Hair is Dead! So How Do You Get Your Natural Curls Back After Heat Damage?
Our featured products that repair heat damaged natural hair:
Today I am going to show you how to get your natural curl pattern back from heat damage with a step-by-step plan that works.
I know there are hundreds of articles and Youtube videos out there on how to reverse heat damage on natural curly hair.
But they all miss one crucial point.
Hair is dead. (Well at least beyond the scalp)
It doesn’t matter what you do to it.
The hair that is visible is the hair shaft, which exhibits no biochemical activity and is considered dead. Wikipedia
So stop throwing money on “magic products” that promise to revive curly hair from irreversible damage.
Just like you cannot unscramble an egg, you cannot “unfry” your hair.
Heat damage is a bitch.
When you’ve scorched the hell out of your hair, you know exactly what you’re up against:
- Loss of curls
- Crinkly hair damage (tree split ends)
- Loss of natural spring in your hair
And the sheer frustration of multiple textures driving you mad.
Trying to hide those limp curls that refuse to blend in every time I style my hair!
But there is hope. A different way to get your true curls back 👍
If you follow the method I am going to reveal – I promise you’ll have a full head of happy, springy, and bouncy curls again.
With the exact degree of curliness and texture, you had before.
Bold promise? Definitely.
But stay with me.
What’s the big secret I’m talking about?
It’s called faking your curls until they grow out.
It’s all about knowing how to transition away from your damaged hair.
And this is exactly what I am going to show you.
So without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Heat is a curl killer.
And when your curls take a hit from thermal damage, it’s desolating, to say the least.
In my pursuit to stretch my hair from curly to straight with temperatures that were high enough to roast a chicken, I ended up with severely heat damaged curly hair that looked like dry ramen noodles.
Yes, I’ve been guilty of straightening my natural hair with intense heat as most misguided teenagers do.
Up to the point that my hair became so unpredictable, I couldn’t even recognize my true natural curl pattern.
And my friends would tag me on Facebook with shit like this:
Definitely not funny, but it’s fair to say:
I was officially having a curl crisis.
- My curls were vanishing
- My hair felt limp and stringy (loosen curl pattern)
- I had weird curls with straight ends
- My ends were doing the rice crispy (snap, crackle, pop)
- My hair was mixed textures central
- And it wouldn’t grow past BSL
This was when I realized that my once vibrant and poppin tendrils had had too many run-ins with the flat iron.
It was time to put my hands up and admit:
I’ve damaged my natural hair beyond repair over the years.
It was so bad that I had to stop using my hair straightener, and desperately try to reverse the heat damage.
I spent months trying to restore my natural curls, and after a lot of patience, hair products, tears, and sweat …
I eventually found a way.
But I hate to be the bearer of bad news here.
The brutal truth is this:
You cannot undo heat damage in your hair.
There is no easy solution to renew your fried curls overnight.
There is NO instant heat damage recovery.
To repair damaged hair from straightening abuse, you’ve got to understand 4 simple things:
- Your curl pattern (what is my curl pattern)
- Denaturation process of the hair
- How natural hair grows
- How to cut damaged hair
It’s all about growing out heat damaged hair and hack off the dodgy ends that refuse to blend in with your curls.
After reading this article, I guarantee you’ll find that Aha! Moment and thank me later.
Because this is a very thorough, well-researched, and personally-tested experiment.
I’ve gone above and beyond, done a lot of research backed by science and professional hairstylists, to show you how to restore natural curl pattern to heat damaged hair.
And transition like a boss.
Table Of Contents
- The Reason Why You Cannot Reverse Heat Damage
- The Science Behind Your Curl Pattern
- What Does Heat Damaged Hair Look Like?
- So How Do You Get Your Curly Hair Back After Heat Damage?
- The Best Products For Heat Damaged Natural Hair
- Protective Hairstyles – How to Grow Out Heat Damaged Natural Hair Fast
- How to Cut Heat Damaged Hair
- How to Protect Natural Hair from Heat Damage
- Curly to Straight Hair Without Heat
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How to Repair Heat Damaged African American Natural Curly Hair Without Cutting It?
- Why is My Curly Hair Going Straight?
- What to Use to Straighten Natural Hair Without Heat?
- How to Make Curly Hair Straight Permanently at Home
- How Can I Keep My Naturally Curly Hair Straight After Flat Ironing?
- How Can I Fix Dry Curly Hair?
- How to Flat Iron Natural Hair Without Damaging It
- How to Treat Heat Damaged Natural Hair
- Now It’s Your Turn to Reclaim Your Curls
Here’s what I will cover in this post:
- Why you cannot reverse heat damaged on natural hair
- What makes your hair curly (curl pattern explained)
- How natural hair grows and restores its curl pattern
- Why you never lose your natural curl pattern
- Common signs of heat damaged natural hair
- How to get your natural, healthy curls back gradually
- Transitioning from heat damaged hair
- The best products for heat damaged natural black hair
- Protective hairstyles for heat damaged natural hair
- How to grow out heat damaged curly hair
- How to cut off heat damaged hair – DevaCut vs. Ouidad Cut
- Tips on how to straighten your curly hair naturally
- Tips on how to keep natural hair straight after flat ironing
The Reason Why You Cannot Reverse Heat Damage
Does your hair bleed when you cut it?
Do you feel any burning when you apply 450° F heat to straighten your curls?
Hair is dead.
You can mold it into any shape you want.
- Curl it
- Straighten it
- Brush it
- Abuse it with heat
You won’t feel any pain or discomfort.
Because the moment your hair strand sprouts out of the follicle, it has:
- No blood supply
- No nervous system
- No muscles
- No biochemical activity
- No cell regeneration
The hair shaft (visible part) is not a living tissue that can regenerate itself.
The dead tubular cell of protein also known as the hair shaft is nothing more than just an elongated piece of keratin structure.
So How Does Hair Grow If It’s Dead?
This is where things get interesting.
Hair grows from the follicle. The base or the bulb as it’s commonly known.
The follicle is the only “living” portion of the hair that actively produces protein (keratin) and exhibits any biochemical activity. It also divides cells to move them up and push your hair to grow out.
Contrary to what most people think, hair does not grow at the ends. It rises from the base and pushes the older part out.
