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FEATURES Aug 20 2013 8:41PM

How to Manage Heat Damage While Transitioning

by Chime Edwards

"My hair is too nappy for a flat iron to permanently straighten it". I've heard that line many times.  They are usually amazed to see that their self proclaimed "slave hair" has been permanently altered by heat. Many women flat iron or press their hair as they transition without realizing how this will actually effect their natural hair. So, what does one do with a head mostly full of gorgeous natural hair with heat damage sprinkled in the mix? Get into repair mode! 

Now, there is no product that can revert chemically altered or heat damaged hair back to its original texture. In spite of what your granny may have told you about rinsing your hair with beer it will not magically transform your hair to its natural state.  The only way and I repeat ONLY way to get rid of heat damage is to cut it. Of course, you can grow it out and gradually cut it each month. 

How do most people end up in this position of having head damage? Well, my baby sissy Chanda is a good example. She had a tough time during her transition. She didn't know how she should wear her hair so that it looked presentable. She received tons of negative comments from guys he dated as well as friends who told her she would be prettier if she relaxed her hair. She didn't give in and return to the white stuff but she get a sew-in that left some of her real hair exposed. This piece of hair had to be flat ironed to blend in with the Peruvian weave from the sew-in. So, for months she straightened her afro-textured hair to match the love ladies' tresses of Peru. Needless to say, that section of hair became very dry and brittle and began to break off. She believed she had "tough" hair and later told me she really didn't think her unrelaxed hair could be permanently straightened somewhat from the heat. Once she big chopped, the front of her hair was a completely different texture from the rest of her hair. There were also pieces in the back and sides that flat ironed that were clearly different form the section of her hair that had not encountered a flat iron. Chanda now has to manage the flat ironed portion by finding ways for it to blend in with her kinky hair. This sounds like a transition but backwards. She has to put in extra effort to those parts of her hair to give it a textured look so it will blend with the rest of her hair. Every couple of months she cuts a little off. She will have to do so until it is all gone which will likely take about a year and a half. 

My best advice is to do it right the first time so you won't have to repair your hair after you big chop. That has to be the worst feeling; getting rid of your relaxed ends only to find damaged hair underneath. Transitioning can be hard work and you never want your effort to be in vein. Be extremely careful with heat and if you must use it, apply it on a low setting and try not to use it often.  Finding heatless hairstyles to rock is the key to avoiding heat damage. All it takes is one application on too high of a setting and your mane will never be the same. If you flat ironed your hair throughout your journey, it is likely that you accumulated some damage. You may want to consider transitioning again to discover your true natural locs. A friend a mind did this and couldn't believe how different her hair was after she transitioned the second time. I know it can be addictive; almost as addictive as the creamy crack but just say not. It may be difficult but focus on your goal. Beat the heat!

Chime Edwards (HairCrush)
Instagram: Chime Edwards


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