What Kenyan/ African women should know about using heat on their hair.

August 06, 2015

I am planning to straighten my hair using direct heat for a friend’s wedding this weekend and since I am adequately preparing my hair for the process I thought why not share with you what I have learnt about heat use all through my hair journey. 
wet texture shot before heat

wet texture shot before heat
Most people on healthy hair journeys prefer not to use heat at all or prefer to keep heat use at the minimal with good reason. Heat can cause a lot of damage to the hair if not correctly applied. Unfortunately most hairdressers in Kenya have no idea how to apply heat to their client’s hair while protecting it from unnecessary damage. Here is what normally happens in Kenyan salon setting. Freshly washed hair is normally blown dry with a blow drier with a comb attachment on the highest possible heat setting until it is completely dry and tangle free. Next comb less attachment and the process is repeated. After this a lot of hair food is applied to the hair and once again the hair is blown dry. In some cases this process is followed up with a flat ironing session. This is way too much heat for any type of hair and will cause damage. I personally had an experience where a part of my hair was literally burnt and it turned light brown as if it had been bleached, that part eventually broke off with time. This is why it is important for you as a client or if you do your own hair, to know how to adequately prepare your hair for the process and know what to do during the process. Never be ashamed to speak up at a salon if the stylist is using too much heat on your hair.

Here are a few tips you can take to keep heat damage at a minimal:

  1. Clarify your hair with a shampoo and deep condition your hair with a protein conditioner as well as a moisturising conditioner. A conditioner that contains hydrolyzed protein is more preferable than using kitchen remedies like eggs, coconut milk or mayonnaise. This is because hydrolyzed protein can actually penetrate the hair and temporarily repair your hair shaft. The kitchen remedies are protein rich but the proteins are too large to penetrate the hair and only coat the surface of the hair.
  2. Use a silicone based conditioner and/ or a silicone based heat protector. Silicones have a very high burning point and they keep extra moisture out which helps with reversion especially on natural hair. Using a silicone based product will apply a thin layer of a heat resistant film that will keep your hair from too much heat exposure.
  3. Use a good flat iron. Hair starts burning at a temperature of about 450F/ 232.2C. Using a flat iron and blow drier that can be regulated is vital if you want to keep your hair from damage.
  4. Detangle and stretch your hair before flat ironing it.
  5. Use a flat iron with ceramic plates as these distribute heat equally along the hair shaft.
  6. Keep product use to a minimal if your aim is too achieve smooth silky hair. Too much product will only cause your hair to be weighed down and the strands will clamp to each other instead of flowing freely.

I will be sticking to these tips and will definitely share my straightening experience with you. In the meantime please share your hair straightening experiences in the comment section. I would love to know how it is done in other African countries and also your experiences in Kenyan salons.

Stay blessed,

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  1. Thanks for the information, I will try it as soon as I am in the Teeny Afro, at the moment I am in the TWA.

    1. Hi Lauralivll, glad you found this useful. i wish you all the best in your healthy hair growing :)

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