So what I am saying here is:
It’s the base of the hair that you need to focus on.
This is where your hair renews itself.
This is where your new curl springs out (without damage).
Curl pattern is set in the follicles.
So you never actually lose it regardless of how much you trash your hair.
Allow me to explain …
The Science Behind Your Curl Pattern
The shape of your follicles is the main contributing factor to shape of your hair.
It all happens BELOW the scalp where heat cannot do any damage.
Your follicles directly impact the twists, turns, coils, and even the texture of the hair that they produce.
Let’s see what makes your curly hair curly …
Black Hair Curl Pattern Is Made From Oval-shaped Follicles
If your hair follicles are round and symmetrical, your hair grows out straight.
If your follicles are oval-shaped, your hair grows out curly.
And the flatter the shape of the oval, the curlier and kinkier your curls are.
- Round symmetrical follicle = Straight hair
- Oval-shaped follicle = Curly hair
- Flat oval-shaped follicle = Curlier and kinkier hair
Now listen to this:
The shape of your follicles is a genetic gift, and each follicle will keep producing curly hair from below the scalp.
Enough to Curl Your Hair: Scientists know how to change your curl pattern »
Another genetic factor that helps your hair stay curly is the angle at which it grows out.
The Angle of The Dermis Looks Like A Hook
Compared to straight hair which tunnels vertically up from the skin’s surface into the dermis, curly hair grows at an angle.
According to a study from L’Oreal in Clichy France, curly hair samples from African volunteers showed dermal implantations of the follicles were curved with a retrocurvature at the level of the bulb .
The study proved that the bulb itself was bent in the shape of a golf club, producing hair that was dissymmetrical.
More importantly, it was also observed that the hair maintained its unpredictable curvature during its growth cycle.
But that’s not all.
Scientists also explain that the curlier your hair is, the more it needs support in each twist and bend to prevent it from breaking.
This is where disulfide bonds play an important role.
Disulfide Bonds Keeps Your Curls Together
Because curly hair grows at an angle, different regions of the hair come closer together when they grow.
These interactions create bonds also known as cysteine or disulfide bonds.
Disulfide bonds are linkages and cross-bonds that create a network of strength to reinforce the hair fiber. They are bridges that keep your hair flexible and allow them to move without breaking.
Finally, you can thank your parents for your gorgeous curls.
Curly Hair is 95% Genetic (TCHH Genes)
Scientists from the Queensland Institute of Research have now revealed that the Trichohyalin gene (TCHH) is mainly responsible for creating curls. 
Professor Nick Martin, head of Genetic Epidemiology Labs at the university says that the variation in this gene is what determines the straightness or curliness of the hair.
And if you have African American roots, there is up to 95% of inheriting curly hair.
In a study conducted in 2009, it was found that the genes of curly hair have a heritability of 85-95%, which means that nine-tenths of the cases of variation in hair texture can be linked back to DNA. 
So there you have it.
Your DNA is your nature’s curling iron.
God has designed you with the most delicate details even up to the degree of curliness in your hair.
Do you still think you lose your natural curl pattern from heat damage?
There’s no need to panic.
Let’s just slap some lipstick and makeup on the ugly part, and let the new growth from the follicles push them out.
With all these contributing factors, it’s fair to say that:
You can definitely bring back your curls.
Because your natural curl producing machine is still there. Right below your scalp.
So let’s work on finding and concealing the damage until your new curls grow out healthy again.
What Does Heat Damaged Hair Look Like?
If you’re reading this article right now, chances are, you already know what it looks like.
Heat damaged curls make you look like the bride of Frankenstein.
It undermines the beautiful curly hair that you were once so proud of.
For Afro hair, the most visible sign of heat damage is the loss of curls.
Even washing your hair frequently will not restore your natural curls because the problem lies deeper in the protein structure of the hair.
Let’s do a simple test to find out how damaged your hair is:
- Wet a strand of hair
- Let it soak for a few minutes
- Stretch that strand
- Now let it go
If that strand curls back into its original shape, then you’re good.
If it stays straight and doesn’t bounce back into shape, then your curls are gone.
But there are other more obvious signs you cannot miss.
Signs of heat damage in your hair you see every day:
- Spotty and unpredictable hair
- Mixed and confusing curl textures
- High porosity
- Your hair won’t curl anymore
- Your curl has lost its bounce
- Your curl cannot hold its style anymore
- Puffy roots and wavy ends
- Your hair feels like it’s stopped growing
- Loose curls that clump more
- Too many tangles and knots after washing
- Excessive shedding and hairbrush full of broken hair
- Bubble hair symptoms
- Curly roots but straight ends
- Split ends that refuse to blend in with the rest of your curls
- Your hair color looks wrong
Recommended reading: How does heat damage hair »
The Tapering Effect
Heat damaged hair tends to have a tapering effect.
The hair closest to the scalp is generally the thickest, and sections get smaller as you get closer to the ends, thus giving an illusion that your hair is not getting any longer.
You Are Unable to Retain Length
Curly hair with straight ends needs constant trimming to make it look tidy and uniform.
That’s why you never see any length retention or growth.
Now that you understand what your hair looks like after it’s been cringing under the burning heat let me explain how you get heat damaged hair (the causes).
Denaturation – The Main Cause For Loose Curls
I am going to make this simple for you to understand by using eggs as an example.
Because eggs are complete functional proteins with highly organized structures similar to human hair.
Egg proteins organize themselves in a very compact form sustained by weak bonds (similar to curly hair).
The proteins in an egg white are globular, which means that the long protein molecule is twisted, folded, and curled up into a spherical shape.
A variety of chemical bonds keep the protein tight as it drifts placidly in water that surrounds it.
When you apply heat, it ruffles the egg-white proteins, breaks the weak bonds (disulfide bonds), and allows the protein glob to unfold and change shape.
This is called Denaturation.
Denaturation disrupts the structures of any protein and changes the 3D shape of the molecule.
Similarly, curling straight hair or straightening curly hair requires denaturation.
Both processes require heat to force the disulfide bonds in your hair to reshape.
Just like a raw egg changes its shape and color when it’s fried, once a protein is denatured, there’s nothing you can do.
