As soon as I got out of the hair salon today I was determined to write a new blog post on my misconception of direct heat on natural hair. To preface, I have 4a/4b, dry, fine hair. During my initial dive into the world of natural hair and organic products almost two years ago I had read various literature and blog posts about the benefits and disadvantages of heat use on natural hair. It is kinda of a double edged sword in that I found getting my hair trimmed every 6-8 weeks greatly reduced split ends damage but at the same time, the pressing of my hair to get this trim was straightening my curl pattern too much - to where my wash n' gos looked stringy!
So what to do? Taking inspiration from another blogger who presses her hair once a year, I thought I should give my hair a break from pressing it 6 times a year and do it at the end of the year (during the holidays and when I am too busy stuffing my face and going to holiday parties to worry about going to the gym). I was thinking this break in direct heat use with a press and curl would make my hair healthier and longer. I still went to the salon every two to three months to get it blow dried out on a low heat setting and get it trimmed. I was looking forward to going to the salon today because I thought "omg my hair is going to be so long and healthy since I haven't used heat for about one and half years!". This was not the case.
My usual stylist said it was healthy and soft but when she tried to press it out, it was a struggle for her and for me. It took almost 4 hours when usually it used to take 2 - 2.5 hours when I was pressing regularly. My stylist stated the obvious saying that it is more difficult to press when you don't press it as often. I understood that, but I was more surprised about the amount of split ends I had where she ended cutting about 2 inches off. I felt like I was not back to square one, but maybe square two. At least the majority of my hair was healthy but my ends were frayed and "dead."
It then occurred to me that when I was pressing my hair regularly (6 times a year regular) it was so easy to comb and manage after I went back to natural because it slightly loosened up my curl pattern! As a result, I was not struggling to comb aka rip through the ends of my hair - especially because I am an impatient person when it comes to combing and detangling my hair. Avoiding direct heat use for a year and half was actually counter-intuitive and more time consuming for my hair care regimen in the long run.
I had an epiphany that direct heat to my hair actually helped keep it hair healthy
I have now decided to press out my hair 4 times a year, making sure to do a protein treatment before hand to protect and strengthen the hair. I am hoping this will not only give me better trims but an easier time managing/combing my hair once it is natural again. We shall see how the new year goes.