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.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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