Denaturation causes irreversible changes because:
- Protein cells lose their biological activities
- Cells lose their ability to function
- Cells lose their ability to hold moisture
- Protein cells are unable to refold
In the context of curly hair, this is what happens when you apply heat.
Damaged Curl Pattern – Yes This Shit Is Real!
According to research from the Journal of Cosmetology & Trichology, styling hair above 185° C with a hair straightener triggers the denaturation process of microfibrils in your hair.
When excess heat damage these structures, the protein molecules dissolve and break down, therefore making them unable to hold the structure of the hair fibers.
“If you heat keratin to around 215-235° C (419-455° F) the alpha helix starts to melt. This is a physical change and it is irreversible, your hair will retain the shape of the melted keratin at a molecular level. Your hair shows you this molecular damage by not getting back into its natural curl or wave and staying straighter.”
Heat denaturation disintegrates the protein structure of the hair and causes loss of enzymatic activity.
At a microscopic level, heat denaturation destroys the molecular machines of protein that give your hair its natural characteristics.
This is why your curls become loose and lifeless.
Your curls become akin to a fried egg, which cannot be reversed into a raw egg.
So How Do You Get Your Curly Hair Back After Heat Damage?
Now that you understand how denaturation damages your hair, you know it’s pointless even trying to hold on to damaged hair.
But here’s the silver lining …
Unlike an egg, your hair has the ability to regrow.
So let’s take advantage of this.
I am going to make this simple for you and break it down into 3 stages.
- Stage 1 – Conceal the damage (Fake your curls)
- Stage 2 – Let your hair grow (Protective hairstyles)
- Stage 3 – Then cut the damage (DevaCut / Carve & Slice)
Let’s start with Stage 1 – Faking damaged curls with restorative products.
Let me walk you through my hand-picked heat damaged hair products you need.
I’ve personally tried and tested all of the products below, and I can personally vouch for all of them.
The Best Products For Heat Damaged Natural Hair
Scroll on to find out why I’ve selected these products:
The Best Shampoo for Heat Damaged Hair
Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor oil is by far the best shampoo for dry, damaged curly hair.
Loaded with reparative Omegas from Castor oil, and a unique blend of organic Shea butter, this shampoo helps your hair to lock in plenty of moisture.
Treating heat damaged natural hair is all about protein and moisture.
This shampoo complements the Aphogee keratin treatment perfectly as it’s:
- Color safe
- And works perfectly as a keratin pre-treatment shampoo
To use it:
Apply to wet hair, massage gently from roots to tips, and then rinse thoroughly.
You will notice fewer tangles, great slip in your hair and most importantly less breakage overall.
Follow up on your shampoo with a towel that is gentle to your hair.
The Friction-Free DevaCurl Microfiber Towel
Hair is most fragile when it’s wet.
Using a cotton towel will rough up your strands when it’s more vulnerable to breakage because cotton materials create friction.
Cotton absorbs moisture only from the surface to leave uneven cuticles with imbalanced moisture which is what makes your hair frizz.
Microfiber, unlike cotton, is made of materials that are 100 times finer than the human hair.
Every 1 square inch of a microfiber towel contains 200 000 fibers to create a larger surface to absorb moisture.
And even better …
The material absorbs just the right amount of moisture without leaving your hair with tangles and dryness.
It displaces moisture effectively to allow your hair to dry faster.
Just scrunch your hair and leave it on for a few minutes. Voila!
Here’s what I like about the Deva Curl microfiber towel:
- You can use it for up to 500 washes
- It doesn’t leave loose bits, lint or fluff in your hair
- It’s anti-static – your curls stay put
- No rubbing – no friction – no frizz
It’s easy to store, and it won’t take space in your bathroom.
Definitely one of the best products for dry, damaged curly hair I can always rely on.h3>Aphogee Protein Treatment for Heat Damaged Natural Hair
Heat damaged hair needs protein.
But you can’t just throw any protein on your hair.
You need a protein that has a high concentration of functional keratin that works exactly like the cells in your hair.
You need functional keratin that can patch chip, cracks, and breaks in the cuticles and reinforce the layers within.
The Aphogee for heat damaged hair treatment does just that.
- It mends cracks in the cuticles
- It works for every curl type
- And it strengthens the layers
According to customer reviews, Aphogee is the fastest protein treatment to restore curls.
It immediately works to improve:
- Moisture retention
- Surface smoothing
- And structural keratin repair
By infusing restorative proteins, a balanced blend of moisturizers, and emollients into your hair, it repairs cuticle damage that will otherwise leave you with limp curls.
Here’s what you get by using the Aphogee protein treatment for heat damaged natural hair:
- More defined curls
- Strong hair from the core cross sections
- More natural shine
- Less breakage and shedding
- Protected ends that won’t split
In short, it makes your curly curls POP!
Is it the best protein hair treatment for curly damaged hair?
Aphoghee gets a big thumbs up from me 👍
Here’s what you get:
- Step 1 – Protein treatment
Packed with a concentrated blend of magnesium and keratin
- Step 2 – Intense moisturizing conditioner
The balancing moisture your hair needs after a keratin treatment
Let me show you how to use it.
To get the best out of any keratin treatment, I recommend you use a deep cleansing shampoo to clarify your hair first.
It helps to prime your hair for maximum keratin absorption and better results.
How to cure heat damaged natural hair with Aphogee (step-by-step):
- Wash your hair with the clarifying shampoo
- Towel dry with the microfiber towel
- Section your hair in 4
- Apply the keratin evenly to each section
- Saturate your hair with the keratin
- Concentrate more on damaged areas
- Leave in on for until it dries up
- Use your hair dryer on medium heat to go over it
- Note: Your hair will feel hard like a shell
- Make sure you do not agitate it
- Rinse out
- Apply the balancing conditioner
- Leave in for 2 minutes
A little word of warning here:
Your hair will feel hard and crisp during the treatment, make sure you don’t agitate it further. Avoid using combs and brushes.
And yes, it stinks a bit – not overpowering, but don’t worry. The balancing conditioner neutralizes the smell.
It is, after all, a small price to pay if you want to bring back your natural curls.
Bottom line: Aphogee protein is the best product to get your curls back by concealing damage and encouraging growth.
If you are on the edge of going for the big chop, might as well jump in with both feet with this treatment.
The Ouidad Heat Damaged Hair Mask (It Melts Like Butter!)
