We all know that heat tools can be extremely harmful to our hair and cause lasting damage, especially if we fail to use them correctly. But did you know that there are actually a few simple steps you can take to prevent heat damage from hot tools?
In this blog post, we’re going to discuss the various tips and techniques for avoiding over-heating of your favorite styling tools and creating salon-quality results in the comfort of your own home.
How does heat damage hair?
Heat from hot tools like blow dryers, flat irons, and curling irons can be a major culprit of damaged hair.
Now, the first thing you need to know is, when heat is applied, the natural oils are stripped from your hair, which would eventually make them dry and brittle.
Temperatures over 300°F change the protein structure of your hair, leaving it more prone to damage as it has lost its elasticity. Heat damaged hair loses elasticity because applying heat on a regular basis affects the hair’s ability to retain moisture. And curly hair worsens over time causing it to lose its natural curl pattern.
Very sadly, when the keratin bonds are melted by the high temperatures, they cannot be reversed.
Additionally, exposure to high temperatures cause the water molecules to evaporate much quicker than normal.
This causes cracks in the cuticles – the outer layer of hair – making it even more susceptible to breakage and other damage.
Understanding how heat affects your locks is key to preventing further damage and protecting them for a healthier future.
Tips for Avoiding Heat-Damaged Hair
1. Use Heat Protectant
Heat protectants can help by forming a barrier between your hair and the styling tool. When applied properly before using any heat tools, the product will reduce your hair’s exposure to direct heat, although it won’t necessarily prevent all damage. Remember to use heat protectant every time you use heat tools and invest in quality products that are designed for your hair type.
2. Use Lower Temperatures
It’s tempting to reach for that “high” heat setting when styling your hair, but this is almost always a mistake. The high temperatures can cause irreparable heat damage — no matter how much heat protectant you apply!
While temperatures can vary based on your hair type and texture, always start with the lowest temperature setting and work your way up if necessary. And never go over 400°F regardless of your hair type or texture, as this could permanently damage your tresses.
Also, try to limit the amount of time the hot tool is in contact with your hair too.
For thin or fine hair types, set the dryer on medium. Thicker and more coarse hair may require a high setting.
Whatever the texture of your hair is, always keep the dryer moving to evenly distribute the heat and avoid concentrating too much heat on one area.
And, when your hair is about 80% dry, switch over to the cool shot to shut the cuticle down and create more shine.
Try to let your hair air dry whenever possible.
If your flat iron features a temperature control setting, it’s easy to dial down the heat depending on your hair type.
For fragile and fine hair, look for temperature settings between 250° and 300° F. For normal hair textures, up the temperature to 350°F. And for thicker, coarse hair types, go all the way up to 400°F – just be sure not to overdo it!
The temperature settings and hair type classifications are the same for both curling and flat irons.
For those wishing for tighter curls, use smaller sections. Smaller sections also mean less heat is needed, so you can reduce the temperature setting accordingly.
And if it’s looser curls you’re after, work larger sections and you can add a little more heat.
It’s important not to hold an iron in one spot on your hair too long either; aim for 8 to 10 seconds max before continuously moving along.
3. Take Care of Damp Hair
You’ve probably heard that sizzling sound as you passed the flat iron over your damp hair. Unfortunately, just like the sound implies, this is a big no-no for maintaining healthy locks.
Your hair is in it’s most fragile state while its wet. This is why it’s important to be sure that your hair is 100 percent dry before using a traditional flat iron. No moisture left behind. Even heat protectants can’t prevent the damage caused by heat-styling wet strands.
If you don’t have time to dry your hair completely, it’s best to opt for other methods like braiding or creating low buns instead of heat styling.
But, there is one exception: wet-to-dry flat irons.
They come equipped with steam vents that safely remove water from damp hair and create smooth styles while protecting strands from breakage.
However, it’s important to note that these tools should be used on almost dry (but still slightly damp) hair – about 80% dry!
4. Practice Heatless Styling
If you want to play it safe, opt for heatless styling instead. There are plenty of heatless styling techniques you can use to create fun and beautiful looks.
Try overnight braids, twists, or buns. If you want curls, use foam rollers or velcro rollers instead of a curling iron. The sleek and textured look can also be achieved without heat by using styling creams, gels, or mousses.
And don’t forget the wonderful world of accessories either. Scarves, headbands, hats, and clips can all be used to create unique hairstyles without managing a single tool.
5. Take Breaks Between Styling
You care deeply about your hair, and it’s time to give it the love it deserves by taking breaks in between heat styling sessions.
Stepping away from heat styling is the perfect opportunity to free your hair of damaging agents and allow it a chance to detox, rejuvenate, and become healthier.
6. Don’t Use Hair Oil Before heat styling
Heating your hair with oil will not help preserve or protect it – it’ll just fry it like chips in the pan.
Applying oil after you’ve heat processed your hair is much better for preserving moisture and preventing damage from heat styling.
7. Choose your tools wisely
Make sure that the tool you are using is the correct size and type for your hair type.
Heat styling can be damaging to your hair if it’s not done correctly. Taking the proper steps to avoid heat damage can ensure that you have healthy, happy hair for years to come. Be sure to invest in quality products and use them properly.
Sources: How does heat damage hair?