Heat: Nappy Hair’s Worse Enemy

Trichorrhexis nodosaKnowing what I now know about heat, I’d never advocate its use to someone who is working toward a napptural mindset. That said, if you’re hell bent on wearing straight hair, I’d much rather see you press it than go back to the caustic chemicals that can burn your scalp and eat your hair out, even if you follow the directions to the letter.

Trichorrhexis nodosa —This is an explosion of the cortex at a single point on the hair. It looks like a tiny white bead on the hair, and can lead to hair breakage. It is a classic sign of cosmetic and chemical over-treatment of the hair. In the example, the cortex was disrupted by an overheated hair dryer  

But if your goals are to wear your hair naturally and you want to rock styles that take full advantage of your nappy texture, you’re going to have to give up the heat. Yep…using it can come to no good end…both figuratively and litterally. I speak from experience. I kept trying to go back and forth between

This picture was taken in April 2005, and shows the after effects of pressing comb damage. Twists have no elasticity in spots because I had permanently straightened my hair not only in the front, but this damage shows up in several spots all over the top of my head. My warning to anyone about the damage you can do to your hair with ALL types of heat sources either direct or in direct simply can’t be strong enough. STAY AWAY FROM HEAT! If you don’t, at least know what you potential consequences are so that you aren’t surprised should you experience this type of damange. Just know that results like this cannot be reversed. The only thing you can do is to let it grow out and cut the damange out. I did that and it left my hair horribly uneven and thin in spots for YEARS!

thermally straightened and nappy hair and couldn’t figure out why nappy twisted ends were scraggly, wouldn’t plump up, and had no elasticity. In fact, when I wore my hair natural, it just always looked hopelessly dry and brittle. Then I had an epiphany about heat while reading some posts on Nappturality one day, and it finally hit me like a ton of brick. I’d been looking at permanently burned straight hair, but had never equated it to heat damage. It just never computed. I ran and looked in the mirror and exclaimed, “Wow…I have heat damage.” Duh! From that point on I stopped using pressing combs, flat irons, blow driers or any other means to dry or straighten my hair. Once I did that, stopped using petroleum and mineral oil-based products and switched to water/glycerine based moisturizing ones, my hair began to thrive. Although I haven’t used heat on my hair since Dec. ’05, I’m still dealing with its after affects which are detailed below.

The Dangers of Heat
Quite often, the effects of heat are not always immediately apparent. Scorched hair, burned hair, looser nap patterns and permanently straightened hair comes to mind as immediate visible damage. But even if you don’t realize visible damage, every time you apply heat, something more insidious is going on inside your hair shaft…you’re robbing your hair of precious moisture! Think about it. You’re putting oil and a tool that’s hot enough to burn your skin on your hair. The last time you pressed your hair or had it flat ironed, didn’t you hear that sizzle? What do you think is happening to your hair…especially on the inside? Just because you can’t see the damage, doesn’t mean that there isn’t damage to your entire hair shaft and especially your precisious ends.

Bubble HairBubble Hair
Processes like blow drying reduce the moisture content below its normal level and can in themselves be harmful. Hair dryers and other heated appliances first soften the keratin of the hair. If they are too hot, they can actually cause the water in the hair to boil, and tiny bubbles of steam then form inside the softened hair shaft. The hair is thereby weakened, and may break altogether.
Invariably, bubble hair is caused by some kind of heating appliance, most often curling irons. These operate somewhere between 120 and 180 °C, roughly speaking. Water boils at 100 °C. If a hot curling iron is put on to wet hair, it boils the water inside the hair. The boiling water softens the keratin of the cortex; then the steam from the boiling water expands and forms tiny bubbles inside the hair. Eventually the hair breaks off, either at or somewhere near a bubble.


Heat Damage Adds Up
Damage is also cumulativeand can’t be reversed. Press once, press twice, press three times, press occasionally…the damage is adding up. So as little or as often as you do this you were, you are in fact slowly but surely damaging your hair. Make no mistake about it, the damaging affects of even the OCCASSIONAL application of heat will eventually catch up to you in the form of dried out hair, mid-shaft breakage and split ends.

There’s never a reason to use heat
Many, many nappies have found ways around having to use heat for any reason on their hair. You can plait your hair up and let it air dry in stead of using a blow dryer. You can do heat free strawsets instead of sitting under a hooded dryer. And, you don’t have to press or blow dry your hair in order to trim it. Get some hair scissors and only use them for cutting hair. Make small to medium-sized twists all over your head. Snip your ends. If you’re not comfortable doing this, then you’ll have to go to a stylist, but everyone knows that stylists can be scissor-happy. You’ll have more control by doing it yourself.

Informed Decisions/Consequences
If you’re still not convinced, click here to go to Nappturality.com and visit the heat archives. It’s full of member stories who didn’t know that heat could damage their nappy hair or didn’t think it could happen to them. After you read this, and you do some reasearch on the topic, and you still opt to use heat, then you are making an informed decision.

Pictures of hair damage and accompanying information courtesy of P&G’s online reference manual the World of Hair.

75 Responses to “Heat: Nappy Hair’s Worse Enemy”
  1. Kimberly says:

    I got an answer to a puzzling problem. I had been natural for 6 years and everytime I would wash it I would blow dry it. I had a baby in 05 and I had what I thought was normal breakage, I stop thinking it was normal when my daughter turned almost a year. So now I know that I was destroying my hair. What I wound up doing was cutting my shoulder length fro down to 2 inches and later started the journey to dreadlocks. I don’t regret my decision to lock it up but I wish I had your information long ago. I also love this very informative site, it will help me to take care of my little daughter natural hair.

