Ladies with relaxed hair often assume that the concept of heat damage does not apply to us, as opposed to natural hair, we are not able to immediately see evidence of the damage that has occurred. But the reality is that this is not true, as our hair tends to be more prone to heat damage after having been subjected to the harsh chemicals that are in the relaxers; hence the need to find the best heat protectant for relaxed hair.

When relaxed hair is being flat ironed, what one is actually doing is augment heat into the hair which no longer possesses its inherent strength. Additionally, this is hair that is at that moment more permeable than when it is in its natural state. Once the hair has succumbed to heat damage, the evidence is presented in form of increased breakage.

Heat also has a tendency to damage hair cuticles, meaning that this hair may also end up being more porous making it feel brittle and dry. Your hair will also have reduced elasticity. If you are to apply direct heat to your already relaxed hair using a curling iron or a flat iron, I would recommend that you only do this for special occasions.

For such occasions when you really have to wear your tresses in a smooth manner, you can do the following to prevent it from heat damage.

Why does relaxed hair get heat damage?

Relaxed hair will get heat damage from the following three reasons:

  • Exposure to harsh chemicals
  • Augmented heat from a flat iron
  • Cuticle damage from direct heat (curling iron or flat iron)


Start by performing a hot oil treatment. It is a necessary step as it will keep your hair safe from being stripped after you have applied shampoo. There are oils that will normally infuse into your tresses providing them with additional strength and shine, and they also assist in moisturizing and smoothen your hair shaft. As you are taking care of your hair, you also need to ensure that your skin is radiant, smooth, and properly moisturized.

For this, I would recommend using Nubian Heritage Lotion, Honey, and Black Seed heat protectant.  It is a lotion that contains proteins, amino acids, and natural enzymes ideal for moisturizing your skin. It also comes with keratin which plays an important role in protecting your skin from the harmful sunrays.


It is necessary to properly clean your hair to make sure that you do away with any buildup that is present. Buildup can contribute to dullness during the flat ironing process. Where necessary, apply a sulfate shampoo to assist you to remove this buildup.

The shampoo may come in handy when you have been too heavy handed with your earlier treatments.

There are a ton of shampoos available, girl.  Choose which one you like best, honestly.  We tend to side with Naturally Curly website; their most popular brand is Elucence Moisture Benefits Shampoo.  That’s our favorite as well, as it’s a great choice for dry or color-treated hair.  Since the moisture formula automatically adjusts to your hair, excess levels just wash away.  Pretty neat.

Deep Conditioning

 Image of black woman deep conditioning her relaxed hair

Image Credit: @naturallysini

This is an important step as it is where you will be creating a strong base for later on. The base can be created by performing what we call a protein treatment. The protein is vital as it will add resilience to your extensions, thereby making sure that when you finally apply heat, the tresses will be able to withstand the heat damaging effects.

You do not need to go for the hard Aphogee two-step treatment when there are conditioners that can easily accomplish this task, such as Kiehl’s Heat-Protective Silk-Straightening Cream. Applying a small amount of this cream on to your hair is enough to block humidity from the tresses. It is an amazing product for that woman who is in the process of making a transition.


 Back shot of a African American woman's detangled natural hair

Image Credit: @detangled_hair

If you want to have a smooth finish after using the flat iron, you have to perform detangling. You need a wide tooth comb for this particular task.

Begin by separating the hair to form sections, to ensure that you will detangle properly. Once separated, braid each completed section to make sure that it will not re-tangle. The best way to detangle is to start at the ends and then proceed to the roots.

Air Drying

For this particular case, it will be best to air dry your hair, more so if you intend to use a flat iron later on. A lady with tight coils may need to first have the hair blow dried before proceeding, but for women with relaxed hair, we can always skip this particular step.

If it is possible for you to avoid using heat more than two times during the course of your styling session, then you will be eliminating potential areas where the heat damage may occur. The best way to air dry the hair would be to use rollers to smoothen and stretch the tresses. It ensures that the hair is completely dry before flat ironing can start.

Flat Iron

 Picture of a beautiful black woman's straightened hair

Image Credit:   @straightnaturalhair

When it comes to flat irons, we sista’s have our preferences but the holy grail of flat irons is most certainly the GHD Classic Styler 1″.

All the above steps have been preparing you for the final stage. By now, the foundation is already set, and this means that the flat ironing process should flow along smoothly.

In this stage, you will need to have a good heat protectant with you.  Show Beauty Sheer Thermal Protect is very popular, as it is loaded with anti-oxidants and wheat proteins. This too will assist in shielding your hair from the flat iron temperatures which are likely to rise to as much as four hundred and twenty-eight degrees.

Why Use a Heat Protectant?

  • The heat protectant will smoothen your hair cuticles thereby ensuring that your hair is less porous. This also guarantees that the hair will not start frizzing because of the humidity.
  • A good protectant helps in restoring moisture to your tresses. One thing you should know is that our hair is always in need of moisture. Applying the protectant before subjecting the hair to a flat iron ensures that it will remain conditioned in spite of the high heat temperature.
  • Protectants make it easier to manage the hair by properly lubricating Your hair will, therefore, detangle easily and be soft to your touch.
  • The protectant will prevent moisture loss as it adds a protective layer above the hair making it difficult for your hair to lose moisture.

How to Use a Protectant

It is always advisable to make sure that the protectant is applied when the hair is still moist. It works perfectly with conditioned hair. This is because the hair is able to absorb this protectant.

Styling should only commence once the tresses have dried up completely. Ladies with really dry hair ought to ensure that the protectant is applied when the hair is wet, and then topped up by a good conditioner. Styling should never be done when the hair is moist.

Recommended Heat Protectants

Featured image credit:  @relaxedhairsisters