Can 'Curl Training' Reverse Heat Damage?

The answer is a little complicated.

ALL NATURAL: Can "Curl Training" Your Hair Reverse Heat Damage?
Photo: Getty Images/InStyle

It's every curly girl's nightmare: Waiting years to grow your Afro out to the perfect length, just for your texture to be destroyed by one bad blow-out or styling session.

And while most heat protectants can shield your strands up to 450 degrees, too many passes of a hot tool can wreak damage beyond repair.

But what if there was a way to "train" your curls back to revert to their natural texture?

Here, we tapped BREAD Global Styling Director Shelby Samaria, to share everything you need to know about curl training — and whether or not it can really reverse heat damage.

What Is Curl Training?

The idea of "training" your hair to do anything kind of sounds outrageous, right? But if you have naturally curly strands, this is a great way to keep your hair texture looking its best.

"Curl training is restoring and reforming one's natural curl memory," shares Samaria. "[It's] refining and embracing one's curl memory to give the hair a more consistent look. You'll have more body and a more polished, cohesive look."

How Do I Curl Train My Hair?

One great aspect of curl training is there are a plethora of ways to do it. It all just comes down to what's best for your particular hair texture and type. But first thing's first: It's very important to avoid using heat if you're looking to restore your curl pattern. Treatments such as coloring, relaxing, and even using keratin can also hold your hair back.

"The most important foundational factor would be to begin with a haircut," the stylist explains. "Getting rid of any unhealthy hair will help embrace and encourage any curl to form. A haircut will also increase volume and add body to the hair."

Next, you'll need to invest in hydrating wash day products. Samaria is a fan of BREAD's line of products, which are specifically formulated for natural hair, including the hair-wash and hair-mask. We also love Pattern's Hydrating Shampoo and Leave-In Conditioner.

While cleansing your hair is essential, when it comes to curl training and restoration, how you style your hair is actually the most important step.

"You can style your hair into two-strand twists or braids to add and balance your curls, if your hair lives within the 4 family," explains Samaria. "If your hair lives within the 3s, after applying product, brush through small sections and refine each curl with a Denman brush. You can also finger twist hair strands, setting curls in smaller sections of hair with product for any curly hair type to help restore curls and embrace curl memory."

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Can Curl Training Actually Reverse Heat Damage?

Technically, no. Once the hair has been damaged, the only solution is to cut it off. But curl training can help give your hair more body and symmetry as it grows out.

"Once you have heat damage, the elasticity of your hair changes," says Samaria. "When the hair stays straight after heat damage, it's because the heat has changed the shape of your natural hair's keratin strands."

How Long Will I Have to Train My Curls Until I See Results?

"It truly depends on your hair length, amount of heat damage, and the amount of TLC you invest back into the hair," the hairstylist shares.

But generally speaking, you should start to see a shift in your texture in anywhere from six months to a year.

This is All Natural. From the kinkiest coils to loose waves, we're celebrating natural hair in its many forms by sharing expert tips for styling, maintenance, and haircare.

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