There’s no denying that heat-styling your hair is the most fun way to change up your look. Flat irons are some of the best options to go for if we want to straighten our hair. In the unfortunate event that heat damage happens, do you know how to fix burnt hair from flat iron?
The thing is, if there are mistakes that are made during the flat ironing process, you may end up suffering from heat damage.
This begs the question: Is using hot tools on your precious hair always worth it? Compromising your hair with heat is counterproductive to your end goal of making it look snatched and glamorous.
If you abuse your hot tools and use them every single day, you could end up with damaged hair. Maybe your hair is already begging for reparation right now and you haven’t even noticed.
I shared my heat damage story on this post. I suffered hair breakage as a result of heat damage after blowing drying my mane frequently without taking the necessary precautions.
Just as is the case with blow-drying, regular flat iron use can do a number on your hair.
Not only are you putting your hair at the risk of heat damage, but you also run the risk of damaging your scalp with repeated exposure to high temperatures.
Why Does High Heat Damage Hair?
When your hair comes into contact with super high temperatures, your cuticles will open up and be lifted from the hair fibers.
This leaves gaps and “pores” in your hair strands, making it harder for it to retain moisture.
Heat also breaks down the proteins that make up your hair structure, leaving it weaker.
Heat damage isn’t severe right away.
But the more you ignore the damage, the worse it will get.
Soon, the only option you’ll have left is to chop your hair off to start anew. And nobody wants that!
Signs Of Heat-Damaged Hair
There are many signs you can look out for to check if your hair is already severely damaged from your daily heat-styling.
As soon as you notice them, drop that flat iron and try your best to repair your hair.
Check out these tell-tale signs that your hair is already damaged by heat-styling.
If you assess the situation early, you could reverse it and restore its health.
Your hair feels dry and rough to the touch
If you drink lots of water and use a leave-in daily but still have super dehydrated hair, it could be a sign of heat damage.
High heat levels can create cracks in your hair cuticles, releasing the moisture your hair cortex tries to hold.
This leaves your locks extremely dry.
And because there’s no hydration in your locks, they end up looking dull and devoid of any shine since there’s no moisture there to give it that luster.
The dryness also makes your hair feel rough and crunchy, especially towards the ends where hair is more porous and prone to breakage.
You have more breakage and split ends
Heat will break apart the protein bonds in your hair that keep it strong and resilient.
Because of this, heat-damaged hair is very fragile.
If you notice that your hair snaps into two while you’re brushing it, it might be a sign that your hair is very damaged.
One way to tell if your hair is breaking is to check for flyaways.
Shorter pieces of hair that stick out are likely strands that have already broken off.
And if you’ve been getting more split ends than usual, that’s yet another red flag.
Weak, brittle hair will always be prone to split ends.
Your hair sheds more than normal
The average person will lose about 50-100 strands of hair each day.
But when your hair is heat-damaged, you’ll lose way more than that.
Tugging with flat irons and curling wands can weaken your roots.
So, your follicles might start shedding more hair than is typical.
If there are more strands of hair in your drain after a shower, you should take it as a sign to stop heat-styling so much.
You get more frizz and flyaways
Dry hair is the opposite of sleek and defined—it’s separated, unruly, and ultra-frizzy.
So when your locks are heat-damaged, you should expect a lot of poofiness and flyaways that are hard to control.
If you’re having issues with dehydrated locks that are always messy, it could be the result of heat damage.
Extremely dry and weak strands tend to snag on each other and create frizz instead of staying smooth and behaved.
There are more tangles and knots in your hair
Your hair cuticles are made of little cells called shingles.
When you damage your hair with too much heat, the shingles will stick out and make it easy for your strands to snag on each other and create knots in your hair.
Having knotty hair makes it very challenging to brush through your locks.
That means your tresses won’t look smooth, since tangles are a surefire way to make your mane look unruly in an instant.
Your locks have less elasticity and bounce
When your hair is damaged and dehydrated, it will lose a lot of elasticity, aka what gives your hair its bounciness.
Elasticity is what makes your hair stretch and still retain its shape afterward.
Try taking a strand of hair and stretching it out gently.
If it stretches a bit before going back to its original position, then your hair is fine.
But if it snaps off because of the tension, it could be a sign of damage.
If you have curly hair, you might notice that your spirals aren’t as springy as they used to be.
If you have straight hair, you’ll find that your locks can’t even hold a curl anymore.
In both cases, it means your hair has almost zero elasticity.
How To Fix Burnt Hair From Flat Iron
All hope is not lost in the unfortunate event that you burn your locks when using a flat iron.
You can restore your fried and frizzy locks to their natural, healthy glory with the following tips:
Use Olive Oil
Immediately your hair is burnt, look for olive oil.