This hair mask will revive your natural curls by literally melting down the goodness of rich Mafura butter and Kalahari melon seed oil into your hair.
First time I used it, it felt like a tropical fruit cocktail in my hair.
The Ouidad Melt down mask does exactly what it says on the tin.
Smear it onto your head, and you will feel it starts to warm and tingle.
I am not talking heat-lamp warm, but just a little toasty to help the nutritive ingredients penetrate the hair shaft and start working.
This mask has the technology to make it heat on your scalp, so you don’t have to sit under a hooded hair dryer to allow the mask to infuse into your hair.
You will feel your curls bouncing back within minutes.
It definitely delivers on the promise of instant elastic and defined curls without the hassle.
Here’s what I love about the Ouidad Melt Down mask:
- It works in less than 10 minutes
- No heat required
- Use it anywhere on the go
- No mess
- It spreads well and evenly
- It rehydrates your curls for more definition
Even with high-density hair and thick strands, you won’t need much to coat all of your hair.
With natural ingredients like:
- Mafura butter
- Kalahari melon seed oil
- Acai pulp oil
- Jojoba oil
It injects a potent infusion of moisture to transform your limp hair into bouncy re-energized curls.
How to use it:
- Apply it on damp hair
- Work it evenly from roots to ends
- Leave it on for 10-15 minutes
- Rinse thoroughly
- Use at least 2X a week
Here’s a quick video:
The Best Deep Conditioner for Heat Damaged Curly Hair
The Deva Curl Heaven In Hair treatment for damaged curls drenches your severely dry and damaged hair with nourishing butter.
It is the intense moisturizing curly hair treatment every natural need.
By saturating the cuticle and cortex with moisture, it gives your hair:
- And luster
I call it the do-it-all deep conditioner that repairs heat-damaged curly hair.
It has a potent combination of natural ingredients and excludes harsh ingredients that can magnify damage like Sulfates, Silicones, and Sodium.
Slather your roots and ends with this Deva Curl mask and let the deep penetrating Murumuru butter, Capuacu butter, and Vitamin-infused cacao butter work their magic.
Here’s how you use it:
- Apply a generous amount to wet hair with fingertips
- Let it sit for 15 – 30 mins
- Rinse well
Apply it 2 -3 times a week, and see the difference it makes.
Snap this up if your hair needs intense hydration.
Bonus point: You’ll love its mesmerizing scent of Lemongrass.
Now let’s hit up stage 2 of the process.
Protective Hairstyles – How to Grow Out Heat Damaged Natural Hair Fast
If you’ve been overdosing on the heat, transitioning back to your natural curls is a tough challenge.
Because you are always frustrated with mixed textures and hair that look all over the place.
Plus there’s the constant temptation to style it, blow dry it, and trying to fix kinks to make your hair look better.
But let’s not forget:
When your hair is heat damaged, it breaks easily.
Any type of manipulation like combing, styling, even running your hands through them will break your fragile hair, therefore making it look thin on top.
What you want is to allow your hair to grow and maintain length retention as much as you can.
To do that, a protective hairstyle is your best friend.
It will keep your hair out of the way.
A protective hairstyle:
- Allows you to go low-maintenance
- Saves you time on daily styling
- Allows you to forget about your hair and let it be
- Helps your hair retain length until you cut off the damage
- Allows you to transition back to your natural hair smoothly
- Masks all the different textures that drive you crazy
- Gives your hair uniformity
- Helps you wash your hair less
- Injects a new vibe into your overall look
- Reduces the need for mechanical damage from combing styling etc
- Helps make your natural curls tighter and neat
“When you wear your ends tucked away, your hair is in a protective style. This is important because your ends are the oldest and most fragile part of the strand.”NaturallyCurly
When your hair is worn out, the ends are exposed – says Shari Harbinger, Co-Founder of the DevaCurl Academy.
A protective hairstyle protects your ends to minimize and reduce breakage.
It allows you to coddle and slowly slip your damaged ends while playing to your hair’s strengths.
Most important of all:
A protective hairstyle encourages length retention and allows your natural hair to grow.
Just tuck it away and let your follicles do the work.
Once I stopped playing with my hair, I noticed more growth and less shedding. I started to see more length retention.
Protective hairstyles are a curly-haired girl’s best friend for recovering from heat damage.
Protective hairstyles for damaged natural curly hair you can try:
- Mini twists
- Classic braids
- Sealed hair with twist
- Braided crown with low bun
- Natural flat twist hairstyle
- Pineapple updo
- Protective twists
- Flat twist updo
- Twisted Chignon
- Twist with side bang
- Fauxhawk with twists and cornrows
- Multi-Sized bun
- Upswept flat twists updo
- Asymmetrical braided updo
- Goddess braids
- Short natural twist updo
- Crown updo and spiral braid
- Side twist hairstyle
- Braids with curls
- Shoulder length faux locs
- Jumbo twist updo with buns
Regardless of whichever hairstyle you choose, before installing it, make sure:
- You clarify your hair with the Shea Moisture shampoo
- Do your 2 step Aphogee keratin treatment
- And use a hair mask to give your hair plenty of moisture
Repeat this process every time in between takedown and reinstalling your locks.
Here’s my favorite hairstyle that never fails me …
The Mini Twists
Mini Twists are one of the most dependable hairstyles for heat damaged natural hair.
- Lasts for 3 – 6 weeks
- Prevents hair from getting frizzy
- More versatility with styling
- Gives your hair a uniform look
But whichever one you choose, it’s important that you take care of your protective hairstyle to prevent it from accumulating dirt and loosening.
Tips for protective hairstyles:
- Keep it moisturized
- Keep it clean. Dirt, grease, and products will build up
- Don’t leave it for too long
- Let your hair dry overnight when you wash
- Sleep on a satin/silk pillowcase to keep it in lock
Use the right products to keep your locks neat, tidy, tight, and long-lasting.
My fav products when I’m sporting locks is Dollylocks.
Check the range below:
1. Dollylocks Tightening Spray
2. Dollylocks Dreadlocks Shampoo
3. Dollylocks Conditioning Oil
4. Dollylocks Tightening Gel
5. Dollylocks Refreshing Spray
How to Cut Heat Damaged Hair
The next stage after growing your curly hair out is to hack off the damaged parts so that your new curls can cascade into shape gracefully.