  2. nappyme says:

    Hi Kimberly,
    I’m sooooo glad Nappturology helped you some answers as to what was causing your breakage. It’s so interesting that we’re so accustomed to using various products, tools and styling methods that simply aren’t good for our hair, yet we continue to do so because we just don’t have the proper infomation.
    After wearing braids to transition out of my relaxer, I immediatedly went back to caring for my hair in familiar yet in unknowingly damaging ways. Using grease and not knowing that it was smothering my hair. Pressing, flat irons, blow drying, hooded dryers. You name it, and I was doing everything wrong.
    Fortunately, I found Nappturality.com, which put me on the path to learning how to care for my nappy hair properly. And now, I’m pretty on a ‘NO HEAT” crusade. I once heard DeeCoily say in a live interview that she had never found a reason to use heat on her hair and that “Hell would have to freeze over before she would recommend the sue of heat.” That was my personal “ah ha” moment. Wow, I thought and she has a head full of beautiful nappy hair.
    It made me finally realize how versatile nappy hair is. There are sooooo many ways to manage and style our hair without the aid of heat.. I’m just glad that my site has helped you understand that too and will in turn be able to use this knowledge to take care of your daughter’s hair.
    I’m always researching information to write new articles and adding new content. So come back soon and often and thank you for visiting Nappturology 101.

  3. stressin says:

    hey, I’ve been growing my hair since the 8th grade and naturally since my junior year i believe. I’m now a sophmore in college and i just discovered the issues with heat exploring your site and ironically after realizing that my hair has been damaged. i’m not sure which direction to go in even though i know its best to cut it off. Some areas are bone straight and the majority isn’t as kinky as it used to be, sort of soft and wavy like. It seems like at the roots its thicker and getting back to the way it was and towards the ends it just gets bone straight. (even though every time i wash it it looks like some of the straight get a little wavy) I was wondering if it was new growth or if that is just how my hair turned out with the damage. Any suggestions of how to get it cut? I would still like to be able to wear braids though. Thanx. By the way love the site.

  4. stressin says:

    o yea i 4got what about products that say they protect your from heat up to 400C including the sun like Cantu shea butter?

  5. nappyme says:

    Hi Stressin…stop stressin!
    Yep, you’ve discovered what many of nappies have discovered about heat. It damages beyond repair. If you were going to wear your hair pressed/flat ironed forever, you might not even notice the damage that’s creeping up on you…nor might you care. But if you’re wearing your hair in all it’s natural glory, then what usually happens in that the damage, which is cumulative, at some point will indeed show itself.

    So now. What to do. Hon…it really depends on you. I actually cut mine out. Ok…maybe not the smartest thing to do but I got tired of looking at my dry, straight whispy ends. Plus my twists looked horrible. Obviously it’s growing back but I now have several spots of really short hair.

    Think is, nappy hair is bulky and fortunately, hides these disparities in length very well. So most of the time I don’t even notice nor to I care.

    If you’re going be wearing braids most of the time, that MIGHT be an option for you.

    If not, the more practical thing might be for you to do is to give yourself a series of trims and/or cuts over a period of time so that you eventually get rid of the damage yet keep your hair an even length throughout.

    Those are about your only two options. Personally, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice overall length for a couple of spots of damaged hair. Nobody notices except me.

    If your damage extends to the roots, don’t worry about it for now. Just wear your braids. Remember, hair grows up to 1/2 inch per month. If you’re not as obsessed about length as I am, go ahead and cut about 1/4 to 1/2 inch out per month until the damage is gone.

    One way or the other…the damaged hair really needs to go.

    About the products…I don’t, will never put heat in my hair so, I don’t worry about a heat protector. However, if you you’ve been using these products and your still have heat damage, then I’d say the answer is no.

    Stay away from heat and you and your hair will be just fine.

    Good luck on your nappy journey, and thanks for visiting Nappturology 101.

    Hope to see you again!

  6. NotNew2Naps says:

    Hey I hear you about the heat. I have been growing my hair out over 3 years and my heat damage has just caught up to me.
    I would twist my hair leave them up for about two monts, wash my hair annd wear it in a puff then flat iron it to see how long my hair was gettign. I straigthened my hair about every three months and my hair always snapped back until recently.
    I too have bogus looking twists with some being thick and pretty and others being thin and stringy. I am trying to re-nappify my hair. I was told to put in a conditioner and sit under a heating cap so I bought one but have yet to use it. Is that also a no no? And what if I set the heat to low so it wont fry my hair?

  7. nappyme says:

    Hi NN2N! Welcome to NPP103.

    I’m always sorry to hear that someone has damaged their hair with heat. Unfortunately, once you’ve broken the chemical bonds that form your naps they cannot be repaired. Just as with a relaxer, your hair has been permanently straightened, and it’s likely to break off.

    I’m sowee… But that’s the reality of using heat that people don’t understand. The damage usually catches up to you sooner or later.


  8. virtuouswoman85 says:

    All of this advice makes perfect sense, but really, what if a natural haired sistah wanted to switch it up and wear a straight style? Maybe we admit it. I understand that you shouldn’t use heat, but it feels so limiting to say that. So now we can’t use the pressing method, when our women have been using it for ages? I don’t know, I just don’t think this applies to everyone. Essentially, heat can be very damaging, and I always prefer a funky fro over a straight hair style. HOWEVER, it’s fun and OK for a woman to try new styles every once in awhile. And if your anti heat, but would still like to experiment with straight styles, consider getting a sew in weave.

