I am back and trying to go strong, and would like to propose a challenge for all those interested in regularly flat ironing their hair. I have gone 2 years roughly without relying on heat, having used it only about 5xs or so during this timespan, and i've concluded that flat ironed hair is the way to go for me. for others who've decided to walk this path, so to speak, particularly those who are natural or texlaxed, i offer this challenge for you to join me in a healthy journey involving heat.
I guess officially many recognize it as Heat Training, but it seems HT conjures up a different picture depending on the head, but i view HT as training your hair (worn primarily straight, probly rarely curly) to not revert easily in humidity. Training it to reach a point where regardless of if you sweat or a little steam or atmospheric humidity hits it, it will remain almost the same as when you first pressed it. This is achievable if you flat iron your hair enough, as i can attest from personal experience. at the same time, however, our goal is still relatively healthy hair, measured by "body", resiliency (how well it resists breakage when handled in either state), vitality, moisture retention, and overall, length retention. I achieved success with this in the past, and only started experimenting with natural styles after i'd discovered that a tiny patch in my crown section seemed adverse to retaining length as compared with the rest of my hair which had surpassed it by leaps and bounds in length and silkiness.
sooo....this brings me to the second part of this challenge, which is the wash feature.
if you're interested in heat training your hair or undertaking this challenge, it will probably serve you in the long run to limit your flat ironing to no more than 2-3 xs per month, but ideally i aim to work to a point at which i flat iron no more frequently (which i count according to the exposure of the ENDS of my hair to heat, as they are the oldest/most fragile) than once monthly.
for the sake of personalization of this goal, i would allow you guys to set your own flat iron pace (within limitation), but mine will be regulated by how frequently i wash, since i dont aim to ever wash my hair again without blow drying it straight first and subsequently flat ironing it.
as of now i have been washing my hair at a frequency of once per 3-4 days, which leads to the exacerbation of itchy scalp that i didn't experience back when i washed only once per 2 wks. so now my goal is to return to washing my hair less frequently, and indeed, eventually, once per month a la Sister With Real Hair, who serves as my vlogger inspiration for this approach. i think it is doable, and will require a lot of training and forbearance on my part. but that's the fun part, rt?
the point of this will be to decrease overall manipulation, as the only need i would ever have of detangling my hair and manipulating it at all would fall on wash day, but the rest of the month i can realistically see myself not touching my hair at all except just to finger style it into updos, which i have always been able to do without incurring a single hair of breakage.
therefore, i invite all my beloved and fellow heat trainers to join me. you don't have to hold out for once-per-month washes, but i would like for you to challenge yourselves to not use heat more than you *must*.
in my experience, the more you use heat over the course of time, the less you have to use it, if that makes sense lol
it begins to hold presses better, resist reversion and also tends to be silkier and more manageable in general *if done correctly* so that it only requires one pass to make bone straight.
with this said, i will not define how you define *correct usage/technique*, as everyone's hair is different. i had great success with flat ironing even though i didn't use heat protectant. i used to flat iron wkly, sometimes touching up areas in b/t as needed (rarely, tho, might i add ), and with bleach added, of all things, for dying lol
so it's up to you, as i'm relying on you all to know your hair and therefore consider yourself the best judge of its needs. generally, black hair that is subjected to heat on a regular basis tends to need more protein than hair that is kept heat free. pls keep this in mind. also note that deep conditioning probly was the reason my hair fared well back then, as i deep conditioned religiously with every wash, usually with a protein condish. also, generally, shampooing is very important if you choose to go this route, as hair should not be flat ironed with residue left over from cowashes.
again, YMMV, and some may be able to get away with things others cannot.
so let the challenge commence and i wish you all well.
the only rules i have are the following:
don't flat iron more than twice a week. as time progresses you should need to do it no more often than once per week, if not just 1-2 xs per month, ideally.
trim ends as needed. this is not a command to trim or not to trim, so interpret it how you wish with that in mind. if your ends are always breaking, then this applies to you. those bad boys must go!
