By Ronnie Williams
Heat styling, while it speeds up glam-time and makes our hair gorgeous, can also do some serious damage.
Blow-Drying is one of the most horrible things you can do to your hair. The dry, direct heat removes not only surface water, but the water found inside the cuticle of the hair (water of hydration). Removing this water causes the cuticles to become dry, rigid and ultimately break off. Combing/Brushing during blow-drying intensifies this breakage. If you must blow dry, it is better to point the dryer downwards and lower the heat settings. Purchasing a unit with a “heat blast” option, such as the Tyche Ionic 2000 Turbo, is better than the constant heat.
Flat-Ironing and Curling with hot irons can cause breakage on the ends of hair cuticles. Flat-ironing wet hair causes small steam explosions in the hair follicle, causing hair blisters and breakage along the shaft.
Ceramic and Tourmaline models work better for blow dryers and irons because they aim to minimize the size of the water molecules (blow dryers) giving them less time to work and leaving your hair still hydrated. In curlers, the precise temperatures aid in prevention of burning hair or incorrect usage. Hair sticking to a flat iron/curler is a major problem and is a warning sign to dispose of, or thoroughly clean your tool(s). In ceramic and tourmaline models this is not an issue, although cleaning should not be overlooked.
Protection during heat processes is very important to reduce and prevent excessive breakage. Heat protection sprays help when using hot styling tools. Sprays containing Glycerin and Propylene Glycol, such as Tresemme Heat Tamer Spray, help because they retard water evaporation. Remember your hair needs water in the follicle to stay healthy. For those of us who flat-iron wet hair, you should be looking for Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Polysiloxane Copolymer in your products. This will work better than silicone alone because it will actually prevent the small steam explosions and eliminate blistering and cracking.
Protecting your hair from heat damage can also be done before the styling begins. Use shampoos/conditioners that activate and protect during heat styling, such as Matrix Sleek Look shampoo and conditioner. Conditioners containing centrimonium chloride, such as Sunsilk Heat Defends Cream, can be used either as a pair (with matching shampoo) or with your favorite shampoo.
Bi-monthly protein deep conditioners will also keep hair happy.
As an alternative to heat styling, try wet wraps and/or air drying. If you wish to speed up the process, wet wrap hair and cover with clear wrap. Hair can then be blow dried. Properly wrapping and securing hair at night or while in the house can also preserve hair styles and lessen the need for hot tools.
Use this chart to decide which setting to use for your heat tools.
Use this chart to decide which setting to use for your heat tools