Heat Training Hair: A Balanced View

Babyliss Pro TT Steam IronThere hasn’t been much research done on the subject but I hypothesise that hydrogen bonds are the likely candidates.

Although hydrogen bonds are usually only temporarily changed by heat, high heat is usually also accompanied with loss of protein from the hair strand and this loss of protein is what changes the shape of the hair permanently.

This may explain why many natural ladies who have experienced heat damage are able to restore their curls to some extent by doing protein treatments. If very high heat is used the loss of protein from the strand is likely to be extensive beyond the capabilities of any protein treatment and with the hair so weak, it will eventually break.

If it’s in fact the hydrogen bond (weakest bond) that is altered during heat training, It may explain why some ladies are having better length retention with heat trained hair over their previously relaxed hair.

There are also some who have better length retention with heat training over their previously virgin natural hair but this can simply be explained by less mechanical damage during combing as well as less knotting.

I can certainly see why heat training is a more attractive prospect than using a chemical which will alter your second strongest bond however there are also disadvantages.

Heat training is a technique that not many stylists offer so it is more than likely something you will have to attempt yourself and unless you are very well versed with your hair and are able to recognize the subtle changes knowing when to pull back etc, you may very well be left with an uneven texture with some pieces of hair that remain straight even after a wash.

It is also possible that you may take it too far causing major damage that leaves you with hair breaking in a similar fashion to damaged relaxed hair.

Ok, science lesson over but I will leave you with this;

If your hair is natural and you straighten your hair on occasion, you are probably ‘heat training’ but to a lesser degree than someone who does it purposely.

Heat styling tools will and do alter the way your hair behaves whether it’s through loss of protein or some other mechanism. Take from that what you will.

Not everybody will be able to grow their hair long with a chemical and as such YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) if you decide to heat train instead.

As always, proceed with caution if at all!

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.


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

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

  • NO Heat plz……

  • Not worth my curl pattern! !!!

  • 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.

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

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

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

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

  • I love the diversity of straight and curly : )

  • Angelique Estella i was just talking bout this!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • That is called heat damage.

  • I use the hot comb on my daughter hair.

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

  • 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.

  • Too humid in Texas

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

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

  • That’s me right there.

  • Hairpolar lol

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

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

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • Why?

  • No…I love my curls!!!

  • Heat train? smh sounds more like heat damage.

  • 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?

  • No

  • 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.

  • 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

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

  • 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

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

  • 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.

  • Hell yea because my natural is kunta keinta

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • No way..

  • 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

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

  • 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?


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

    • 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

  • 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!!!!

  • I have always straightened my hair with straightening comb and ultra sheen creme of satin press. That’s what my mother used when I was a little girl, on my hair and hers. And I still use Ultra sheen and bergamot products,my hair is healthy.

    • That was it yvonne!…Yeeeees,Satin Press!I use something else , but I’m going to find some

  • Heat training???!!! Let’s try heat damage! And I’ll take HELL NO FOR $500 Alex… there’s no such thing as heat training it’s all damage.

  • Also it needs to be able to survive the conditions of use.

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  • Stopped using heat on my hair already to prevent heat damage.

  • Maybe but i don’t straighten my hair as much as i used to but its hard not to when you have long hair

  • I love my curls too much.