Heat styling is a popular way to achieve different looks and styles for your hair. Whether you want to straighten, curl, or wave your hair, using heat tools can help you get the desired results. However, heat can also cause damage to your hair, making it dry, brittle, and prone to breakage. In this blog post, we will share some tips on how to protect your hair from heat damage and breakage, based on the latest research and expert advice.
What causes heat damage and breakage?
Heat damage occurs when the high temperature of the heat tools alters the structure and integrity of your hair proteins, especially keratin. Keratin is the main component of your hair that gives it strength and elasticity. When keratin is damaged by heat, your hair becomes weaker, more porous, and less able to retain moisture. This leads to frizz, split ends, dullness, and loss of curl or wave pattern.
Breakage happens when your hair strands snap or fall off due to excessive stress or tension. Heat styling can cause breakage by weakening your hair cuticle, which is the outermost layer of your hair that protects it from external factors. When your cuticle is damaged by heat, your hair becomes more vulnerable to mechanical damage from brushing, combing, or styling. It also becomes more susceptible to environmental damage from sun exposure, pollution, or humidity.
How to prevent heat damage and breakage?
The best way to prevent heat damage and breakage is to avoid using heat tools as much as possible. However, if you still want to use them occasionally, here are some tips on how to minimize the risks:
- Use a clarifying shampoo every 3rd or 4th wash. A clarifying shampoo can help remove any buildup of dirt, oil, or product residue from your hair and scalp. This can improve the health and appearance of your hair and make it easier to style with less heat.
- Invest in superior quality styling tools. Choose a straightening or curling iron that is made of ceramic, tourmaline, or titanium. These materials can heat up evenly and quickly, reducing the chances of burning or overheating your hair23. Also look for an iron that has a digital temperature control so that you can adjust it according to your hair type and condition.
- Set your tools to the right temperature. The ideal temperature for heat styling depends on your hair texture and thickness. In general, temperatures ranging from 175 °F (79 °C) to 400 °F (204 °C) will work for most hair types. Start at the lowest setting and gradually increase it if needed. Avoid going above 400 °F (204 °C) as this can cause irreversible damage to your hair.
- Avoid subjecting your hair to heat for too long. The longer you expose your hair to heat, the more damage you can cause. Try to limit each section of your hair to no more than 3-5 seconds of contact with the iron. Also avoid going over the same section more than once or twice. If possible, use a timer or a stopwatch to keep track of how long you are styling your hair.
- Always apply a heat protectant before heat styling. A heat protectant is a product that can coat your hair with a protective layer that can reduce the amount of heat transferred to your hair cuticle. It can also help lock in moisture and prevent frizz. Look for a heat protectant that contains both humectants (like panthenol and propylene glycol) and silicones (like amodimethicone and dimethicone). Depending on your hair type, you can choose a spray, oil, cream, or lotion form of heat protectant.
- Nourish your hair with weekly hair masks. A hair mask is a deep-conditioning treatment that can replenish the moisture and nutrients that your hair loses due to heat styling. It can also help repair any existing damage and restore shine and softness. Look for a hair mask that is rich in moisturizing ingredients, such as shea butter, argan oil, coconut oil, avocado, or aloe vera. Apply it to your hair after shampooing and leave it on for 10-20 minutes before rinsing it off.
- Try no-heat hairstyles. There are many ways to style your hair without using any heat tools. For example, you can create waves by braiding your hair when it is damp and letting it dry overnight. You can also use rollers, pins, clips, or headbands to create curls or volume. Experiment with different no-heat hairstyles and see what works for you.
How to repair heat damage and breakage?
If your hair is already damaged or broken by heat, don’t worry. There are still some things you can do to improve its condition and appearance. Here are some tips on how to repair heat damage and breakage:
- Trim your hair regularly. The most effective way to get rid of split ends and breakage is to cut them off. Visit a professional hairstylist and ask for a trim every 6-8 weeks. This can help prevent further damage and keep your hair healthy and manageable.
- Use a protein treatment once a month. A protein treatment is a product that can penetrate your hair shaft and replenish the keratin that is lost due to heat damage. It can also help strengthen your hair and prevent future breakage. Look for a protein treatment that contains hydrolyzed proteins, such as keratin, silk, wheat, or soy. Apply it to your hair after shampooing and leave it on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing it off.
- Use a leave-in conditioner daily. A leave-in conditioner is a product that can moisturize your hair and protect it from environmental factors throughout the day. It can also help detangle your hair and reduce frizz. Look for a leave-in conditioner that suits your hair type and needs. For example, if you have fine/thin hair, choose a lightweight spray or mist. If you have thick/coarse hair, choose a heavier cream or oil.
- Use natural oils to seal in moisture and add shine. Natural oils, such as coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, or almond oil, can help nourish your hair and seal in the moisture that is lost due to heat styling. They can also help smooth your cuticle and add shine and softness to your hair. Apply a few drops of oil to your damp or dry hair, focusing on the ends and avoiding the roots.
Heat styling can be fun and convenient, but it can also cause damage and breakage to your hair if done incorrectly or excessively. To protect your hair from heat damage and breakage, follow these tips:
- Use a clarifying shampoo every 3rd or 4th wash
- Invest in superior quality styling tools
- Set your tools to the right temperature
- Avoid subjecting your hair to heat for too long
- Always apply a heat protectant before heat styling
- Nourish your hair with weekly hair masks
- Try no-heat hairstyles
To repair heat damage and breakage, follow these tips:
- Trim your hair regularly
- Use a protein treatment once a month
- Use a leave-in conditioner daily
- Use natural oils to seal in moisture and add shine
By following these tips, you can enjoy heat styling without compromising the health and beauty of your hair.