But this is where most people get it wrong.
They choose a traditional hairstylist who has no idea how curly hair works.
“The biggest mistake I see people making when cutting curly hair is approaching it as if it’s the same as all the other hair patterns they are used to cutting.”
Says Terry Whiddon – ColorProof Evolved Color Care Platform Artist. BehindTheChair.com
Traditionally, all trimming techniques are designed for straight hair.
Your stylist will wet your hair, stretch it, or even straighten it before cutting.
This is why you end up with uneven, chopped up, and unnatural cuts that make you look like a 4-year-old with a Christmas tree on top of your head.
Cutting curly hair is not the same as cutting straight hair.
It’s like sculpting:
- 40% art
- 40% science
- And 20% talent
No wonder why hairdressers charge more to cut afro hair.
Only a proper curly hair stylist (curl professional) understands:
- Curl speak
- How to cut curly hair with deep graduated layers
- The natural shrinkage of your hair
- The direction your curl moves
- Natural hair with no curl pattern
- How much spring your hair has when it’s dry
- And your hair’s growth pattern
So beware of hairstylists that straighten or wet your hair first before cutting. Because wet or stretched hair looks longer. So there’s the illusion that more has to be cut.
When your hair dries, it shrinks in an uneven, and unpredictable manner with holes and choppy layers. Oouch!!
A curly haircut is more about making each curl look its best. Not just a way to trim off damaged ends.
We’ve all been there before.
There is nothing more frustrating than getting a chop that you regret the next day.
So choose your hair stylist wisely and make sure you’re getting the best haircut that:
- Restores and enhances your natural curl pattern
- Enables you to transition from the heat damage
- De-bulks your hair
- Has no visible hard lines in it
- Gives your hair layers that move
- Makes your curls move down and become organized
- Gives your hair movement and consistency
- Gives you more creativity with your curls
You want a hairstylist that can guarantee what your hair will look like after the cut.
It’s all about SHAPE – A nicely de-bulked sculpted mane that allows your curls to fall back into its natural shape.
Let me show you the 2 best techniques you can adopt for cutting off heat damaged natural hair:
How to Get Rid of Heat Damaged Hair with DevaCut
There’s a good reason why there are more than 28000 posts with the #DevaCut hashtag on Instagram.
Every curly-haired girl is obsessed with this genius curl cutting technique.
Let me tell you why:
DevaCut is an exclusive and highly coveted hair cutting technique pioneered by the world famous DevaChan salon in New York.
Developed by Loraine Massey, the co-owner and author of the Curly Girl Handbook, the DevaCut hair cutting technique is customized for every curl type to preserve curl pattern.
Every hairstylist who does the DevaCut needs to be certified and trained by curl experts.
Also known as a Deva Curl specialist or a Curl Master, a trained curl specialist can customize a haircut based on your unique curl pattern by just looking at your hair in its pure natural state.
Here’s how it works:
On the day of your haircut, the curl specialist will ask you to come to the salon with your hair:
- And falling naturally
Most importantly the hairstylist will insist you don’t have any products in your hair.
After analyzing your curl pattern:
- How it grows
- How it stretches
- How much spring it has when it’s dry
- And how much it clumps
The stylist will give you an exact definition of how your hair will look like after the haircut. So there are no nasty surprises here.
Now let me explain how the haircut is different from traditional hair cutting methods.
1. Hair is cut dry
You don’t wear your hair wet, so why would you cut it that way?
Makes sense. Right?
A DevaCut hairstylist cuts your hair dry without any tension to see where your curls fall naturally. He/she will connect the lines visually and check your hair at different angles to create elevations (a fancy term for layering).
2. Your hair’s spring factor is important
According to DevaCurl’s curl professionals, your hair’s spring factor is important when giving a haircut.
That’s why the hairstylist cuts your hair in an unaltered wash-and-go state to understand better how much hair needs to be taken off.
“You cut depending on the spring factor… If the hair was very curly or coily, it would spring a lot so you would take less hair off,” she explains. “The curly girls are typically afraid to have their hair cut because, number one, it does shrink up so much. And, number two, because oftentimes it seems like it’s taking so long to grow.” Cutting the hair dry addresses this concern, since it allows the stylist to better gauge how much hair should be taken off.”
Judy Rabinowitz, senior stylist at Devachan – Refinery29
3. Customized for your unique curl pattern
No two coily heads are alike.
That’s why Judy Rabinowitz, senior stylist at DevaChan salon NYC believes that every client’s haircut should be different.
The DevaCut is customized to work with your unique curl pattern, and the stylist will consider all factors that are unique to your hair for example:
- African American curl patterns
- Afro Caribbean curl patterns
- Natural shrinkage
- Thin or thick hair
- Loose natural curls
- Your curl definition
- How often you wear wash and go
- If you have multi-textures
- How much volume you want
Watch and see how YouTuber Afia Asantewaa’s Type 4 Afro gets a gorgeous, sculpted shape within a matter of minutes.
DevaCut will transform your multi-textured head of curls into a uniform curl pattern.
Most importantly remove the damaged ends without giving you the dreaded pyramid shape.
Another big hit among naturals is the Carve and Slice method.
The Ouidad Carve & Slice Haircut
The Ouidad Carve and Slice method is a high precision haircut that removes weight in sections to enable your curls to fit together like pieces of a puzzle.
The idea behind it is simple:
Each curl should fall back into place where it naturally fits.
If you want a consistent and flawless hairstyle with plenty of movement and well-defined ringlets, then the Ouidad haircut is for you.
Why is it called Carve & Slice?
The Carving process is to remove hair from tighter thicker curls.
The Slicing process is to remove less hair to create volume and shape.
After carving and slicing your curly hair, the curl specialist uses the Rake and Shake method to define your curls instead of scrunching your hair.
Like DevaCurl, Ouidad is also one of the world’s most renown hair salons created by Ouidad herself – also known as the Queen of the curl.
According to Ouidad, curls are not consistent from day to day.
So when you cut them, you have to ensure that they are shaped into a natural pattern that allows movement and consistency.
The Ouidad Carve & Slice method focuses on cutting hair from the inside out to allow curls to move within themselves.