  9. nappyme says:

    ^^^ You knock yourself right out and use all the heat you want. My goal is to give everyone good reliable information about the dangers of using heat on nappy hair. That way, people are able to make an informed decision when they go tofry their hair with a pressing comb, flat iron, blow dryer and or hooded dryer. The dangers of using heat are undeniable. If any wants to switch it up for the sake of “style” then that’s the risk they take.

    Personally, I spent the majority of my life wearing straight hair, and I have absolutely no desire to ever see or wear my hair straight again.

    Good luck, whatever you decide.

  10. soulflower says:

    is sitting under a warm hooded dryer with a deep conditioner in with a plastic cap over your hair bad too?

  11. nappyme says:

    Hi Soulflower,
    I’ma tell ya what I know and then let you make the call. Your hair is subject to weathering. That’s the normal wear and tear process that can begin to break down your protective cuticle layer. Things that can cause weathering includes all the stuff that you do to your hair on a regular basis such as combing, brushing, braiding, picking, shampooing, sun, wind etc., etc., etc. Then if you also subject your hair to thermal styling you’re also subjecting your hair to more stress as well.

    No consider the fact that your hair grows on average of approximately 3-7 years before it sheds. If you’re at all trying to maintain length and grow your hair long, that’s a really LONG time for your hair shaft to stay healthy so that you get reach these longer lengths.

    Add to all of this that you want to add hair dryer heat to your regimine as well. Dryer heat CAN help excellerate the weathering process by weaking your cuticle layer and softening the cortex and the protein bonds that make help make your hair nappy. Also consider that nappy hair has raised cuticles anyway and the whole point of applying dryer heat is to open your cuticles so that the conditioner can penetrate your hair shaft and deposit moisture into your cortex where your hair is supposed to store moisture. Well if your cuticles are alread open/raised, why do you need an external source of heat?

    In most instances your body heat is sufficient enough to help condition your hair. Put on a shower cap or one of those shiney cholesteral conditioning cap and put your body heat to work. Most of your body heat escapes through your scalp anyway so you’ll be putting it to good use.

    So, honestly, no you don’t NEED to use a dryer to deep condition your hair. So now that you have some information about that, it’s your call and you can make an informed decision.

    Personally, I’ve never found a really GOOD reason to put heat either direct or indirect on my hair.

    Good luck!

  12. Depress says:

    2 weeks ago, i had my hair pressed for the first time by the dominicans. a few days after the press i washed out my hair, it looks kinky but its doesn’t completly suck itselfl to my head as it alway, and normally does. a week after that, i rewashed my hair and still, it not fully kinky. what should i do, my hair is below my shoulder .

  13. nappyme says:

    Hi Depress,

    There’s nothing that you can do. Heat can kill naps. The affects of heat damage can be equivolent to a relaxer in that the heat permanently breaks the bonds that make your hair nappy. You’ve shampooed twice and your hair hasn’t fully recovered. If you normally wear your hair nappy AND that’s the way you want to go back to wearing your hair, you’ll have to resign yourself to cutting out the heat damage. If not all at once, do it gradually.

    I’m sorry this happened to ya, but if read my article you know that I too have been there done that and have learned my lesson the hard way. As a result, I’ll never apply heat to my hair in anyway, shape or form again.

    My naps are too precious. Hope you’ll eventually feel the same way about yours too.

    Good luck sis.

  14. neph says:

    My hair has been pressed every month since i was four. Now when I wash my hair is half straight and half curly. In order for it to be even I have to blow dry it and add spritz to the tip of my hair. Will that still cause more damage to my hair?

  15. nappyme says:

    Hi Neph,

    To answer your question, yes and it sounds like you have severe heat damage to me. Why not gradually cut the damage out and wear your hair totally nappy?

  16. ummzakiyah says:

    Hi, I have a question. I have 2 daughters ages 4 & 6. I usually wash their hair every two weeks, condition it, blow dry it and then braid it or twist it. During the summer months, I don’t blow dry it after I wash. However, during the fall and winter when it gets cold I do, because I don’t want them walking around the house with a wet head. What can I do to help their hair dry faster with minimal heat? Any suggestions or tips from you all would be helpful.

  17. nappyme says:

    Hi ummzakiyah,
    Welcome to NPP101!

    You could invest in a good microfiber towel. They’re extremely absorbent and will help your daughters’ hair dry in no time!

  18. CremeNappy says:


    I love my hair, but sometimes it’s so hard to manage. I think black people were the result of some mad scientific experiment that some scientist was doing in order to see if there were other variation sof hair outside of straight. My hair has this very bad characteristic where it sticks together in clumps when I wash it which makes it almost impossible to comb through. I tell myself there has to be another way to leave this more “combable”. but then all of the sudden, the bold possibitlity of ” no what is there is n’t ” is staring back at me, with this very smirky smile. If anyone can offer any help for making my hair a little less nappier, and kinkier, naturally , that would be great!

  19. nappyme says:

    Hi CremeNappy,
    Well, I’m sorry you feel that way about your hair. I certainly don’t think our hair was a mistake. God gave it to us and therefore, it was meant to be and God didn’t make no junk!

