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, and 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 necessary; 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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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
If there’s one part of the face that seems to be the most vexing to correct, it’s the under eyes.
This delicate area has a way of being tipped off by our irregular sleep patterns, stress, and the straining that comes from our computers and phone screens. From puffiness to dark circles, it can be irksome to find the right products to soothe our under-eye concerns. Thankfully, there’s one solution that delivers a brighter and more awakened look over time, and that’s under-eye masks and eye patches.
Eye patches are giving our under-eye bags an eviction notice because they can’t hang our glowing faces rent-free. The beauty of these patches is that they are designed to bring your eyes targeted results through concentrated doses of active ingredients directly to the skin under the eyes. Typically made of thin, gel-like material and infused with ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, caffeine, and even green teas, these small but mighty patches depuff your puffiness, brighten your dark circles, or tighten fine lines.
While every under-eye differs in its needs, every eye can benefit from an under-eye mask or patch that suits its concerns. And to help, we’ve put together the best under-eye patches to hydrate, soothe, and brighten your eyes.
The KNC Beauty All Natural Retinol Infused Eye Mask, 5-Pack, is a retinol-infused, all-natural product designed to rejuvenate your eyes. It promises to provide hydration, smoothness, reduced puffiness, and brightness without the use of chemicals. With ingredients like retinol to refine skin texture and stimulate blood flow and aloe to soothe and reduce redness, it's like getting 8 hours of beauty sleep for your eyes.
These cooling hydrogel under-eye masks from Topicals promise to fade the appearance of dark circles and discoloration in just 15 minutes. The set includes six masks and offers benefits that brighten, hydrate, depuff, and cool your under-eye area.
Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Power Brightening Hydra-Gel Eye Patches
Grab these eye contour gel patches to brighten the eye area and combat signs of aging using a powerful form of vitamin C called THD Ascorbate, which is 50 times more potent than traditional vitamin C.
BeautyBio's Bright Eyes consists of 15 colloidal silver-infused eye gel patches designed to provide instant depuffing, brightening, and revitalization to the delicate eye area within 10 minutes. They also contain natural collagen to help diminish the appearance of fine lines, which we love.
These viral hydrogel masks offer moisture and nourishment to rejuvenate tired-looking skin. Their Snail Secretion Filtrate contains "Mucin," an effective moisturizing ingredient that soothes damaged skin and delivers deep hydration, making it suitable for dehydrated and damaged skin types. Your under-eyes will thank you.
Try these caffeine-infused patches to reduce puffiness in the under-eye area. The product features clean, vegan ingredients such as caffeine, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid for deep hydration and moisture delivery.
The Forever Eye Mask is designed to be the “last eye mask you'll ever need.” This thin, lightweight, and reusable eye patch can hold gels, serums, and creams close to the skin for better absorption, helping your skincare products work more effectively.
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