And what I like most about this technique is:
Unlike traditional haircuts that address length, the Ouidad cut addresses interior challenges like texture, shape, and layers that blend in effortlessly.
If you don’t have an Ouidad or DevaChan hair salon near you, I’ve gathered a list of inspirational videos that show how to cut damaged hair at home.
Check them out here:
- Melanie Komaya – Cutting off my heat damaged hair! – YouTube
- DeeJ085 – How to get rid of heat damage on natural hair at home
- NaturalNeiicey – I cut my heat damage off, and I did not use sheers!!
- Fay Douglas – I cut my hair – From damaged ends to thick and full
How to Protect Natural Hair from Heat Damage
Repeat after me:
Preventing your hair from losing its curl pattern is easier than getting it back after heat damage.
I know it’s hard to resist the occasional blowout and perfectly put together sleek hairstyles. After all, variety is the spice of life regardless of your hair texture.
Here are my tips on how to keep your natural curls healthy when using heat:
1. Start Clean
- Clean hair
- Clean hair straightener
Never use heat on dirty hair, and never use a dirty hair straightener.
Think about it:
What happens when you use a hair straightener on dirty hair?
All the products you’ve used like gels, hair sprays, and dry shampoos stick to the hot plates, and they melt.
This results in hair snagging.
Moreover, these products progressively add up and build a layer on your plates, therefore, reducing their ability to transfer direct heat to your hair.
What happens instead …
You end up using more heat because you feel your hair straightener is not producing enough heat to make your curly hair straight.
To prevent this:
- Use a clarifying shampoo to wash your hair
- Always clean your straightener plates
A clarifying shampoo purges all product buildup to make your hair a clean slate.
Wipe your hair straightener plates with a damp cloth to remove dirt, broken hair pieces, and most importantly product buildup.
This will ensure you use less heat and fewer passes to get the results you want.
It also helps to style your hair faster.
2. Know your hair’s heat tolerance
Do you know what causes heat damaged hair 99% of the time?
Not knowing how much heat to use on your hair.
Just because your sister can fire up her flat iron to 450° F, doesn’t mean it will work for you too.
Most people don’t know how much heat their hair can handle.
If your hair is thin and fragile – it makes sense to use less heat.
If your hair is thick and coarse – you will use a lot of heat.
But I get it. It’s not always that simple.
It took me ages to fully understand my natural curly hair patten, and I take it you’re probably still confused about yours.
To help you with this, I did some extensive research on the subject to make a chart that will help you identify the temperature ranges you need for your hair type.
Here it is:
Just match your hair type and use the recommended heat settings.
This chart gives you a good idea of your hair’s heat tolerance.
3. Use the right straightener size
Make sure you use the right hair straightener plate size according to your hair length.
- Short hair – Slim plates
- Long hair – wide plates
If you have long hair and you’re using a small flat iron, you will need more passes to cover a large section of your hair.
That’s why for long hair, a wide plate works better as it covers more surface area faster.
If you have short hair and you’re using a wide plate, you are more likely adding too much concentrated heat on a smaller section of hair.
4. Use moisture to buffer heat
Moisture in hair works as a buffer to slow down the distribution of heat.
When your hair is dry and brittle, heat will rapidly travel through it. Think of how fast heat can ravage a dry forest.
To prevent this, add moisture with a deep conditioning mask.
The Deva Curl heaven in hair moisture treatment is an excellent product to prevent heat damage when straightening hair (any type and texture).
5. Avoid Bubble Hair – Never flat iron dripping wet hair
Never add direct heat to dripping wet hair.
This will give you bubble hair. A condition that causes air bubbles from steam to form inside the hair shaft.
Air bubbles expand the hair shaft and make them crack.
“Running the iron over damp hair creates steam and causes bubbles to form within the hair fiber, which cracks along the hair shaft. Once the crack reaches the strand’s cuticle (which is the outermost part of your hair, and acts as a protectant), you’ll start seeing damage in the form of split ends and broken hair.”
To help you dry your hair, use a microfiber towel.
It absorbs all excess water faster than a cotton towel, and you don’t need to rub it on your hair.
A microfiber towel doesn’t create friction at all. So less detangling.
It all adds up to help you prep your hair better and get ready faster.
6. Use heat protection
Heat protection adds a lightweight non-sticky layer to shield your hair from intense direct heat.
This is the most trusted, and the best way to protect your hair from heat damage according to professional hairstylists.
A heat protection spray acts as a filler and sealant to the hair’s cuticle, and it also provides a smooth finish.
Apply the solution from roots to ends and distribute it evenly for maximum coverage.
Here are the best products that protect hair from heat damage:
7. One Pass – Don’t Overdo it
You only need one stroke of heat on your hair to make it straight.
If you find yourself going over the same section of hair multiple times, then you are doing it wrong or you are using the wrong tools.
Check out the T3 brand of hair straighteners. They are specially designed for one pass straightening.
Keep your flat iron moving.
Don’t keep the heat in one place for more than 5 seconds.
Keep your plates moving along the hair to avoid heat concentrating in one place.
Another useful tip: Avoid tension as you move along.
Keep a steady flow, don’t press the plates too hard.
8. Use the Comb-chase method
This is my favorite technique that always works.
The comb-chase technique allows you to separate and loosen your hair while using a hair straightener.
It’s simple and easy to do.
You simply run a comb in tandem with your straightener.
This technique helps you to:
- Do one pass straightening
- Avoid concentrating heat in one place
It also helps to ventilate your hair while you are styling.
Note: Make sure you buy a heat-resistant and anti-static comb.
Here are the best chase combs you can use:
9. Get a good hair straightener
If you want to avoid hair straightener damage, do not cut corners with a cheap straightener.
Invest in a premium model that gives you the following benefits:
- Good heat distribution
- Ionic heat
- Smooth plates
- Easy glide
- Fast results
A good hair straightener helps you style your hair faster with optimum heat and less damage.
I recommend the Cloud 9 Touch flat iron:
And my last tip is all about getting that smooth finish.
How to Stop Natural Hair from Frizzing After Straightening?
Frizzy ends after straightening natural hair is a common problem I see a lot of people talk about on online forums.
Here are some examples:
- Why is my hair so frizzy after straightening it?
- Why does my hair frizz after flat ironing???