    Yes nappy hair gets tangled easily but there are many ways to manage this so that it’s not so frustrating. During the shampoo/conditioning process you can band your hair to cut down on tangles. You can use wide tooth combs to detangle and get rid of shed hair. You can detangle your hair and then put it in large twists and only take down the section you’re working with when you’re styling your hair. If you’re wearing puffs, you can finger detangle your hair at night and put it into large twists and tie it up at night and then unleash it in all it’s glory in the morning.

    Get my drift. You just have to figure out something that works for you.

    Join some hair forums and ask some questions about how to effectively detangle your hair. There’s tons of info out there that can help you manage your nappy hair.

    You just have to be proactive and go out there and find it. My hair community cNappymeNow.com is geared towards women with coarse, undefined kinky nappy hair and there is an entire forum devoted to Detangling issues. Feel free to join to take a look at that forum and get some tips.

    Anyhoo, hope some of this helps. Good luck with your journey.

  20. Mikou says:

    I just wanted to thank you for this article. Reading about your epiphany was the trigger for my own epiphany. The first time I went natural (1997 to 2000) I used heat sporadically – a few times per year. I had these ends that wouldn’t cooperate with twists and twist-outs. Ithought it was just permed hair that I had neglected to cut out, that’s how straight it was.

    I fell off the natural wagon for a few months, but stopped perming 10/2000. Unfortunately, because I was just starting my professional career and hadn’t learned how to optimally style and care for my hair, I relied on braid extensions and heat straightening. I stopped the extensions due to traction alopecia, but it took me several years to stop the straightening. I knew enough to avoid out and out burning my hair, but I didn’t recognize the gradual damage. I told myself that my hair was “trained”. Meanwhile, it was so fried that it was thinning, scraggly and the short hairs created a frizzy halo whenever I tried to smooth it down.

    Thank goodness I came across your article. It hit me: heat was the root of my problems. My ends looked just like yours did in the picture and it had happened before. This time was worse because I was using heat so often (high heat, too).

    I *had* to find a way to do without it. I packed away the flat irons and hand blow dryer. I even stopped “indirect” heat (bonnet dryer) that I was using for deep conditioning.

    Since then, it’s been like night and day. My hair has body and sheen. It feels soft. It’s not breaking like it used to. My bathroom used to look like a hair war zone (Hair on the floors! In the sink! On the walls!) No more. In just a few months, my hair has not only grown, but I’ve been able to retain most of that growth.

    I tell anyone who asks that as bad as relaxers were for my hair, heat (even infrequent heat) was much, much worse. Thanks for showing me the light!

  21. nappyme says:

    Yes girl, heat is the debil no doubt about it. If you’re going to wear you hair natural, most folks cannot have it both ways because heat DOES AND WILL slow damage your napps or if you’re one of the really unlucky ones, you’ll dog it so bad with heat that you can literally burn it straight or burn a big ole plug out and watch your hair fall to the floor.

    I’d like to catch more people and educate them before they have to learn about heat the hard way. But even then, sometimes the hand has to slap folks before they discover that it’s real.

    But at least you get it now and if you go back to using heat, it’s now an informed decision so hopefully, you’ll put the hot tools of torture down and never let them touch your precious naps again.

    You take care and God bless,

  22. Latrese says:

    I have blowdried my hair maybe 3 to 4 times. I have been natural 3 years and I just started blowdrying my hair so I can braid it because when I wash my hair and dry it my hair is tightly coiled so blowdrying helps me loosen the hair. But after reading the heat archives I am going to stop blowdrying my hair but I don’t know how to braid wet hair please give me some advice on how to braid my hair wet .

  23. nappyme says:

    Latrese welcome to NPP101!

    Glad to hear you’re gonna lay down your blow drier. Smart move. However, I don’t think that I would attempt to style my hair while it’s wet and shrunken. I always let my hair air dry in some big fat twists before I style (I assume you’re talking about after you shampoo). You could also stretch your hair by putting it in some plaits and let them dry like that. Then your hair should be stretched enough to allow you to style with ease.

    Good luck sis and I hope that helps!

  24. S Dean says:

    I too, an so glad to read that hair dryer’s are the “debil” to quote you. As I have been natural for two year’s. And it was a journey frustrating at times but ok now. I have been reading and parading nappy sites like crazy. And saturday while “following” someone’s hair receiped. I decided in this winter month to put cream/on my twists. And sit under the “dryer” for about 20 minutes on med/heat and 20 on cool. My question…now that your info has sunk in . Will my hair be damaged from this? Prior to my coils and twist are gorgeously fat and coiled. I hope my damage was to much. As before the natural decisions I had to cut off two inches. How will I determine this recent damage? “running to do the hot oil treatment” as I type this.


    I have a question, and I may already have the answer, but I just want to confirm it. I got my hair pressed twice before the last time and they were both months from the other. Neither one stopped my hair from curling back after I washed it, probably because their ceramic irons were that hot. So I go to someone about a month ago and she used those castiron irons that you stick in the little metal oven to press my hair. I went to the gym the next day and sweated it out of course, so I pressed it again (like an idiot) with my little cheap one, not really that the thing goes up to 400 degrees and I had it on the highest setting (which I usually don’t do). Anyway, now there’s a small section of hair in the front that won’t curl back for anything. I did a protein treatment last week, and a hot oil treatment this week. It’s still straight. My guess is that it’s not going to curl back, so should I just keep deep conditioning it every week and gradually trimming every, I guess, 6-8 weeks until it gets cut out? I’m not trying to cut my hair off again. I’ve been natural for a year and a half, I’m not going bald again. lol If there are any products or methods I can try to make sure I protect and perhaps rebuild these unruly strands, please let me know. Jessica.

