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!

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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.



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63 Comments

  1. 1

    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.

  2. 2
    Seafoam5111 says:

    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

  3. 3

    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.

    • 4

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

    • 5

      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…

  4. 6

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

  5. 7

    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? 

  6. 8
    Faye Wallace says:

    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!

  7. 9

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

  8. 10

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

  9. 11

    NO Heat plz……

  10. 12

    Not worth my curl pattern! !!!

  11. 13

    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.

  12. 14

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

    • 15

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

  13. 16

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

  14. 17

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

  15. 18

    I love the diversity of straight and curly : )

  16. 19

    Angelique Estella i was just talking bout this!

  17. 20

    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.

  18. 21

    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.

  19. 22

    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.

  20. 23

    That is called heat damage.

  21. 24

    I use the hot comb on my daughter hair.

  22. 25

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

  23. 26

    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.

  24. 27

    Too humid in Texas

  25. 28

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

  26. 30

    That’s me right there.

  27. 31

    Hairpolar lol

  28. 32

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

  29. 33

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

    • 34

      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.

  30. 35

    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.

  31. 36

    Why?

  32. 37

    No…I love my curls!!!

  33. 38

    Heat train? smh sounds more like heat damage.

  34. 39

    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?

  35. 40

    No

  36. 41

    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.

  37. 42

    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

  38. 43

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

  39. 44

    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

  40. 45

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

  41. 46

    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.

  42. 47

    Hell yea because my natural is kunta keinta

  43. 48

    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

  44. 49

    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

  45. 50

    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

  46. 51

    No way..

  47. 52

    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

  48. 53

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

  49. 54

    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

    • 55

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

    • 56

      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

  50. 57

    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!!!!

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