What Heat Styling Does to Your Hair and How to Prevent It



The majority of us have used heat styling tools in our day-to-day lives.  Whether it’s a blow-dryer, a straightening wand, or a curling iron, these tools have become a part of our morning routine. We’ve all heard that these tools can be very damaging for our hair, but why is that?  In order to understand the damage heat causes on our hair, let’s first talk about how hair works.

How does hair work?

Hair goes through three stages in its lifespan.

The length and size of hair is determined during the fetus stage and goes through three stages of growth: the anagen stage (growing stage), catagen stage (transition stage), and telogen stage (resting stage). Hair grows from large sacs called follicles and is covered by a protective layer (or layers) called a cuticle (Chemical and Physical Behavior of Human Hair, 2012).

The layers of hair also include the cortex, the main body of hair, and the medulla, the central core. The cuticle and cortex determine your hair’s properties — such as if you have wavy or curly hair. However, the cuticle condition determines how your hair looks outwardly (Hair Smoothing and Protection Treatment, 2012).

How does heat cause damage?

So, how do heat styling tools affect the hair and cause damage?

The main cause of hair damage from these tools is the extreme heat used by these tools. As can be expected, the more often you use these tools, the more prevalent the damage in your hair will be. Heat causes a severe loss of moisture in hair, and it also softens the keratin — a natural protein in your hair.

Blow drying and hair straightening lead to dry, brittle cuticles. These cuticles then crack which causes the damage that we see (The Beauty Brains, 2012). If you are using these tools on wet hair, the water can begin to boil, causing bubbles to form steam- which can lead to a total break of the hair (Happi, 2012).

What can I do to prevent damage? 

orofluidoThere are plenty of products on the market now to help prevent this type of heat damage (Empire Beauty).  These products provide a protective layer over the hair and strengthen the natural bonds. Something like Orofluido Hair Elixir ($18.99, amazon.com) with argan, Cyprus, and linseed oil.

[Read More: Courtney Cox’s Hair Secret: Orofluido Review]

revlonIn addition, be sure that you are not using a straightening or curling iron on wet hair and allow hair to air dry whenever possible. Consider investing in good products like the Revlon Ionic Ceramic Dryer ($14.99, amazon.com). chi_flatironIonic dryers work by breaking down water molecules quickly, speeding up drying time. Or use even heating ceramic straighteners such as Farouk Chi Ceramic Hair Styling Flat Iron ($73.03, amazon.com).

However, once hair has been damaged, it cannot heal itself. The hair will have to be cut and new hair allowed to grow in.

Bottom Line

Heat styling tools, though we may feel they are necessary, can be severely damaging to our hair.  The tools cause a lack of moisture in the hair cuticle, which causes breakage and the damage that we see. Whenever possible it is best to let your hair air dry, and then use a specially formulated product on your hair to help prevent further damage from straightening or curling.

Post by Sarah Stright-Hartley

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