- So, what to do when your hair gets POOFY after you straighten it?
- Why do my ends remain frizzy after I flat iron my hair?
I get it.
The lingering frizz after a long session of flat ironing can be frustrating.
It’s like your hair is telling you to lay off the heat and get back to being kinky curly.
But do you know why this happens?
Because your hair has high porosity.
When you apply heat, moisture from the hair escapes easily through the big cracks. Therefore, your hair becomes vulnerable to outside humidity creeping in.
Instant frizz after straightening is a sign that your hair is constantly trying to absorb moisture from the humid air to maintain its level of hydration.
Let me show you how to flat iron natural hair without frizz using 2 solutions that work every time:
- Wash your hair with a high porosity moisture seal shampoo
- Apply anti-humectant products after heat styling
The High Porosity moisture seal shampoo
This shampoo from Shea Moisture does exactly what it says on the bottle.
Enriched with Mongongo and Hemp seed oils, the creamy, rich formula gently smooths porous and rough hair with its ultra-hydrating and fortifying proteins.
You can wash and straighten natural hair without worrying about humidity creating havoc when you step out.
And if you’re looking to add an extra touch of polishing to your tresses, and make them stay frizz-free throughout the day, an anti-humectant spray will do just that for you.
So scroll on to check out the products I’ve hand-picked for you:
Anti-Humectant products for straight hair without frizzy ends
These anti-humectant moisture blockers will keep your curly hair stay straight, and make your press last until your next wash.
They repel outside moisture to prevent frizz and prevent your natural black hair from reverting no matter what the dew point is threatening to be.
Curly to Straight Hair Without Heat
Now that you know how hard it is to fix heat damaged hair from straightening, I’m sure you’re curious to find out about alternative treatments to make curly hair straight without sticking them between sizzling plates.
Here’s the good news …
There are plenty of ways you can do it. You’ll be surprised.
The trick is to stretch and loosen your curls with protective hairstyles.
This is how I train my natural hair to be straight.
Let me show you how to straighten natural black hair without chemicals or heat.
How to Make Your Hair Straight Naturally
The African Threading Method
Straight from the Motherland, African threading is a traditional technique from West Africa that has been used for centuries as an alternative to heat styling.
Although it doesn’t make your hair pin-straight, this technique gives your curly hair a blown out look. Even on the tightest of curls.
Let me explain how it works:
You wrap the thread around sections of your hair from just above the roots all the way to the ends.
This helps to keep the hair stretched for at least 2 days.
When you unravel the threads, your curly hair will look straight without any shrinkage or damage.
Here’s how to make curly hair straight naturally without heat (the African threading method):
- Start on dry or damp hair
- Moisturize with butter to stretch your hair gently
- Seal hair with oil to make it soft
- Preen your hair like you’re milking a cow
- Stretch more with a rake comb
- Detangle knots if any
- Start threading in small sections from root to ends
- Do not knot the ends
- Wrap all the way down towards the roots again
- Knot it 3-5 inches above your scalp
- Use a wig to protect if you want
- Wait 2-4 days to unravel the threads
Products you’ll need to get started:
1. Annie’s Premium Weaving Set
2. Mason Pearson Rake Comb
Make sure to moisturize and seal your hair properly before threading as this gives your hair maximum smoothness while stretching.
Buttery moisturizers and curl stretching gels are the best products that loosen curl pattern and give you maximum stretch.
Here is a list of products I recommend:
Check out this video on how @Luyando straightens her natural hair without a flat iron using the African Threading technique. It’ awesome.
The Banding Method
Similar to threading, this method involves using soft hair bands instead of cotton threads.
Watch this video for complete step by step instructions:
Products you’ll need:
Make sure you keep the bands loose to avoid ridges.
Also if you want to keep it overnight, do not sleep on a cotton pillowcase. I recommend you get a silk pillowcase to avoid friction and hair breakage.
Try Jumbo Rollers
I know this may sound like a contradiction.
But old-school rollers aren’t only to make your hair curly. They are equally useful to straighten naturally curly hair without heat.
The trick is to use big jumbo rollers.
When you use small ones, they create well-defined curls and ringlets. When you use big ones, they make your hair straight.
Back in the days when women didn’t have heated applicances, they used rollers. And if they couldn’t get jumbo rollers, they used soda cans.
Yep, soda cans are perfectly sized to work as jumbo rollers.
You may have seen Lady Gaga setting her hair with pop cans recently, but we can’t give her credit for this trend.
It’s been there for more than 50 years when California surfer girl hairstyles were all the rage, and curly-haired girls would do anything to get their hair straight.
How do hair rollers work to straighten natural curly hair?
Roller setting is a tension-based straightening process that takes advantage of the fact that – when hair is wet, it can be molded into any shape.
Hair rollers stretch your curls out to make them looser as opposed to melting and deforming them with direct heating tools.
Rollers use a 3D straightening technique, so you don’t get that flattening effect of flat irons.
Working with your hair’s self-styling properties when it’s wet, rollers also conserve your hair’s vitality and mold your hair into straightness.
But I’ll be honest with you on one thing here:
Rollers can never replace your beloved hair straightener. They won’t give you the same sleekness and polish that flat irons can.
However, roller setting allows you to take a lot of curls out beforehand.
Think of it this way:
If it used to take you 15 minutes to straighten your hair with a flat iron, that’s 15 minutes of direct heat on your hair.
When you start using rollers, you’ll be able to reduce 10 minutes of direct heat exposure on your hair.
Because by the time you reach for your hair straightener, roller setting has already done 80% of the work for you.
Instead of 15 minutes, you’ll only need less than 5 minutes of direct heat to make your hair sleek and straight.
So you get the drift right?
Roller setting gives you an excellent headstart before you hit your hair straightener.
Here are the benefits of using rollers to straighten your hair:
1. Reduces the risks of heat damage
Stretch your curls manually beforehand to get maximum curls out. This helps you reduce the amount of direct heat you need to apply to your hair.
Less direct heat = less heat damage.
2. Better moisture retention
Hair rollers and diffused heat from a hooded dryer don’t lift hair cuticles as a flat iron does.
Therefore your hair can keep more moisture.
Imagine the difference this makes to your day-to-day styling.
