Blow dryers, flat irons, curling irons, hot rollers…. it’s no denying many of us rely heavily on these hair tools for daily styling. Although extremely convenient, they can also cause a lot of damage to both straight and curly hair. Besides breakage and frizziness, people with curly hair may also experience changes in hair pattern/texture as a result of heat styling. Whether you’re currently dealing with heat damaged hair or you’re trying to avoid it, read on for a few tips on how you can help your hair.
Preventing Heat Damage
- Start with clean, well-conditioned hair. Since certain styling products can weigh hair down and even cause it to burn, always start with clean hair no matter what type of heat you’re applying to your hair. You should also make sure your hair is well-conditioned and moisturized. The best way to add moisture to your hair is by deep conditioning it and applying a leave-in conditioner.
- Protect your hair from the heat. A good heat protectant is your best line of defense against heat damage. Not only does it protect your hair from frying, it also adds shine, and replenishes some of the moisture your hair loses from styling — thus preventing breakage and frizzing. Although there are countless heat protectants on the market to choose from, here are a few that get rave reviews: Aussie Hair Insurance Heat Protecting Shine Spray, It’s A 10 Miracle Leave-in Product, John Frieda Frizz-Ease Hair Serum Thermal Protection Formula, Creme of Nature Argan Oil Perfect 7, and Tresemmé Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray. If you’d prefer a natural heat protectant, many people swear by grape-seed oil because of its high smoke point of about 400 degrees.
- Invest in good heat styling tools. You don’t have to buy the most expensive tools on the market, but do make sure your tools at least have multiple heat settings for different hair types. As for flat irons and curling irons, choose one that is 100% ceramic, or ceramic with titanium/tourmaline. Ceramic irons are more gentle on hair because they produce negative ions that seal hair follicles to preserve moisture, and leave hair shinier and smoother.
- Choose the right temperature setting. When it comes to styling your hair, hotter and faster isn’t always better. Instead of turning your blow dryer or iron to the highest setting, start with a lower temperature, then apply more heat as necessary. Some parts of your hair may require less heat than other parts, which can result in heat damage if you use a one-setting-fits-all approach. For instance, the root and middle section of your hair may require more heat if it’s thicker or curlier, while the ends may require less heat if they’re thinner or straighter.
Recovering from Heat Damage
- Give yourself a hot oil treatment. Warm a few of your favorite oils, such as extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and Jojoba oil, and apply them to your hair. Cover hair with a plastic cap and allow it to stay on for about 30 minutes. Hot oil treatments are typically done before shampooing to restore moisture to the hair and scalp, and add body.
- Wash your hair. The best way to see how much heat damage your hair has suffered is to revert it back to its natural state with a little warm water. I recommend washing your hair with a sulfate-free shampoo to avoid stripping it any further.
- Deep condition your hair. Damaged hair requires a lot of moisture and protein. Apply a deep conditioner to your hair, cover it with a plastic cap and allow it to stay on for about 30 minutes.Use a deep conditioner after every shampooing to strengthen and revitalize your hair. The same goes for a leave-in conditioner.
- Get a trim. If your hair has suffered too much heat damage, cutting off those damaged ends may be the only way to get your hair healthy again. Although you may not want to cut your hair, keeping dead, damaged hair on your head will continue to cause breakage and prevent you from retaining length in the long run. If you plan to trim your own hair, use cutting shears instead of regular scissors.
- Seal your ends. The ends of your hair are the oldest and most fragile part of your hair. Whether you’ve trimmed your ends or not, you should always seal them with your favorite oil or serum to protect them and prevent further breakage.
- Give your hair a break. Until the health of your hair is restored, treat it with extra care. Avoid using heat styling tools and chemicals on your hair, if possible. Wearing your hair in its natural state or a protective style makes the transition a lot easier.