How to Protect Your Hair From Heat Styling Damage

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Pretty woman styling her hair with a curling iron

Heat styling damage is a very real problem. Most women have watched the occasional hair tutorial fail that involved a hot curling iron and hair breakage. These seem like extreme cases, but they can happen to anyone. Even if your hair doesn’t completely fall off, heat damage can affect it in a big way.

How Does Heat Damage Hair?

Healthy hair isn’t completely dry. When you apply a high temperature, it can cause dehydration in the strands. This loss of moisture eliminates a core support structure that your strands need to stay strong.

Heat causes water to evaporate, which changes intermolecular interactions. The result is hair that feels like straw and may not sit on your head the same way it once did. It can also cause frizz or, in extreme cases, breakage.

Another issue caused by sudden, high heat is a boiling effect. Rapid loss of moisture causes water to flash off, or boil. When this happens, it forms microscopic voids that look like bubbles in the strand. These create weaknesses that can burst through the cuticle and cause split ends or breakage. This type of damage is irreparable, so it is best to avoid it.

Heat styling tools can soften keratin in your strands, which causes thermal degradation. Pigments in hair can also oxidize, which leads to color fading. Oxidization tends to be more noticeable in hair that is light brunette, auburn, or red.

Should I Stop Using Heated Hair Styling Tools?

It is best to minimize the amount of heat you use to style your hair as much as possible. While less is better, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite styling tools.

Instead, make sure you are using them correctly and safely. First, choose a high-quality tool, preferably one that uses ceramic or titanium. Titanium heats up and transfers heat faster than ceramic. Ceramic heats evenly for better distribution with a lower burn risk.

Size should also be considered. Find a tool that is suitable based on your hair thickness, length, and style preferences. For example, a large iron may be needed for long, thick hair, and a smaller tool could be used on a shorter cut. A narrower iron can create tighter curls, and a wider one will give your hair bigger waves.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use. It is best to divide your locks into sections with hair clips before you start. Work on one section at a time. This is especially important when using tools like hair straighteners. Working with equally sized sections will allow you to apply even heat and get better results.

Everyone’s hair is different, so you should consult a professional stylist to learn more about the best way to handle your hair.

How to Protect Your Hair from Heat Damage

There are other ways you can shield your hair from heat damage. The following list will help you build a solid beauty regimen that will keep your strands looking vibrant and healthy.

  • Use a Good Heat Protectant – A heat protectant should be used before styling. Find a product that contains humectants like propylene glycol or panthenol and silicones like dimethicone or amodimethicone. This will seal in moisture and serve as a shield when you heat style your hair. Make sure the product is thoroughly worked through your strands before you get started. A spray works well with fine or thin hair. Oils and creams are better suited for thick or coarse hair.
  • Use a Low Hair Dryer Setting – Hair dryers can cause damage as well. This is a tool that many women use daily, so it’s essential to do it correctly. Use a low setting, preferably the lowest the tool offers. For thicker hair, divide wet strands into sections and dry one at a time. Blow drying downwards can help smooth straight hair. You can use a diffuser at the root while holding ends away for curly hair.
  • Pay Attention to Tool Temperature – Check the temperature on styling tools before using them. Some can get very hot, usually ranging from 175 degrees F to 400 degrees F. Start with the lowest setting and see if that works for you. Thicker hair may require a higher setting. Gradually work your way up until you find the lowest temperature that will get the job done.
  • Only Iron Your Hair Once – Only use a curling iron once on your hair per styling session. Avoid going back over strands you have already curled. This will help lower stress on your strands.
  • Give Your Hair a Heat Styling Break – Take a heat styling break at least once per week. More often is better if you can manage it. That means no blow dryer, straightener, curling iron, or other heated tool is used for at least a 24-hour period. This allows your hair to recover and will help reduce long-term damage.
  • Deep Condition Once a Week – Use a deep conditioner once a week after shampooing. This should be left on anywhere from five to 30 minutes, based on the product’s instructions. Rinse it out with cool water. You can also try a product that can be left on overnight for deeper conditioning.
  • Trim Ends to Remove Old Damage – Schedule regular trims to remove existing damage. It looks better and helps keep your strands healthy. Old split ends or breakage will affect the appearance and texture of hair.
  • Use a Reparative Cream If Needed – Reparative creams are leave-in products that boost texture and appearance. A quality product contains a high concentration of sealants that penetrate the shaft and protect against damage. Cream can restore shine in hair that is dehydrated and safeguard from future heat damage.

Protect Your Hair from Heat Damage

If you notice split ends, dryness, excessive shedding, or a lack of shine or luster, then you may have heat damage. Even if your hair looks perfect, you should take steps to protect it from high temperatures. A professional stylist can provide advice and product recommendations based on the unique needs of your hair. Contact Tiffany Taylor today to learn more about protecting your hair from heat damage.