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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Natural Girl Files: Can Heat Destroy The Hair's Curl Pattern?

silk press on natural hair
I have a LOT of natural clients that come to me to get their hair straightened.  They want to be relaxer free but still want to wear the straight styles.  They have no intention of ever wearing their hair in its natural state.  Then on the other hand, I also have natural clients that only get their hair straightened every once in a while just to see how long it has gotten and to get a trim. Regardless of the frequency of getting a silk press, one of the most asked questions is will the heat destroy the curl pattern.

I am going to break this down as easily as I can. First, the answer is no, your curl pattern will not be destroyed by continuous heat. Now here's why.

The hair is made up of bonds. The ones I will talk about today are the hydrogen and salt bonds.  When the bonds in the hair are altered, it allows the hair to look differently than it would in its natural state.  Hydrogen bonds are bonds in the hair that are easily broken by water.  Salt bonds are bonds in the hair that are easily broken by water and heat. In both cases, the bonds are rejoined together when the hair dries and cools.  What does this mean in plain English? Let's say you want some rods but your hair is bone straight.  Once you wet your hair to shampoo it, the hydrogen bonds are broken.  That is why you have to roll the hair while wet, or "set" it on the rollers.  After you roll the hair on the rods, you sit under the dryer, which allows the salt bonds to rejoin in the hair.  What is different is that they have rejoined while being on the roller so once the rollers are taken out the hair has taken on the shape of that roller, thus producing the rods.

In the case of a silk press, the hair is first shampooed in order to break the hydrodgen bonds in naturally curly hair.  Then as the hair is being blow dried and pressed, the salt bonds are being broken by the heat.  So, once the hair is completely dry, has been pressed out, and is back cool again the bonds in the hair have rejoined and now take the shape of being silky straight.

Since there are no chemicals involved in a silk press that permanently alter the bonds in the hair, getting them, no matter how often can not destroy the natural curl pattern.  The hair will always revert back to its natural state.  If you get silk presses often, your hair will eventually start becoming easier to press because you are not allowing the bonds to reform back to your hair's curly state.  That does not equal your curl pattern being destroyed though.  If you were to stop getting silk presses, your hair's curl pattern would come back.  Even if it doesn't come back right after the first shampoo, it will eventually come back because you haven't done anything permanently to the hair's bonds to make them change like that.  The only thing that will cause your naturally curly hair to remain straight forever is a relaxer or some other kind of permanent straightener.

So, despite the fact that you have been getting your hair pressed over and over again, your hair has not gone permanently straight.  Rest assured that as soon as you stop pressing, your natural curl can and will come back!
(update)- There were a few questions about this post so make sure you see pt 2 here


  1. Not sure I agree with this. My sister and friend are both natural and after straightening a few times they both got heat damage and their curl patterns were loosen as a result. Even in the picture above, I can't see the ladie's curl pattern. The ends most certainly look stright. Are you saying that heat damage doesn't exist? Or that by heat training the hair's curl patter won't loosen over time? Thanks.

    1. please see pt 2 to see if I answered your questions. Thanks!

  2. I so appreciate this all article because I posed a question on Facebook in regards to natural ladies having to be "nappy or kinky. " I myself is one who is without chemical for almost three years now but I prefer to have my hair pressed every 2 weeks at the most, and I hardly ever do anything to it myself. So thank you for this article.


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