How I Repaired “Damaged” Curls from 2011-2016

Last updated on August 19th, 2022 at 05:56 pm

How to repair damaged curly hair is the meat of this article so if that’s been an issue you have, keep reading because I have 15 years of experience figuring this thing out! I started my natural hair journey without having a clue. In fact, I didn’t even know about how to repair curls from heat damage. Fast forward to today and my curls are poppin’ like pin pricked bubbles! They didn’t start out that way though. In fact, I had to learn how to repair damaged curls and below I’m sharing everything I learned with you!

how to repair damaged curly hair
A slight texture change occurred after having my hair blown out one time.
This is wet hair.

A little over a month ago, a reader asked me what I did to repair what appeared to be damaged curls from heat damage. She wanted to know what steps I took to repair my damaged curly hair that resulted in a dramatic curl transformation from 2011 (the beginning of my blogging career) to now.

Realizing that there may be others wondering how I repaired damaged curly hair (some methods can help you do so without cutting) I decided to share everything I did. Read on to discover how I made it happen.

My Hair’s History

My hair was relaxed at the age of about 11 years old. I maintained that relaxer into my early 30s. Fast forward nearly 13 years, the approximate length of time that I’ve been embracing my natural hair. I stopped flat ironing long before I began blogging but there are some key things that I did that caused me to appear as if I had heat damaged hair, like pulling my hair back in a ponytail very tightly on a regular basis. You can read more about it here.

how to repair damaged curls without cutting

How to Repair Damaged Curly Hair

Hair can be very forgiving but you have to sometimes help it along. I know you would rather figure out how to repair damaged curly hair without cutting it but sometimes you just need to.

Here are the very specific actions that you can take to repair curls from heat damage or even just straight training your hair.

Got a trim to shape the hair in layers

Most of my length was retained on the bottom and sides of my hair. Most of what was trimmed was done from the crown area. Notice there are still some sections that have less of a curl. So, the trim didn’t completely remedy my inconsistent curl pattern.

naturally curly hair cut
Day 2 After the Wash and Go Cut

I started doing full strength henna treatments regularly (this contributed to the temporary loosening of my curls). Then, I stumbled upon Zizyphus when I purchased my henna from Mehandi.com. The customer rep at Mehandi advised that Zizyphus was capable of repairing curls that were damaged. I no longer have a need to use Zizyphus but it was very instrumental in helping to repair my hair.

Check out: Henna and Amla (Hint: combined your curls won’t loosen)

Weekly protein treatments to repair damaged curly hair

I can not emphasize how important this is. One of the best ways to repair curls from heat damage is the use of protein treatments.

Protein fortifies the hair. All that nonsense about protein sensitivity is just unfounded. You have to know what type of protein to use in your hair and then it must be used when your hair needs it. In my case, weekly was in order until the curls returned in a uniform fashion. At the time, I used Aphogee Two Step but now I use a DIY Goat’s Milk treatment.

If you are looking to repair damaged curls from heat damage, you will need to be more diligent.

diy goat's milk hair conditioner

Deep conditioning every wash day.

It stands to reason that this goes without saying. If you are going to even attempt to repair damaged curls from heat damage, it’s so important to balance your protein moisture levels.

Whenever using protein, the deep conditioner is used to create the perfect balance of protein and moisture. I’ve only skipped my deep conditioning twice in 5 years as of the writing of this article.

how to repair curls from heat damage

Wearing my hair in its naturally curly state most of the time.

The wash and go is the best way to allow your curls to just be the way they are. You can always do twist outs and braid outs but the more you alter your curls from their natural state, the more they are trained to be that way (causing what appears to be damaged curls). I still do twist outs, braid outs and protective styles (winter mostly) but not all of the time.

I make sure I don’t twist or braid too tightly and I don’t usually style my hair in anything but a wash and go more than once or twice a month – except in the winter when I protective style.

Repair damaged curls by protective styling with my natural curl pattern

As a continuation to the above, I allow my hair to be in its naturally curly state even when in a protective style. This is one of the ways you can help your hair recover if you want to discover how to repair curls from heat damage

For example, I will make my buns into curly buns and my up-dos are done without stretching my hair out too much. At night, I let my curls down so that they can just be. I put my hair in a high ponytail to sleep. (and get this…it stretches the back of my hair nearly straight too! Only the ends are left curly but I can hide that since its in the back at the bottom.)

Curly Bun

When styling my hair in a wash and go, I gently stretch my curls over night by banding my hair . This does not cause any damage. As it’s getting longer, the weight of my hair causes it to stretch so that I don’t have to band it as much for length.

Banding helps to reduce tangles but I’m even careful not to do this too often since it temporarily stretches the hair from it’s natural curl pattern.

As you can tell, I was quite diligent with what I did to repair damaged curls. My curls are a lot more defined than they were back in 2011 when I first started learning how to care for my fine natural hair. And, while I’m sharing what I’ve been doing for the past five years, it certainly didn’t take that long to see changes.

If you are having problems with damaged curls not caused by heat, or an inconsistent curl pattern, try the methods I shared above to kick start your curl recovery. You will need to employ patience but time heals all wounds curls. (~says me)

Evolution of My Curls

Mouse over the individual images to see the date the photos were taken.

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Michelle Smith

Michelle is a Christian natural hair enthusiast. She's been natural for 20+ years and shares natural hair care tips and easy hairstyles for those with low density or thin fine natural hair. It's her joy to inspire you to live by faith in God while caring for your "crown."

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Daisya H.

    Thanks for sharing this! I’ve been struggling with heat damage on my fine hair for a month. Will try to follow your advice.

    1. Michelle Smith

      Hi Daisya-

      It’s definitely a long term commitment when you don’t want to cut it all off. Most people just cave and cut it. You could opt to trim out the damage slowly. I wish you the best.

      Michelle

  2. Karin

    WHAT AN AWESOME ARTICLE!!! You know I had to come check you out after your comment about recording! Love this. Will be trying the diy goat treatment with me and my son. We both need it! Thank you so much!!!

    1. Michelle Smith

      Hey Karin, thanks a lot for stopping by! The goat’s milk is AWESOME. It really strengthens the hair. I’m not a huge diy gal but this one is easy peasy

  3. Naturally Kinky Me

    Thanks for the info. I too used to pull my hair tightly during my transitioning days which lead to my hairline brealing off. I love my protein my hair becomes strenghtend from the treatments.

    1. Michelle Smith

      Protein is definitely critical to keep our hair strong. So many people misunderstand how to use it.

      I didn’t get breakage from pulling my hair straight (thankfully) but the straightening of my hair for extended periods definitely took a toll on it.

  4. Deslann

    Thanks for sharing! I have learned so much…

  5. Meka

    Can you please share your process on how you apply Henna and protein? Do you wait a specific amount of time in between Henna applications?

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