    P.S: This site is great! Very informative. 😀

  26. nappyme says:

    Hi Jessica,
    Welcome to NPP101!
    Yeah, if you’ve read anything on this page then you already know the answer to your question. Another lesson learned the hard way. How you deal with the damage now is up to you. Like you I wasn’t going to sacrifice a head full of length for a few isolated spots of nappy hair. But it did and still does create some styling issues sometimes since I’ve got some shorter spots where I cut the damage out. Several years later, I still have to style around where the thickness doesn’t go all the way to the ends.

    Well, for sure, from here on out you’re yet another person with a first-hand account of the potential evils of heat on nappy hair. If you continue to use it, it’s now an informed decision.

    Good luck!

  27. Neuli Nappy says:

    I read with great interest your information on heat. I began going natural in October. I am currently in transition.
    I would like to give some advice on heat.

  28. nappyme says:

    Hi Neuli Nappy,
    Welcome to NPP101. Glad to hear you’re going natural but I’m going to stop you dead in your tracks on giving advice about using heat in my blog. Uh-uhn…ain’t gonna happen. I don’t advocate heat in anyway, shape or form. If you wanna give advice about using heat you’ll have to find some other forum to do it on. I stand by what I say 100% and will NOT repeat myself. If you or anyone else want to use heat, knock yourself out, but if you’ve read anything on my blog about heat then you know that using it causes damage to your hair. Do so after reading all of this and then you make an informed decision and then you also live with the potential consequences. That’s life.

    Again, good luck on your new natural journey. You take care.

  29. yasu419 says:


    There is nothing you can do once you scorch your hair. Just like if you have a relaxer, all that hair is dead to the ends. Nothing will cause curl to revert lest you cut off the dead ends. You are doing the best thing by clipping a little off at a time. If it is really noticeable, you may want to utilize all the texture you have and styles in smaller sections that camoflauge two textures

  30. Nappy-N-Happy? says:

    Hi…After nearly 2.5 years of become natural (I transitioned from a relaxer to natural viw kinky twists), I finally decided to wear my hair out (it’s been about a month). I’ve “invested” in a CHI, all ceramic flat iron which is said not to damage your hair like traditional tools of heating. Apparently it uses a different heating system that ‘seals the cuticles and reduces the risk of heat damage. Well, I’ve flat-ironed my hair a few times to achieve both straight and curly styles that many individuals get with perms/relaxers. So far, i haven’t had the heat damage problem…But reading this article makes me nervous. I want to maintain beautiful Nappy hair and still enjoy the look of a relaxer without the extensive damage and dullness. Moreover, I understand heat is not necessarily best for your hair, but is using a real ceramic iron TORTURING your hair? Honestly….

  31. nappyme says:

    Since you’ve read the article, (and hopefully the questions and answers that follow) you know where I stand on using heat. Feel free to use it and at this point you’re making an informed decision about the dangers that you’re subjecting your tresses to.

    Good luck!

  32. nappyme says:

    At this point, I’m closing this article to all comments. I’ll never advocate using heat and if you’ve read this article and the comments that follow my stance has remained steadfast and unwaivering. Using heat does damage your hair…PERIOD. If you do so after reading everything on this page then you are now making an informed decision.

    So for those of you who still want to and do good luck with maintaining your natural tresses.

    Take care and God bless,

  33. D.Amoro says:

    I have been visiting your website for months and everytime I visit I become more convinced and committed in taking care of my natural cnap hair. I, too, learned the hard way of applying heat to my natural hair, what a disaster! Now, I do not apply any heat to my hair. I can see a big difference.
    Just want to thank you for this valuable information. Keep up the great work.

  34. NaNa says:

    I straighten my hair everyday and i dont want to stop because if i dont i look horrible but i dont want to damage it. what should i do to keep my hair straight and healthy?

  35. nappyme says:

    NaNa… I’m shaking my head at your question. You came to my site that celebrates and gives all kinds of information about learning to love, take care of and style nappy hair and you want ME to give you information about keeping your hair straight and healthy?


  36. She-She says:


    I’ve been natural for a little over a year. I’m glad I came across this website because I was blow drying my hair about once every 2 weeks or once a month. Pretty much any time I wanted to wear a large afro. My hair is extremely tight and kinky. Even if I comb it out while it’s wet it shrinks down to 2-3 inches. (blow dried it’s 6-8 inches). Any advice on how I can straighten/lengthen my hair without using heat?


  37. nappyme says:

    ^^Hi sis. Glad you wanna get away from the heat! Try braiding or twisting your hair at night and that will stretch it quite a bit so that you have a bigger fuller for in the morning.

    Good luck and be happy nappy!

  38. Onyi says:

    I am so glad I read your article! It was really an eye opener. I had always told myself that I would subject myself to heat. With getting perms every 2 months I figured heat was not something my hair really needed. But after watching my hair gradually wither to stringy and lifelessness I decided that my natural hair has to be better than this so I opted to go natural but transitioning from straight to really really really curly was kind of overwhelming so I figured a little heat would help. I flat iron my curly roots once a week, but I’ve been noticing lately that I have more split ends (also splits in the shaft of the hair not just the ends) than I have ever had in the past. Knowing what I know now I am definitely going to stop flat ironing my hair. I have been doing this for 4 months now, and when I wash hair it curls up like it always has in the past with no straight areas. Do you think that the damage isn’t too extensive that I can still have beautiful natural hair?