3. Rollers work better with air drying
Jumbo hair rollers provide good airflow to let your hair dry naturally.
You don’t even need a blow dryer.
Just put them on and sit under a hooded dryer with gentle diffused heat and you’ll get the best of both worlds.
Air drying and straight hair without yanking on your curls.
4. Long lasting style
Multi-layered straightness as your hair dries trains your hair to keep that straight shape for longer.
You’ll hardly be using your hair straightener by week 2.
Here’s what you need to get started:
1. Babyliss Pro Nano Titanium Jumbo Rollers
|Go from curly to straight natural hair with Babyliss Jumbo rollers. It’s easy and fun!|
1. Wide Tooth Comb
How to convert curly hair to straight hair with Babyliss Jumbo rollers (step-by-step):
- Wash your hair
- Remove all excess water but keep your hair damp
- Switch the Babyliss appliance on
- Wait 10 minutes to heat up
- Comb your hair thoroughly to remove tangles
- Divide your hair into 6 or more sections
- Now apply the rollers in each section
- Then clip them in place
- Turn off the appliance
- Allow rollers to cool down in your hair (10-15 minutes)
- Remove the rollers
- And brush your hair with a paddle brush
Use Natural No-Lye Relaxers
Other than straightening, the most popular treatment to make curly hair straight is relaxers.
I’m sure you know what a hair relaxer is.
But let me tell you a quick story about its origin. (It will make you think twice before using it again)
An African American man in 1910 invented hair relaxer in an attempt to create a product for sewing machines. He created a strong chemical formula that would change the texture of wool cloth and make them smooth in appearance.
This formula contains lye and strong alkalis.
If you don’t know what alkalis and lye are used for, let me give you 2 examples:
- To remove fur from animals to make leather clothing
- To unclog drains
These are the same chemicals used in hair relaxers to stretch your curls and straighten them permanently.
Fact is: Relaxers are more dangerous than heat styling.
Because they can do even more damage to your scalp, causing hair loss and burns.
How to Straighten Curly Hair Naturally at Home Permanently With Natural No Lye Relaxers:
A natural relaxer, of course, is not as potent as a chemical one.
But you’ll still be able to get a straighter head of healthy hair after a few consistent applications.
You have to be patient.
Natural relaxers that make curly hair straight:
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Repair Heat Damaged African American Natural Curly Hair Without Cutting It?
If your hair is not breaking in pieces yet, you can keep the damaged hair and prolong its life with conditioning treatments.
Why would you hang on to heat damaged hair?
It’s more work for you. You’ll be spending too much time trying to blend them in when styling your hair.
Plus damaged hair only gets worse over time.
- Splits from the ends can run further up to break your hair
- More knots and tangles mean more breakage
- It takes longer to dry
My advice: Grow your hair out and chop the ends gradually.
You don’t need a dramatic big chop.
Why is My Curly Hair Going Straight?
Heat denaturation process is what causes curly hair to go straight. If you read the Loose curls section above, I’ve explained how proteins in your hair disintegrate with heat. Therefore, making them unable to function.
When the protein structure cannot work, your hair cannot keep its original form and pattern. Therefore curly hair breaks down into lifeless straight hair that is unable to hold its shape.
What to Use to Straighten Natural Hair Without Heat?
As I said, my favorite go-to method is the Babyliss Jumbo rollers.
But, if you’re not into hair rollers, you can find other alternative treatments that work equally as good.
- Afro keratin hair straightening botox treatments
- Hair straightening shampoos
Recommended Keratin Products to Help Straighten Natural Hair:
Shampoos That Straighten Natural Hair:
How to Make Curly Hair Straight Permanently at Home
Hair straighteners can only give you temporary straight hair that won’t last for more than a day.
Your only choice for permanent hair straightening is relaxers.
But, I do not recommend them.
Harsh chemical in relaxers can burn your scalp and affect hair growth.
If you want permanent straight hair, keep stretching it and make it looser.
Fair enough, it will take some time, but it’s worth it.
You just have to learn how to train your curly hair to become straight with:
- Jumbo rollers
- No-lye relaxers
- Straightening shampoos
- Or Afro keratin treatments
Trust me – they are the best way to straighten natural curly hair at home without the expensive salon appointments.
How Can I Keep My Naturally Curly Hair Straight After Flat Ironing?
The best way to get curly hair to stay straight is to:
- Top up your keratin straightening treatment every 3 months
- Use a straightening shampoo at least twice a week
This will keep you away from heat styling tools and prevent unnecessary heat damage.
How Can I Fix Dry Curly Hair?
How to Flat Iron Natural Hair Without Damaging It
Follow these simple rules:
- Clean your hair before straightening
- Clean your hair straightener
- Find out your hair type’s heat tolerance
- Use the right hair straightener size
- Keep your hair well moisturized
- Never flat iron dripping damp hair
- Use a heat protection spray
- Do one pass straightening
- Do comb chase
- Buy a good professional hair straightener
How to Treat Heat Damaged Natural Hair
- Deep Cleanse: with the Shea moisture shampoo
- Fortify Weak Hair: with Aphogee protein treatment
- Add Moisture: Ouidad or Deva Curl masks
- Grow: with a protective hairstyle
- Cut The Damage: with a pro curl haircut (DevaCut)
Now It’s Your Turn to Reclaim Your Curls
Now that you know how to get your natural curls back after heat damage, it’s up to you how you approach it.
You have 2 options:
- Go for the big chop
- Fake your curls until they grow out
Whichever solution you choose, remember one thing:
This process will help you embark on a journey of self-love and show you how to bring out your natural curls again.
With your genetics playing a super important role, rest assured your natural curls will make an encore appearance no matter how bad the heat damage is.
It’s all about being patient and doing the right thing.
References & Citations
-  Thibaut, Sebastien & Gaillard, O & Bouhanna, P & W Cannell, D & Bernard, Bruno. (2005).Human hair shape is programmed from the bulb. The British journal of dermatology. 152. 632-8. 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2005.06521.x.
-  Scientists at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research discovers the main genes that contribute to curly hair https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_92050.
-  Medland, S., Zhu, G., & Martin, N. (2009). Estimating the Heritability of Hair Curliness in Twins of European Ancestry. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 12(5), 514-518. doi:10.1375/twin.12.5.514