Here Are Some Heat Styling Tool Hacks For Your Hair

Heat doesn't have to be your hair's enemy. It really doesn't.


There are some women I know who wait until fall and winter to flat iron or silk press (you can watch a professional do a silk wrap by clicking here) their hair. When you stop and think about how freakin' hot and humid it is during the summer months, along with how a lot of us are prone to shrinkage during that time of the year, I totally get why. Waiting to apply heat styling tools to your hair during the seasons when you don't have to do it as much is a super smart move if you want to maintain length retention.

So, whether you want to straighten your hair to see how long its gotten, you've got a special occasion coming up where you want to rock a different style, or you simply need a few tips on how to apply heat without wrecking your tresses in the process, here are 10 tips that can make using a blow dryer, curling iron or flat iron something that you don't have to be scared to try.

1. Purchase an Ionic Ceramic Hair Dryer


If you wanna know one of the main reasons why heat damages our hair, it's because we don't have the right kind of tools. Take blow dryers, for example. It wasn't until I got myself an ionic ceramic one that my hair ended up a lot less fried (well, that and not blow drying it while it was wet; I'll get more to that in a minute). The reason why you can't get wrong with that particular kind of dryer is because ionic dryers are able to literally produce millions of negatively charged ions that can manipulate water molecules without damaging your hair's cuticles in the process. How? Because this type of dryer doesn't open up your hair shaft. The ceramic part of this type of hair dryer is able to regulate the temperature in the room that you're drying your hair in, so that it automatically gets hotter or cooler, so that your hair isn't overprocessed by the heat. As a result, a blow dryer that has both of these features, can significantly reduce your chances of experiencing heat damage. If you'd like to try one out, the Conair 1875-Watt Tourmaline Ceramic Dryer receives a lot of praise for getting the job done well.

2. Deep Condition Your Hair Every Wash Day


It's a lot harder to burn a wet blade of grass vs. a dry one. That's pretty much the logic of why you should deep condition your hair. Personally, I'd advise doing it every wash day but definitely before you decide to blow dry, use a curling iron or flat iron your hair. Dry brittle hair isn't able to withstand heat quite like well-moisturized hair can, so definitely apply a thick conditioner after shampooing your hair and let it sit for no less than 30 minutes (even a couple of hours is bomb). Your hair will love you for it.

3. Get Regular Protein Treatments


This is a tip that's important, not just when it comes to protecting your hair from heat damage, but also when helping your hair to gain some real inches. Since our strands are made up of mostly protein (keratin), doesn't it make perfect sense that we'd need to "back our hair up" with a little extra protein from time to time to make sure that it has all that it needs?

As far as the benefits of protein treatments go, they are able to "fill in the gaps" that may occur to your hair shaft due to chemical treatments and heat styling. Protein treatments also can bring elasticity back to your hair and reduce breakage, if your hair seems weaker than usual. And since protein treatments are able to strengthen your locks, then it's another way to keep your hair shielded from heat.

As far as how often you need a protein treatment, every 4-6 weeks is pretty standard. For tips on how to choose the best one, click here.

4. Use a Cream Thermal Heat Protectant


Hey, you can tell yourself that you don't need thermal heat protectant if you want to, but I promise that you'll be lying. One of the main benefits that comes with applying this to your locks before you blow dry your hair is it helps to seal in the moisture as it also slows down the heat conduction whenever you're blow drying your hair. This results in heat being applied more evenly and your hair heating up more gently so that less damage occurs in the long run. The main things to remember when it comes to thermal heat protectants are 1) get one that is silicone-based and 2) if you've got 3- or 4-type hair, go with a cream rather than a liquid or spray. Creams are thicker which means that your hair will be coated—and protected—so much better with one.