  39. nappyme says:

    Hi Onyi!
    Just remember that heat that hot put directly on your hair can’t help but increase the weathering away of the strand. So although it seems to be bouncing back ok…you could have some long term damage that just isn’t showing up yet. That did happen to me and four inches of my hair broke of about an inch in from my hair line because I was wearing my hair pulled back. I’d press my hair, pull it back into a ponytail and nap it up to create a puff. I would tie it down at night but in then in the morning for weeks on end I would smooth my edges and top down with a flat iron. About 18 months later, although my hair LOOKED healthy, it finally broke off horribly. So only time will tell with your own hair. Give it lots of TLC and do some regular protein treatments to strengthen it.

    In the long run you may not experience any breakage, do your best to stave it off, but don’t be surprised if you do.

    Good luck Onyi, glad you found NPP101 informational and useful to you as you embark on your nappy journey!

  40. Kina says:

    Well…I have extensive heat damage; meaning my hair is relatively straight to be “natural”. I haven’t had a relaxer since July of 2003. My hair isn’t breaking off, and it’s still very thick, but it looks like it’s relaxed after washing it. Here’s the question; I don’t think I have it in me to cut off all of my hair again. My hair falls beneath my shoulders so I am looking at about 2 years of growth…are braids damaging? If I have it professionally done and kept it braid (and clean and maintained) for 6 months (enough time for me to have some growth), would this damage my curl pattern as well? 5 year sans relaxer..all down the drain…

  41. nappyme says:

    Hi Kina,
    Sorry you’re experiencing hair woes. I think braids are an excellent way to gain some new growth. I actually wore braids for nearly three years non stop. Make sure you keep your braided hair moisturized and conditioned and get your hairline touched up more frequently than the rest of your braids. You don’t want the weight of the braids as they grow out from your vulnerable hairline to snap off an cause more breakage. If you do this properly, you’ll have longer, stronger new growth in no time and you can begin to gradually cut the heat damage out. It’ll take some time and patience, but you’ll eventually end up with a head full of healty hair.

    You’re not alone having to cut out heat damaged hair. Check out AuNappturale’s album. Here’s the link: http://public.fotki.com/aunappturale/hair_diary/2006/november/ She BCd down to about four inches or so due to heat damage. Couple years later, she’s got a new head full of healthy, nappy hair.

    So don’t dispare…it happens to many of us.

    Good luck and take care!

  42. Dom says:

    I love having my hair natural, and I have seen amny women wih beautyfull natural African hair. I dont think the “THe World Of Hair” site refrenced should be use. It dosent not show the true beauty of having tight curly hair

  43. Oneya says:

    On April 07th, 2008 I started a NO Heat NO Sweets challenge for my self that will last until July 20th..so basically it has been 2 months without me using heat on my hair. This is the first time in seven years that I have not used heat. I am pretty much used to dealing with my natural hair but now I am actually wearing it in natural hair styles. I also do cowashes everyday which is great and I wash my hair with shampoo and deep condition every week. I don’t have to worry about messing up my hair style, so my hair is getting healthier. I wear a braid out pinned. That flat iron was causing my hair to thin out..Thanks for this article.it was scary enough to move me in right direction.

  44. lol says:

    I’ve done everything to my hair shaved it locks, perms, straighteners, twists plaits extensions………ENOUGH…..back to natural is where i am at…. but now that I had a child 20 months ago my hair is finally growing back the after breaking off at the front sides and the back. Its very dry and very thick, but hmmmm bit of a mess and can’t figure out what to do with it. I don’t have a lot of time to do my hair so something that will last for months and remain tidy would be ideal…. Any web sites you can recommend for me??? I find a lot of styles a little girly and being in my early 40’s don’t wanna look like mutton dressed as lamb….

  45. nappyme says:

    Hi LOL welcome to NPP101!

    When I first went natural and couldn’t be bothered with my hair, I wore microbraids. I loved the convenience they afforded me for months at a time. If you go that route, make sure that you get your edges redone often so that the weight of the braids growing away from your scalp doesn’t break your hair.

    As far as recommended sites, try Nappturality.com and check out the hair forum. You could also join and post your question there to see what kind of responses you can get. You’re not alone, many new mothers or people with very busy schedules face that dilemma of not having time to do or take care of their hair so I think you’d likely get some good advice.

    Good luck and take care,

  46. Nappily Ever After says:

    I have noticed that the end of my hair shaft is beginning to form an opening but it is not a split end? Any suggestions for the cause

  47. nappyme says:

    Nappily, I’ve never heard of this and I haven’t a clue as you’ve not told me anything about your routine. I’d say just pay close attention to your ends and if necessary give yourself a trim and stop any kind of hair care maintenance or styling that could be causing your ends to “open up.”

    Good luck!

  48. Simone Scarlett says:

    My natural nappy hair used to be thick, and looked real nice when it is roped twisted. I have been noticing that it is becoming thiner and thiner and, and now its almost stringy. My hair dresser uses a blow dryer to dry my hair everytime she washes it and i have been wondering if this is causing my hair to become thinner. The info on your website has confirm this, but how do a comb my hair without it been blow-dryed?

  49. nappyme says:

    Hi Simone,
    I topped using a blow dryer on my hair three years ago. When I wash my hair, I detangle first, then I put it in big fat twists and then i wash my hair. That keeps it stretched and relatively tangle free. Then I let it air dry and then I moisturize my hair in sections and then style. The only time I really have to comb my hair is when I detangle prior to washing. And lately, I have been using my fingers to detangle and not even using a comb. About the only time I use a comb now is the end of a rattail comb for parting. That’s it.

