Does Heat Styling Damage Hair: Myths and Facts

Last update: Jul 6, 2017 20:48, April Williams

Heated styling is a long-lasting fixation of hair in a certain desired form. This process involves using methods with a temperature that is hotter than the air. These include the use of a blow dryer, curling and flat irons, hot rollers, a hair straightener brush.

It is, of course, a great invention. With its help, you can shape and volume any hair type, even the weakest, thinnest, and sparse.

heat hair styling

In this article, we will consider everything related to heat styling. That is:

  1. Types of Heated Hair Styling
  2. What Happens to the Hair During Heat Styling?
  3. Is Heat Styling Bad for Hair?
  4. How to Avoid Harmful Effects?
  5. Myths and Facts about Heated Styling

Types of Heated Hair Styling

There are different types of heated styling:

  • Hooded dryer
  • Blow dryer
  • Curling and flat irons
  • Hot rollers
  • Straightening brushes

Hooded Dryer

hooded hair dryer

This kind of dryer looks like a warming helmet, under which the head is placed. Until recently, it was used only in beauty salons, but now there are new types of hooded dryers for at-home use. It is the safest method of heat styling since it does not in contact with the hair directly — it works at a distance of 10-20 cm.

Blow Dryer

black blow dryer

Blow drying or hot air styling can be performed on the hair of almost any length. Therefore, it is used for drying and creating not only women’s hairstyles but men’s hairstyles as well. However, a blow dryer is the best on the hair that is at least 4-6 cm long. It should only be used on clean hair. If the roots are dirty, it is impossible to lift them.

Curling and Flat Irons

Curling and flat ironing are one of the simplest and most effective methods. You may think that the use of these devices may only provide you with smooth flowing locks, however, this is not so as the use of a curling tong or flat iron can give you bouncy curls and style bangs quickly.

two in one curling and straightening iron

If you want to not only straighten, but also to wind the hair, choose rounded flat irons, which will allow you to curl. The plates of this device must be heated throughout.

The size of curls depends on the thickness of the lock and the temperature of the iron. If you want to make smaller curls, take very thin locks and vice versa. At a temperature of 180 C, you will get very tight curls; if the temperature is even a little lower, you will get slightly wavy curls. The main advantage of curling and flat irons is that they are suitable for any hair length.

Hot Rollers

Hot rollers are of the same form as the usual rollers. They are made of hair-friendly materials — soft plastic with a paraffin rod inside. Hot rollers may be of any diameter; usually, they are sold in a kit form on a special stand.

hot rollers in special box

Unlike curling irons, hot rollers do not cause severe damage to the hair, do not burn and do no overdry it. To this, the curls after using hot rollers are very durable, compared to the use of a usual curling iron.

Hot rollers styling procedure takes no longer than 15 minutes. The hair must be dry or slightly damp. With this tool, you can create any hairstyle — from small curls to soft, natural, wavy locks. It will look natural and flexible.

Straightening Brushes

As for its shape and design, a straightening brush is very similar to an ordinary hairbrush. However, it works in a different way. It straightens your hair quickly, but it does not overdry it. After using it, you can preserve a good condition of your hair. Other benefits of hair straightening brushes include how easy it is to use, it’s relatively cheap, and the safety of the tool.

Luma hair straightening brush

The material of the brush bristles should be either natural or mixed. Then the hair will not be negatively affected. Using of hair straightener, you will achieve a perfect smoothness in just 10 minutes.

From the entire list of heat styling methods, straightening brushes are the most harmless.

What Happens to the Hair During Heat Styling?

There are about 100,000 hair follicles on the head, and each hair has a complicated structure. Its shaft consists of three layers: inner (medulla), middle (cortex), and outer (cuticle).

Inner or medulla layer contains a special substance — keratin, an essential protein, thanks to which our hair is shiny, elastic, and smooth.

The cortex layer is responsible for the flexibility of the hair; it also contains melanin — the pigment that gives it a certain color.

The cuticle (outer layer) has a protective barrier function. Its condition directly affects the overall health of the hair.

If you look at a strand of hair through a microscope, you will see that the cuticle resembles a roof-like tile. Like the purpose of a roof, the cuticle protects each hair from external influences. The closer the cuticle is adjacent to the hair shaft, the more healthy, elastic, and the less likely to it is to break.

We always try to save time and we are always in a hurry. So, we often make a terrible mistake, drying and styling it right after washing, though it is necessary to wait at least 15-20 minutes. Why?

The cuticle “scales” in wet hair are more opened or raised. Therefore, the heat during drying causes damage and breakage of cuticle fragments. As a result, the hair shaft becomes more thin and fragile due to the cuticle damage and the cortex substance becomes more vulnerable to various chemical and physical factors (like chlorinated water). Gradually, protein keratin, which makes up 85-90% of the total hair weight, thermally degrades.

Unfortunately, we cannot completely abandon drying and styling nowadays. So, here is a simple rule — the less, the better. Try to give your hair a rest from the thermal procedures on the weekend. You may also try to wash it not in the morning before work, but in the evening, to avoid the morning drying.

Is Heated Styling Bad for Hair?

Of course, not everyone is able to afford not styling their hair. Due to busy lifestyles and a common lack of time, heated styling has become a very popular method of making hair look beautiful efficiently.