at the same time, if your ends are pretty healthy (averaging no more than roughly one-two broken hairs per day or so, or whatever is your established norm on otherwise healthy hair) then i advise you not to trim haphazardly. keep in mind that after 4-7 yrs anyway you'll probly have a whole new head of hair than what you started with, so to that end, if your hair is kept healthy overall you need not obsess over perfect tresses :)
don't trim off hair that *doesn't revert back curly*. if you're concerned about non-reverting ends because you think you'll want to wear your hair curly every so often and would be concerned about its appearance then this challenge may not be for you, as it is aimed at those who desire to wear their hair predominantly straight. it's never a good idea to flat iron one wash, go back to curly the next, then go back to flat ironing, and bounce back to curly, because your hair will look altered from the heat as time goes on. this is about controlling damage in a consistent way toward the end of achieving a set look (straightness).
if you aim to wear your hair straight all the time, as i do, then it will be irrelevant how straight your ends are. so long as they're not breaking and splitting, that's what counts as we differentiate b/t "healthy" vs. "damaged". there is no one i've ever seen IRL or online who flat ironed their hair consistently for years straight whose hair did not lose its original curl element as time went on. that's because heat degrades the proteins of your hair with each exposure, so it makes sense that your hair wouldn't look the same in its natural state. my personal goal is not to loosen my curl pattern, but i accept that it may come with the territory of flat ironed hair.
Use a quality iron. I can't stress this enough. I don't advise using anything you might find in walmart or a drugstore, as in my experience these flat irons sold here can't shake a stick at the more widely accepted professional brands, such as Chi, FHI, Sedu, Hana, etc.
i'm not encouraging anyone to break bank, as i believe you can find a good iron now for anywhere from 40- 100 bucks, depending where you look, but check the description as well as reviews from users. if your source is a vlogger, look at their hair over the course of time, assuming they're frequent heat users. Note whether their hair is the worse for it, and see what others (preferably with your hair texture) have to say about the iron. Things to look out for are if the iron doesn't say that it has 100 percent or solid ceramic plates. That's the biggest thing. other things you might look for are that it says "tourmaline", and when checking reviews, if you see a reviewer or several say that they noted an increased incidence of split ends, take this point seriously. some argue that heat in general causes split ends, and in my experience there's more to it than just Heat= breaking/splitting hair. a lot of times what we don't realize is that the quality of the tool or how it is used can be a bigger culprit than the heat itself. so do your research/homework on that one.
Check in monthly with a picture update of how you're fairing in your journey!
Wash your hair no more frequently than once a week, even if your scalp feels like it wants to kill you. Trust, we're no strangers to that feeling, either. It's all a matter of training. the only exception to this is if you have a scalp condition, medically recognized as such (diagnosed), that demands that you stay on top of washing your hair/scalp (such as psoriasis. i understand here, b/c my husband has it. but i recommend abstaining from a challenge such as this in that case)
Protective style 4 out of every 7 days. (here i mean an updo, but i'm also including ponytail, provided it doesnt hang low enough to make contact repetitively with your clothing or other surfaces. perhaps a high pony would be the best choice if you would rather pony it up!)
Abstain from combing hair daily, shooting for no more frequently than once a week if need be. You should be able to use your fingers for anything under this frequency, be it styling, massaging, minor detangling. The decreased manipulation will serve to increase length retention.
if you encounter humidity, or water directly, you are allowed to flat iron your hair again without it counting against the limit (as well as comb), but strive to avoid either scenario at all possible. :)
ok, those are the rules. the time frame for this challenge is for as long as you predict it'll take you to get to your next length milestone. so if you're, say, SL you might aim for APL, and so might set a goal of a year.
For me, i just trimmed my ends back up to SL, with some strands even shorter (crown area, where else? lol) so my goal is APL (13 inches), which will take me anywhere from 10-12 months with no trims. so unofficially, the end date, subject to change, is 10/31/2014.
I hope i see everyone that joins to the finish line, and there is no limit to who can join, or when, as it is pretty much individual. but i do ask that you declare your own personal end date as well as as much info regarding your routine that you deem necessary.
thanks guys, and enjoy. i will be checking in every so often to show progress and encourage you all in your journey.