    Check out this thread http://s3.excoboard.com/exco/thread.php?forumid=8080&threadid=185261 on cNappymeNow about detangling with your fingers. Not sure if non-members can access this forum, so if you’re not a member feel free to join cause I think you’ll find some interesting info on this topic that might help you.

  50. SCLove1 says:

    I went natural in January of this year and did the BC in May. My hair has grown out a bit and since I cut my hair off in the warmer months I was able to wash it and go outside letting it air dry, so I had no need for my hooded dryer. Now, fall is upon us and I don’t want to have to hole up in the house to let my hair air dry because I cannot go outside in the cold with a wet head. Any suggestions on drying my hair faster? It’s only a couple of inches long but it has gotten a lot thicker.

  51. nappyme says:

    Hi SCLove1,
    How often do you wash your hair? I always question why folks wash their hair sooooo much unless they work out and then it’s understandable that someone would want to do so, so often.

    If this is the case, then get yourself a microfiber towel, a good one, not one of those cheapie ones that you find at the drug store. They’re designed to suck moisture out of your hair really quickly so that your hair is nearly dry.

    If that won’t cut it, try washing at night, putting it in twists and taking them out in the morning, fluff and go.

    If you’re in the twa stage and it’s not long enough for twists, wash your hair at night and let it air dry. Finger fluff as best you can in the morning before work and once you get there go to the restroom and spritz your hair with some moisturizer, fluff and go.

    Hope this helps.

    Take care,

  52. SCLove1 says:

    Thanks! I do work out and wash my hair about twice a week.

  53. nappyme says:

    ^^^You’re welcome. Hope you find a routine that works!

  54. Belita says:

    I flat ironed my hair today before reading this blog for the first time, and my hair was smoking so bad, and I didn’t like it straight so I sprayed water in it, and my hair has this burn smell to it, and it feels a bit different when I touch it, I am kinda nervous, right now I am putting it in two stands, my hair reverted back ok I think, but I don’t think I will be flat ironing it again for quite some time, I just wanted to check the length..

  55. Hello Nappyme,

    I’m glad I found your site before I deep condition under the dryer. Question, would you recommend a streaming treatment? That is the shop with a stream machine and also at home treament, when you heat the turbie and place it on top of a plastic cap. Thanks for your advice.

    • nappyme says:

      Hi Belovedhairgirl,
      I’m sorry, I’m not at all familiar with a stream machine or its treatment so I can’t recommend its use. Do you mean STEAM? If so, that’s something else that I’m unfamiliar with as well.

  56. Brandi Love says:

    In regards to the too much heat issue, When I used to get my hair pressed I didn’t have any breakage but I hate the way my scalp sizzled when the pressing comb got near it! I am 29 now and after having my 2 kids my hair will not take a relaxer anymore! Why do think this has happened? Probably a hormonal change. When I did wear my hair natural it was still just as expensive as getting a relaxer. I either get it braided $100-$300, or sew-in what I am wearing now for $100.

    • nappyme says:

      Hi Brandi,
      I’ve been natural sans braid extensions for over three years now and it costs me nothing but my time and a periodic purchase of a tube of moisturizer. Bottom line: You need to learn how to do your own hair. Almost anyone who is natural, and does it successfully, takes care of and style their own hair. Learning to care for and style your own hair takes time and patience. Sooo if you really want to wear your hair sans the bondage of extension hair and sewin “whatever” you need to be proactive and join some hair boards and see what and how women are accomplishing this. That’s what I did nearly three years ago cause I was tired of wearing fake hair over my own. I learned and so can you.

      You can start right here on my site. Also check out motowngirl.com and nappturality.com and you’ll be good to go.

      Good luck!

  57. Naneuleta says:

    If heat is so bad for the hair, what would you reccommend for hair dying? My locs are in the middle of my back and if I don’t blow dry it, it takes three or four days air drying and then will have a sour stench to it. Help please. I don’t want to damage my locks any longer.

  58. sosad says:

    OK. I am no longer in denial. This is my second journey with natural hair (my first ended when I resorted back to the creamy crack after 4 years). Now three years into my new natural I have ruined it again 😦 I kept hoping that after a few more cycles without flat ironing it would miraculously spring back to life but after reading your site I now know what must be done. my twists look horrible, an afro puff is out of the question, and I hate that my wild and crazy look is now achieved without effort. Unfortunatrly I must straighten one more time because of an important event but I swear that I am throwing away my flat iron, blow dryer, curling iron, hot comb, and hood dryer on Monday!

    • nappyme says:

      Sosad, when I first decided to stop using heat on my hair, it was really, really hard not to. I was used to pressing my hair for special occasions and so it turns out that I was not as comfortable with my natural texture as I thought. In addition, I wanted to see my length. But once I made up my mind, and despite the fact that the pressing comb was calling my name BIG TIME I managed to resist. Eventually I got over it. But it took awhile. So don’t give up!

      Good luck,

  59. Renee says:

    Can you do a wet set on kinky curly hair?

  60. Inky says:

    I wish I had read this article before I pressed my hair last weekend!!!!!!!!!! I tried rinsing out the press, but the right side is completely back to its natural state while the left side has a LOT of stringy straight hair straight from the roots (so I can’t cut it off!)
    What can I do? I’m thinking of cutting my hair back to 1 inch & starting over but I don’t know if that will help it at all. I’m also thinking of going with braids. Is this stringy hair PERMANENT? Is there NO WAY for me to get it to be natural again?