Use a pea-sized amount and run through the burnt parts to prevent the damage from spreading.
This will instantly smooth out and remove the straw-like texture that is common with burnt hair.
Olive oil can also mask the smell of burnt hair.
It has a great moisturizing effect and strengthens the burnt hair by penetrating the hair shaft and preserving moisture.
At a time when your hair has literally been fried, you need moisture.
This means that olive oil is used as a conditioner in this case, in a bid to add moisture and softness to the burnt area.
If you don’t have olive oil at hand, you can use any hydrating leave-in conditioner.
The goal is to moisturize the burnt part.
Deep Condition On A Regular Basis
Deep conditioning can help prevent further damage to your hair.
You need to replenish the lost keratin and give your hair a healthy shine.
Keratin is a protein that is the key structural material that makes up a hair strand.
It strengthens hair to help prevent things like chemical damage, heat damage, and breakage.
There are deep conditioning treatments made specifically for damaged hair.
You can do the treatment at home.
To get the best results, cover your hair in a shower cap after application and leave it on for 10-20 minutes.
This is often enough time for the protein in the treatment to settle into the damaged hair strands and fill them in, giving you healthier-looking hair.
It’s advisable to do this about once or twice a week, as you carefully observe whether the condition of the hair strands is improving.
You can also do this at a hair salon.
Book a session with your hairdresser and explain the situation.
An experienced professional will advise you on the deep conditioners in the market that will be perfect for your hair.
Use The Right Shampoo And Conditioner
Buy a shampoo and conditioner that is formulated for dry and damaged hair.
These often come with keratin and other proteins that will restore your damaged hair shaft.
They are also formulated to be more hydrating so that your hair stays soft when dry.
The ideal shampoo should have a rich formula that starts to work at the root.
It should also be able to lock in moisture and strengthen ends to prevent and heal split ends.
Shampoo that contains nutrients, antioxidants, ceramides, and UVA/UVB protectors is highly recommended.
You may also want to go for shampoos that contain glycerin.
This is because glycerin is a great humectant.
It pulls moisture from the air and adds it back to dry hair strands.
Having glycerin as one of the ingredients in shampoos specially made for damaged hair is a plus.
A good conditioner for damaged hair should be able to work from root to tip to boost vitality and overall hair health.
The cracks in your hair cuticles need to be filled.
This can be done using a protein-based conditioner that is also great in smoothing flyaways.
An ideal conditioner will help restore the damaged strands and leave your hair soft, sleek, and shiny.
Hot Oil Treatments
This is one of the easy tips for someone trying to find out how to fix burnt hair from a flat iron.
Please note: This tip is not the same as using a pinch of olive oil on your hair immediately after the heat damage occurs.
Hot oil treatment is the act of using heat and oil to moisturize your hair.
This can be done in two ways.
The first method involves heating one type of oil or a blend of many oils and then applying it to your hair.
Be careful not to use very hot oil that might end up burning you.
Gently massage the oil on your scalp and then cover it with a shower cap for about 30 minutes before washing your hair.
The second method involves applying a generous amount of the oil(s) of your choice into your hair and scalp.
Cover with a plastic cap and apply heat for 30-45 minutes.
To apply heat, you can choose to sit under a hooded dryer, wrap your head with hot towels, or use a heat cap.
Wash your hair after the time is up.
Burnt hair is dry and brittle.
Hot oil treatments help to replenish oils back into the hair strands.
This, therefore, helps to prevent breakage which can be caused by the brittleness of the burnt strands.
Use Heat-Free Alternatives
There are a number of heat-free alternatives that you can use to straighten your hair.
Since you want to avoid subjecting your hair to further damage, steering clear of any hot tools is the best way to go.
You can still attain a sleek, frizz-free look without using heat-styling appliances.
First, use a leave-in conditioner to keep the frizz at bay.
You can also opt for hair serums that keep the hair hydrated and soft all day.
If you have naturally wavy or curly hair, use curl enhancers to give your curls or waves body and shine.
You can also opt for various hairstyles, like a classic French braid or a fuss-free ponytail to give yourself a new look without damaging your locks.
If you have type 4 hair, there are various ways you can stretch your hair without putting it into direct contact with heat.
You can also do twist-outs, braid-outs, or use roller sets without heat.
Since my heat damage incident, I like to minimize the use of heat styling appliances.
Transition For A While
Let’s be honest.
In most cases, heat damage is so severe it cannot be reversed.
The methods discussed above can only do so much to fix the situation.
Since many women view chopping off the burnt hair as the last option, you can try to transition for a while.
This involves letting your hair grow to a length that you are comfortable with and then finally chopping off the damaged ends.
During the transitioning period, observe the best hair care practices.
