It amazes me that my fellow natural hair divas believe heat damage isn't real or can't happen to them. So many times on twitter or nappturality.com I read that ladies decided to flat iron their hair and now they can't get their curl pattern back.....wait for it......wait for it....DUH!!!! Heat damage is irreversible. It doesn't matter how many deep conditioning treatments or protein treatments you do, your hair will not be the same after that. The curl pattern will loosen or worse just not revert at all. I know of someone personally that had to BC after 2 years of thick, beautiful naturalness because they flat ironed their hair once and the kinks, waves, and curls wouldn't come back, so sad.
This is a healthy strand of hair cuticle. Notice the prettifulness (yes I said that) of it? Smooth, strong, and healthy looking? Well....
Here is its sick cousin. This is a cuticle strand damaged by heat. It doesn't matter how much pre-pooing, leave-in conditioning, or heat protecting products you use, it's not going to help.
The usual culprits are flat iron, hand-held blow dryer, and the new fad, the instyler. Hood dryers are definitely up for debate. They have lower temps than hand-held dryers, they aren't a source of direct heat, and have a much cooler settings. I'm not condoning hooded dryers but I think they are an option for the least amount of heat damage
The purpose of natural hair is to embrace a more healthy state of hair. Just as there are natural ways to color hair (tea and henna) there are also ways to naturally straightened hair:
Some have flat ironed their hair numerous time and have yet to see any noticeable affects but I feel eventually you will. It's kinda like smoking, at first you don't see any visible danger, though you know its there, but at some point, you will. I know that this is something that will ALWAYS be debated but this is just my 2cents on the matter :)