    • nappyme says:

      Hi Inky,
      Sorry this happened. Yeah, heat can be the devil. I had a very similar situation. It was really wide spread but enough to make several of my twists look horrible. If I recall correctly, I gradually cut the bad spots out rather than sacrifice and entire head full of otherwise healthy hair.

      If the damage is not wide spread, maybae you could do the same thing and also attempt to style around it until you can get it all cut out. If not… you’ll need to chop it all off.

      Sowee 😦

      Take care,

  61. kandis says:

    Hi! Love the site very informative and learned a lot! Even scared me! Lol.

    But question? I grew out my relaxer last year around this time and I keep it straight blowdry than flatiron and press the edges.

    Yes, I know heat is BAD period. If I keep doing this will my hair breakoff? Or just depends on the persons hair and texture? One of my friends grew hers out and got all her length back down to her back and no breakage. Ofcourse she probably has heat damage.

    But if you keep your hair straight and don’t have breakage should I been fine?

    The reason I grew out relaxer was to get my length and fullness back.

    But have you heard of MissJessies? They have natural hair products that enhance and REALLY moisturize the hair and soften curl patern.

    Then they have something called a Silkener which is a chemicl :/ but enhances your natural curl pattern…the results are amazing!…but your hair still has its naturl look.

    Im trying to decide because I don’t want a per, again because of thinness and I like my hair natural even when I straighten it, but if I get a silkener I can wear it curly and kee the heat out..BUT! Its a chemical! And don’t these altering chemicals damage the hair or just if its over processed.

    If I get a silkener I would only get it every 4 months which its a lil bette than getting a chemical on it every month or 2.

    What should I do!!! Lol?

  62. vonzell says:

    i was going to do a blow out this weekend. O_O
    never mind.

  63. Jazmin says:

    Hey im jaz and im 16 and my hair is extremely nappy, baby soft, uneven, and short. i kno when i was 8 i got my first perm and my hair came down to da middle of my back. when my mom realized how much it broke off from all the chemicals in the perm i started growing natural. after that process my mom was tired of braiding or twisting my hair so she would press it with a hot comb and style it. It was getting shorter and shorter by the months.
    anyways let me get to the point. the middle of my hair is extremely thick but its the shortest part of my hair because my mom pressed my hair 1 time and she literally burned about 5 inches of my hair off. Now it seem like it wont grow back. It jus continues to get thick. i dont understand why!!!

    then theres my edges. they wont grow at all. i braid my own hair now and i try to b as careful as possible with my edges but when they started falling out i stopped braiding them. Unfortunately when i was getting my hair done by a friend 1 day in platts she gripped my edges and used alot of weave in that little area. when i told her to take it out all my hair came out with it. ive had this little bald spot for a year now and it wont grow back. ive used dr micrale and hair thickeners to help hide the bald area but nothing works. Help!!!!

  64. mia says:

    I’ve been wearing my hair natural for about 3-4yrs now, and i use to press my hair, but stopped. I’ve been wearing braids with my natural hair for those 3-4 yrs, now i wanted to press my hair out for the summer, but go back to natural braids after that. But problem is, i don’t know about hair products that could be used as heat protectants. I’m not sure if there are any that work. Also, if i press my hair for that short period of time, will i be able to restore it, without cutting it? before i went to braids, i cut off all my hair, my hair is now shoulder length with braids. I just want to try something different, I want to try twist as well, but i’m not sure about it. I was told that if you do twist(or it could be dreads) that in order to get them out, i have to cut off all my hair again, and i don’t want to do that.

  65. Tanya says:

    For about an year I’ve been wear my natural hair in braid so I decied to press my hair out for almost two week. I notice now that some of my hair is straight and some of it is nappy what should I do? Should I cut it of and start all over are should I just wear braid and then cut of the srtaight ends?

    • nappyme says:

      Hi Tanya,

      Depends on how extensive the damage is, and what you’re willing to live with. I had some fairly obvious bone straight hair in the front, but I didn’t want to sacrifice an entire head of healthy hair because of one area. My hair was long enough that most of the time I could work around the damage hair and have it not be so noticeable. But I did eventually just cut the damaged hair off. That still created some styling problems for quite awhile because my hair was shorter and thinner in that area.

      If it’s extensive, then yeah, you may want to go ahead and do another big chop and just start over. But you’ll have to decide this for yourself.

      Good luck!

  66. Jane Bagley says:

    Very informative site. I have been wearing my hair natural for about 10 years, and I will never every get a perm again.

  67. Janine Johnson says:

    what happend to my post??
    you deleted it huh? woooow!!
    nice one! Napp-headed *****!

    • nappyme says:

      Bet you didn’t think I’d post this did you. But I decided to do so to take this opportunity to say the obvious: This is my blog and my personal space and I reserve the right to post or not post whatever comments I want. That’s the way it works…ya know?

      That said, I don’t even remember what your post/or comment was even about. But since it didn’t make it through, it most likely was contrary in some way, shape or form to the purpose of my site. Also, I tend not to post or respond to questions that have become redundant to the 10th power.

      So now that I’ve spent way more time than I should have explaining myself to you when I didn’t really have to, I’ma also tell you that you need to get your own dang blog if you want freedom to post whatever the hell you want without being sensored.

      They’re free, so have at it and grow up for heaven’s sake!

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