Do all the things I’ve mentioned: deep condition your hair regularly, use shampoo and conditioner for damaged hair, and stay away from heat-styling appliances.
This is because the line of demarcation where the two textures meet is very weak and needs to be protected.
Otherwise, it’ll end up breaking off before your transition period is over.
Some experts say that it’s better off to just cut off the damaged ends.
They explain that this is because the damage will travel beyond the line of demarcation, and you’ll end up cutting more than you initially expected.
This is one of the practical tips you can use if you are wondering how to fix burnt hair from a flat iron.
Chop Off The Damaged Hair
I’m sure this is not the kind of tip many ladies want to hear but it’s actually the best option.
This is how I dealt with heat damage a few years ago.
Sometimes the heat damage is so bad that none of the above tips can salvage the situation.
In my case, my hair had weakened so much after the heat damage and breakage occurred soon after.
For ladies who don’t want to do a big chop, you can start by regular trimming.
Trimming can help stimulate the growth of new, healthy hair.
Experts recommend a trim every three weeks.
During this time, it helps to swear off any styling tools that could damage your new growth.
Also, avoid chemical treatments such as hair relaxers and hair colors since these are also very harsh on new hair growth.
How To Avoid Getting Heat Damage From Flat Irons
There are a few things you can do to avoid getting heat damage in the future.
Go Slow On The Heat-Styling
Prevent even more damage from occurring by taking a break from the root of the problem – your hot tools.
Give your hair a few weeks to rest and recuperate after the stress it’s gone through.
If you must use a flat iron, keep the heat to minimum levels.
Use the lowest heat setting for the hair type.
For instance, for fine hair, use the ‘warm’ setting.
Pass the flat iron plates rapidly through the hair once.
Do not go over the hair again.
This will reduce the amount of damage that your hair is exposed to while allowing you to style your hair any way you want.
Ensure Your Hair Is Dry
You should dry your hair completely before you use heat-styling appliances such as flat irons.
Air dry your hair or dry it thoroughly using a t-shirt before using a blow dryer to completely dry it off.
If you attempt to flat iron wet hair, it will lead to steam damage which can be viewed as boiling your hair from the outside.
This will result in heat damage.
Use A Heat Protectant
If you really must heat-style, slather your hair with a heat protectant.
This keeps your hair from burning when it comes into contact with heat because it creates a protective barrier between your hair and the flat iron.
This barrier helps to seal in moisture, helping to protect your hair strands from damage as I wrote about in this post.
Using A Moisturizing Shampoo
Before straightening your hair, ensure that your hair is squeaky clean.
It’s advisable to use a moisturizing shampoo to clean your hair and get rid of dirt and build-up.
You can also go for a clarifying shampoo if you have a lot of product build-up or in instances when quite a lot of residue has accumulated in your hair.
Use A Deep Conditioner With Protein
A deep conditioner with protein, especially keratin, is highly recommended for people who want to straighten their hair using a flat iron.
It helps strengthen the hair strands before heat styling.
Ladies with high porosity hair regularly use protein deep conditioners to repair and reconstruct their hair.
This treatment can also be used by people with low porosity hair who tend to be protein-sensitive.
They, however, should use it occasionally to avoid suffering from dry and brittle hair which is caused by protein overload.
Flat Iron Occasionally
I cut down my blow-drying frequency to once or twice a year after suffering from heat damage.
In the same way, you should also reduce the number of times you straighten your hair using a flat iron.
For my type 4 hair sisters, frequent flat ironing can change your curl pattern.
When this happens, no matter how many times you wash your hair, the curls just won’t come back.
Hair shrinkage is a sign of healthy hair.
Heat damage manifests itself when someone straightens their natural hair but when they wash it, it does not revert back to its curly/coily state.
This may mean you have to cut off the damaged hair.
Seek Straightening Alternatives
You can avoid heat damage by choosing to stretch and style your hair without using heat.
Type 4 hair ladies can choose to use rollers set without heat, band their hair with elastic bands, or do African threading.
Braid outs and twist outs are also good alternatives.
Flat irons are great tools to get sleek and pin-straight hair, but all that heat can do your locks more harm than good.
If you get heat damage, deep condition your hair on a regular basis.
Use shampoos and conditioners for damaged hair, as well as other tips discussed above.
To avoid suffering from heat damage again, you should always protect your hair even after the initial problem has been addressed.
Better yet, avoid using a flat iron, even for just a few months.
But for a number of us hot tools are key to experimenting with your hairstyles, you can’t avoid a love-hate relationship with heat.
Always keep an eye out for the warning signs of heat damage.
The earlier you spot them, the faster you can stop damage in its tracks and nurse your hair back to health.
In no time, your hair will be strong, healthy, and shiny again.
Your hair will thank you.