5. Let Your Hair Dry (at Least) 60 Percent Before Blow Drying


Lord. If there is a heating faux pas that I used to make, for years and years, it was barely towel drying my hair (it's better to use a T-shirt, by the way; it absorbs the water effectively and is gentler on your locks that a towel is) before pulling my blow dryer out. Then, I heard a YouTube naturalista (I can't remember who exactly) say that she lets her hair air dry at least 60 percent before she blow-dries hers when she's trying to achieve a blowout.

And guess what? That works big time! I'm thinking that a part of it is because barely damp hair has a greater chance of avoiding the smoke and frying that can come when your blow dryer is too hot. Also, since your hair is closer to being dry, you don't need quite as much heat to finish the job. (By the way, medium heat should be more than enough. High temps are for impatient folks and if you're rushing, you shouldn't be applying heat to your hair anyway.)

6. Keep Tools Under 350-400 Degrees


While a lot of people will say that it's impossible to apply heat to your hair without damaging it, there are scientists that disagree. Since 450 degrees can set a piece of paper on fire, many say that if you make sure that your heat styling tools are somewhere between 350-400 degrees (and you don't let your hair sit with that level of heat on it for a long period of time), you should be fine.

That said, it's important that you get a flat iron that has a temperature button setting on it, that you make sure the plates are made out of either tourmaline or titanium (it glides along the hair smoothly and lasts longer than other flat irons), and that you use as little product as necessarily; too much can cause the plates to stick to your hair which could, inadvertently result in heat damage.

7. Blow Dry Thoroughly Before Flat Ironing


Another huge heat styling mistake that you should avoid is going from air drying to flat ironing; that is a surefire way to give your hair heat damage. Instead, after your hair is mostly dry, make sure that you run a blow dryer through your hair. It doesn't have to get as straight as possible (your flat iron will take care of that), but it does need to be significantly stretched. If your blow dryer (on a low or medium setting; nothing more) does most of the work, you can easily do a one-pass with your flat iron and be good to go.

8. Don’t “Pass Through” a Billion Times


If you were to hop on YouTube right now and watch DIY videos on how to use a curling iron or flat iron on natural hair, I doubt you'd see anyone advise that you run an iron through your hair more than twice. While bone straight might be your ultimate goal, oftentimes that can come with damaging your hair in the process (which is totally not worth it). Besides, if you break your hair up into small sections and then use the chase method (which is when you comb through each section and then "chase it" with your iron afterwards), your hair should get pretty straight and if you wrap it up at night, it should remain impressively straight for several days.

9. Go Easy on the Oils


Back when some of us got our hair pressed, grease was sho 'nuf present. I think that's why a lot of us think that we need to inundate our hair with oil while applying a heat styling tool to it now. Actually, that's not the case. Oftentimes, all that does is cause your hair to get hotter than it should which can also cause damage, if not immediately, eventually. While carrier oils like sweet almond, jojoba, avocado, grapeseed, argan and marula oil (it's an oil that contains 60 percent more antioxidants than argan does) are all good for your hair, try and use no more than a dab in your palm while using your tools; then, if you want a little more sheen, run a bit more through your locks after you are done with your curling iron or flat iron. (Bonus tip: Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil into your carrier oil. Your hair will smell divine if you do!)

10. Remember That Less (Frequently) Is More


Finally, if you want your hair to be longer instead of shorter come spring, definitely apply the "less is more" approach. For the most part, putting heat on your hair, more than once every 10 days or so, is going to end up causing some sort of damage. And just how can you know if that is indeed the case? If you notice split ends, white knots on the end of your hair, that your locks are super dry, breaking off or that your hair has a rough texture to it—all of this points to laying off of the heat, trimming your ends and doing some deep conditioning for a while.

Oh, also remember to ONLY apply heat styling tools on clean hair. Otherwise, the dirt, debris and product build-up that you have will literally end up getting "cooked" into your hair shaft, every time you put heat on it.

Welp, there you have it. 10 ways to approach applying heat to your hair. If you put all of them into practice, you'll significantly increase the chances of having the best of both worlds—straight hair when you want it and healthy hair no matter what.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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