HEAT DAMAGE – Don’t let it happen to you!

Nenjae Vanessa with Flat Ironed Hair (20 months natural)

Hey Naturalistas!

I’m sharing this video with you all because its a great testimony of how even with the knowledge of heat damage and understanding of how to use caution, you can still end up with heat damage. She shows you where her heat damage is in her hair.

This video was submitted by my cousin Nenjae Vanessa. If you read my Hair Journey then you know she and I big chopped together, she chopped me and I chopped her.

She and I have had very very different natural hair journeys, primarily because she blow dries and flat irons her hair ALL the time. She refrains from curly styles because of how tangled her hair is, she also doesn’t have much time to commit to her hair in it’s curly state, so she went natural mainly to get away from the harsh chemicals in relaxers.
While I am not a proponent of frequent heat styling, I also don’t knock anyone who wants to heat style often, so long as they do it with caution and great care.
Nenjae Vanessa (20 months natural)
Some important points she makes:
She always thought “that having heat damage would mean your hair didn’t have body and it looked fried, but she realized this is NOT the only form of heat damage. Once you lose your natural curl pattern, you have heat damage.”
Lessons learned:
Flat Ironing your hair with caution isn’t necessarily going to cause heat damage, but flat ironing your hair everyday, sometimes even multiple times a day WILL.
Let’s chat in the comments.
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About Jenell B Stewart

Jenell Stewart MS, the founder and editor in chief of the award winning website KinkyCurlyCoilyMe.com dedicates most of her free time educating and uplifting women with natural hair by way of her extremely popular website and YouTube channel. Jenell has been featured in Essence Magazine, Black Enterprise.com, and starred on the Dr.Oz television show as a Beauty Expert. In 2012 she was named one of Essences top Instagramers and that same year KinkyCurlyCoilyMe won an award for “Favorite Website” of the Natural Hair Community.
  • nappynhappy

    i had been (and still am :D) natural for about 2 years. i would flat iron my hair every once in a while with what i considered a "safe heat", but that came to a complete stop one day after i'd washed my hair only to find that the curl pattern on just about my whole head was gone. i immediately washed my hair again with neutralizing shampoo- thinking it would make a difference- and nada! since then, i haven't put anymore heat on my hair. 

  • JenellyBean

    Wow!!!! Really?
    How did you feel??

  • nappynhappy

    i was devastated! at that time my hair was too short for a pony and i didn't want to put heat on it to wear it straight so i rocked twist outs until my hair grew back. my fiance is a barber and i was hoping that he'd have some type of miracle answer to get my curls back, but that didn't happen. 

  • Amber Wright

    My ends are bone straight from having my hair pressed for so many years (I don't have a relaxer). I'm slowly growing the straight ends out, using twist outs and bunning as my go-to styles. I do plan on wearing it straight every now and again, but it will be more as a "style option" as opposed to my usual, every day look. I'm loving the versatility of my curls!

    • hotmessnatural

      i have the same story. I’ve gotten my hair pressed all my life and i have like 3-4 different textures. I don’t even know how to wear my hair curly or what to use. i feel helpless..

  • dreaminofme18

    I am the poster story for heat damage. When I styled my hair with flat irons and curler everyday I had a damaged short bob that never grew back my neck. For the past 2 years I did half wigs and protective styling with NO heat and now my hair is BSL. I'm still relaxed b/c I was natural my entire life until college and not interested in going back but to be BSL and relaxed is amazing for me.

  • Tinuke Wilson

    hmm….this is why I don't use heat at all!

  • Lalita Brown

    My first professional flat iron I recieved heat damage. I did a lot to try and get my curls to come back. They are not gone, but much looser and styles like my go to puff are not cuttin g it. I am now in some braids hoping the break might help, but lesson learned for sure. I had no problems when I did it myself but I wnt there and shouldve known it was a problem when my hair was straight for about 2 months. I like that it loosens my twist outs but they dont last longer than a day!!!! :( Heat Damage is no joke!!!!

  • minasek


  • Michelle

    I got heat damage from flat ironing and I only did it once a week – and not even bone straight.  I can related. I stopped using heat altogether this past April

  • Crystal

    Wow, in reading the comments, I see that heat damage is definitely a problem.  What have y'all done to protect your hair from heat damage?
    You say that your cousin was flat ironing with "caution," but I'm curious as to what exactly that means? Did she use a thermal protector?  Perhaps her hair may need more caution going forward…heat is no joke!

  • Brendita

    Based on some of the scientific literature that I've read, it's possible to damage your hair with heat before it starts to show visible signs. The heat causes the Keratin in your hair to begin to loose its "bonds" but this happens at such a small scale, the damage isn't immediately noticed.

  • Katoasha

    Before I started watching your you tube videos and many other naturalistas do their hair and teach, I learned to interact with my own hair, I have been natural for about 2 years but you would never be able to tell from the lack of care and love that I never knew my hair need. I have learned a lot in the past few months and I can tell the difference, but before I was actually blow drying my hair and taking an electric straightening comb to it very often. In November of 2011 I noticed that my hair in the back right side wasn't actually a little straighter than any other area of my head, that was the turning point for me because I was taking care of my hair by just not using chemicals but at the same time, I was hurting my self by just not knowing the proper way to care for her… My question now is, Can heat damage ever be reversed or does it need to be chopped off in order to continue healthy hair growth?

  • Eclypse66

    I have been transitioning for almost year after being relaxed for 10 years. When I was natural, I used to wear it straight or I would blow dry it and put rollers in it. I did not suffer from heat damage but then I never straightened my hair every day and I did not attempt to wear super straight hair. My It would be “sleek” for about a day and then I wore curlier styles after that. As I go through this transition, I know that I will probably wear straighter styles in the cooler months and curlier styles in the summer months. I have not worn twist outs before but I think those are styles that I could tolerate in the warmer months once my hair grows out. I have major shrinkage so I do like styles that show more of my length.

  • Courage

    The flat iron can also damage your scalp. Ouch.