As a born-and-raised Southern California native, all I have ever wanted is perfectly tousled beachy waves. While my hair has some natural wave to it, it’s not quite the wave I’m going for. That’s where my beloved curling wand comes in (the amika Switch Kit Beach Beauty, to be exact).
Heat styling my strands with a curling wand amps up my natural waves — not to mention: It makes them last longer and helps me achieve a combination of “I woke up like this” and “I spent my morning surfing and running on the beach” hair. But, the truth is, I never wake up like this. I don’t know how to surf, and I can barely walk in the sand — let alone run on the beach.
All that aside, I decided to ditch my beloved curling wand and focus on repairing and nurturing my semi-damaged ends for a few weeks, and the results were major. See what happened when I quit heat styling my hair, ahead.
My shine came back
Every hairdresser I have ever had has told me that avoiding hot hair and heat from blow dryers and curling wands can promote shinier hair. While there have been times that I have blasted my strands with cool air post-blowout (and noticed the shine!), this is not something I did on the regular, usually because I was either too lazy or forgot. That being said, you don’t need to blast your strands with cool air to reap the benefits of avoiding heat. All you need to do is … well, avoid heat.
So, on the first day of my experiment, I decided to wash my hair and let it air dry. And let me tell you, the results were shocking. Once my hair dried, I noticed a significant change in the shininess of my strands. The only downside? My strands were frizzy. I usually combat the frizz with my curling iron, but since I was going au naturale for a few weeks, I reached for a lightweight dry oil spray (Verb Ghost Dry Oil ($16) to be exact) and it fixed my frizz almost immediately.
My ends looked healthier
Even though I’m constantly damaging my hair by heat styling, I always try to pay close attention to my ends and treat them to a weekly deep conditioning mask. That being said, sometimes it’s hard to tell a difference. While I was avoiding my curling wand at all costs, I decided it would be a good time to put one of my go-to hair masks to the test.
Enriched with nourishing — read: repairing — ingredients, the BRITE Organix Hair Masque for Split Ends ($12) not only smells amazing, it leaves ends looking healthier and stronger after use. I typically use this hair mask once or twice a week — depending on how frequently I wash my hair. I notice a difference when my hair is wet, but not so much after blow drying and straightening.
However, this time, I was able to reap its full benefits. I don’t know if it was the fact that my hair was not heat-styled or that I didn’t rush the application time, but after rinsing my hair and letting it dry, my ends actually looked healthier than they had before jumping in the shower.
My hair shed less
As someone with long hair, I shed a lot. It’s partially because I forget to brush my hair out (I’ve noticed I shed less when I brush my hair often) and partially because I have breakage on my ends. While this effect wasn’t exactly instant compared to the others I experienced, I noticed that by week three sans heat styling, I wasn’t shedding as much as I normally do. The breakage on my ends was still there (the best way to get rid of that is to trim your hair), but it stayed about the same (versus getting worse from more heat styling).
My hair felt softer
Between the heat styling and the hair spray, my hair rarely feels super soft. However, saying goodbye to my curling wand meant saying goodbye to hair spray (on days when I wore it down). And while I did add some texture sprays to my strands (to find out why, keep reading), my hair felt significantly softer than it did post-curling iron and hairspray rendezvous.
My color lasted longer
Another thing I noticed? My box dyed locks lasted much longer than usual. In addition to stripping your strands of shine, heat styling can strip your strands of color, too. While this doesn’t happen instantly, over time it can start to fade and dull the color. Without my curling iron, the color in my strands remained rich and vibrant throughout the weeks.
I finally learned how to style my waves … naturally
As I mentioned above, I have naturally wavy hair that is not quite the beachy waves I regularly go for. That being said, when you give up heat styling for a few weeks — and are sick of wearing your hair up in a topknot or pulled back in a braid — you are forced to figure out how to achieve perfect beachy waves, sans a curling wand.
Instead of curling my hair, I wore my hair in loose braids at night and styled them with both a sea salt spray — I love Rahua Enchanted Island Salt Spray ($32) — and the Glint Texture & Shine Spray from Arrojo ($28). These two sprays, combined with my freshly unbraided strands didn’t exactly mimic the same curls as my curling wand, but they enhanced my natural waves and gave my hair a super beachy, tousled look.
I switched up my style
In addition to learning how to wave my hair naturally, I also opted for some different hair styles. Typically, I always wear my hair down and wavy or on the top of my head in a knot. But, with less time spent heat styling, I was able to style my strands in more creative ways. I rocked two pigtail buns one day, a messy fishtail braid the next, and even wore my hair in a half ponytail a few times. Pro tip: Half ponies are a great way to add some extra volume to your strands. Just be sure to use a small crease-free rubber band!