Due to the constant contact with hot surfaces, hot, dry or moist air, the protective keratin layer of hair degrades, the nutrients are lost, and virtually every hair becomes rough and gets split ends. Accordingly, the whole hair looks dry and dull, it becomes hard to style, and it requires various softening balms.

Nevertheless, a complete abandoning of heat styling is not necessary. We’ll show you how to avoid this procedure’s harmful effects on your hair with some simple and easy methods.

How to Avoid Harmful Effects?

You cannot completely eliminate the harmful effects of heated styling; however, they can be minimized with the help of professional cosmetics. Undertake these tips in order maintain healthy hair:

  1. Make heated styling no more than 2 — 3 times a week. This will save the beauty of hair and also help you diversify your usual look at the expense of other hairstyles.
  2. Use only high-quality styling tools with a special protective coating. It is worth paying attention to professional devices, especially if you style your hair on a daily basis.
  3. Before the procedure, apply special heat-protective agents (rinse out and leave-in). Choosing such cosmetics, consider the individual characteristics of your hair.
  4. Dry carefully, use a blow dryer at a distance of 30cm. Drying wet hair leads to overheating, burns and, accordingly, to its destruction.
  5. Hide your hair under headwear on sunny days.

Myths and Facts about Heated Hair Styling

Hair styling is covered with many legends and myths. We will try to help you understand the truth!

Myth 1: Hair Styling Cosmetics Should Only be of a Professional Salon Type

FACT: It is not that important what kind of cosmetics you use during heated styling. It’s the result you get that is important. This rule holds true for any hair care cosmetic products. Some people like super expensive professional mousse and some are crazy about a cheap product that is purchased at the local pharmacy — everything is individual. Something that works for someone might not work for another and something that doesn’t work for someone might work for another person. But there are some general recommendations when it comes to choosing hair cosmetics. First, pay attention to the ingredients. The closer the beneficial ingredients (natural extracts, argan oil, silk protein, and so on) are to the end of the list, the less is their content is in the product. So, their benefits are less significant.

Myth 2: The More Styling Products, the Better

FACT: We tend to think that any self-respecting girl should have at least five-ten different styling products in her collection. These range from hairsprays, texturizing sprays, leave-in conditioners, waxes, and foams… However, proper styling requires only one product that is two or three comb strokes. A necessary basic product is a hair spray, and it should be used only when you need a long fixation. You may also add styling cream or mousse to your collection, which is suitable for your hair texture (straight, wavy, or curly). This product will make your locks more manageable. Ideally, products you have should be able to protect your hair during heated styling or walking under the sun, while moisturizing and nourishing it.

Myth 3: You Should Just use an Ordinary Comb

FACT: In fact, any combing can harm your hair, as the comb may break the ends or tear your hair right from the root. Use wooden or soft professional combs or brushes. Another option is straightening or hot brushes. These brushes detangle and straighten at the same time with almost no harm.

Myth 4: You Should Apply a Lot of Hair Products

FACT: To make your hairstyle look magnificent, do not overdo it with styling products. Do not apply them to the roots, and be sure to rinse conditioners and masks out thoroughly (their remains make the hair heavier). Choose products with collagen, keratin, amino acids, or light silicones (like dimethicone or cyclomethycaine). They envelop all the hairs in a very thin film, thereby making them thicker and adding volume.

Myth 5: Hair Styling Can be Done Without Heat Protectants

FACT: Do not cling to illusions in regard to heated hair styling — all types are harmful to your hair, to this or that extent. Before heated styling or using a blow dryer, be sure to apply a heat protectant. Improper use of styling devices often causes hair damage. A simple example: if you overexpose a hair lock to the directed jet of very hot air for a couple of seconds, it will be burned. Burned and over dried hair immediately becomes more brittle and fragile, it begins to lose lipids and its basic building material — ceramides.

Overall, hot styling is a popular, fast, but not 100% safe way to style. If you will not use it not too often and follow our recommendations, your hair will always be good-looking and healthy. Always stay beautiful!

2 comment(s)

  1. My hair is extremely damaged from years of straightening with flat irons and not caring for my hair at all throughout my early teenage years. My hair feels like my little Sisters Barbie dolls hair or horse hair. I want to repair the damage I have done, I want soft, fresh hair, like what I had before all the heat damage. I can admit, I wasn’t using any heat protection and quite often I didn’t even brush it before clamping my hair together with my flat iron! – Terrible I know; does anyone have any suggestions?

  2. Ok, don’t panic; there are some ways to repair and treat your hair. The first thing you can do to make it look better and restore its body is to get a trim; you don’t have to get a super short cut if that’s not for you, you can leave some length and treat the remaining damaged hair. You should follow a care regimen for damaged hair, including the use of a restorative shampoo, conditioner and styling products. Whenever possible let your hair dry naturally, don’t blow dry; if you need to, use the lowest heat setting. For now, you should avoid coloring your hair especially with harsh chemicals like bleach. Treatment masks can also help rescue your hair. Also if you are going to continue styling your hair with heat, opt for a safer option such as a hair straightening brush as they definitely don’t have the capacity to damage hair as flat irons do. If you are bold enough to chop it all off to a short bob or pixie cut then, by all means, do that, it will give you the possibility to start fresh and undo all the damage at once. I wish you the best of luck.

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