Back with a second installment in the Revive Your Hair series! The topic of discussion today centers around heat free hairstyles. Why do the majority of ladies focusing on healthy hair avoid frequent use of heat? Because hair is comprised of protein and heat denatures (breaks down) protein. Any scientist will tell you that proteins denatured (the technical term for ‘broken apart’) through high levels of heat are able to reaneal (fix or reconnect) themselves after cooling, but not all proteins have this ability and they do not reconnect without some errors. Here’s an analogy that may explain it better: let’s say you have 100 colored balls that are magnetized and matched in pairs. You put the balls in an oven and after they reach a certain temperature, you notice they are no longer “stuck” together and freely roll around. Then you turn off the oven and as the balls cool, the magnetization returns and they begin to reconnect themselves. However, you notice some colors are matched properly while others are mismatched or grouped together in clumps.
Now, that is not precisely what happens but its a good way to understand the effect heat has on our hair’s proteins. This is why before and after using heat, it is important to strengthen your hair with protein and to use a heat protectant during – to minimize the chances of permanent damage. This is particularly important for relaxed and color treated hair because their proteins are already compromised by chemicals. Better yet, try to avoid using direct heat too frequently.
Direct heat is exactly what it implies – applying high levels of heat directly to the hair with hot tools like curling and flat irons, blow dryers, curling wands, etc. Indirect heat is much safer so using a hooded hair dryer or sitting in the sunshine are better options. For those who are slaves to flat ironing every week, giving up direct heat can seem impossible! So here are a few heat free hairstyles that will keep you looking fierce and your hair healthy:
- Bantu Knot Out: This style is accomplished by parting your hair into several sections, wrapping it continuously on itself starting at the base and forming the hair into a very neat “knot”. Allow the hair to “set” then unravel and the results should be fabulous heat free curls. I love bantu knots when they turn out well….the problem is they can be very unpredictable. Sometimes you end up with wonky kinkys or a frizzy mess. Check out this previous post on How to Get a Fabulous Bantu Knot Out for some great tips.
- Braidout: This is the first low-manipulation style I ever mastered. To do a braidout, you braid your hair (loose plaits or cornrows) allow it to “set” then unbraid for a curly, defined look. It takes a bit of practice to learn what works best for your hair – how many braids to do, whether or not to roll your ends, what kind of holding products (if any) work best. Some ladies do braidouts on wet hair, some do it dry….it really all depends on the desired look and your hair.
- Twistout: Like braidouts, twistouts are great to stretch your hair, give a defined texture to both natural and relaxed hair and style your hair without heat.
- Bun: If all fails, throw your hair in a bun! Airdry or even do it while your hair is still wet after rinsing your conditioner. High, low, twisted, bow, top knot and more – the bun is far from boring these days! Here are a few tutorials shared on L4L to keep this style cute: Bow Bun, Twisted Bun, How to Make Your Bun Look Fuller.
- Finger Coils: This is the only style that is restricted to natural hair – twist the hair using one finger until in “coils” on itself. After a few days of wear, the coils can be separated for a full, defined and curly look.
- Roller/Rod Set: These are my favorite styles not only because they do not require direct heat but because they last really well without manipulating. There are tons of roller and rod set tutorials on L4L – take a look: flexirods and rollersets!