/curly n my straight hair….natural hair is ALOT OF WORK regardless!!!!