All of us just love the ways our hair feels when we have freshly blow dried it or the silkiness and the lustrous shine after straightening or curling it. We all love to style our hair using different appliances and are confident enough to carry that style with grace. But do you notice your hair starting to get frizzier, thinner and lack hydration? Does heat cause damage to the hair?
The heat weakens or breaks the protein keratin which is responsible for the hair’s shape, and temporarily changes it. But it is difficult to know exactly at what level the heat can actually cause permanent damage.
The keratin in the hair is held together by hydrogen molecular bonds. These bonds are responsible for maintaining the natural shape of your hair. The bonds can be altered in two ways: by applying heat or by water. When these hydrogen bonds are altered, they allow the hair to be rearranged before the bonds return to their original shape.
Heat styling creates cracks in the protective cuticle layer of hair and makes it more vulnerable to damage from chemicals and sunlight. The excessive heat leads to the degradation of the cortex layer which results in dry, lackluster and frizzy hair. Exposing the hair to high temperatures sometimes causes the steam to be trapped in the hair, which leads to the loss of the cuticle layer which results in hair breakage.
Everyone’s hair is different and hence there is no exact temperature where the ironing becomes hair damage.
If you can’t give up your favorite styling iron, there are ways to minimize the damage
- Choosing the right type of iron:
It is important to select the iron that is made with a material that will do the least damage to the hair. The inexpensive irons are often made with metal that doesn’t heat evenly so it easily burns your hair.
The ceramic irons heat quickly and evenly. It may cost a little more but they are not likely to burn your hair. They also produce negative ions that will smooth the cuticle and boost shine. Make sure to use the iron that is made of ceramic and not just coated with ceramic as it will eventually wear off over time.
Tourmaline and titanium irons are usually expensive but they produce 6 times the amount of negative ions than the ceramic one. As a result, you are left with smooth, shiny, healthy looking hair.
- Dry your hair before styling:
It is important that you completely dry your hair before you use any type of iron on your hair. If you apply the heat to wet hair, it will literally boil the moisture out of the hair and cause some serious damage. Make sure to dry your hair before you pick up your iron.
It is best to dry your hair naturally before you style it because you will be applying heat to your hair. Using a blow dryer means that you will be treating your hair with a double dose of heat, which means double damage.
- Use a heat protectant:
Apply a heat protectant product through all your hair before using your curling or straightening iron so that it does not lose too much moisture from the heat. The hair protectant will coat your hair so that they don’t lose their natural moisture.
Use protectants that contain panthenol and propene glycol to lock the moisture and silicones such as amodimethicone and dimethicone to provide insulation from the heat.
For thin hair the best option is heat protectant spray, while an oil, cream or lotion based heat protectant is well suited for thick or coarse hair.
- Oil your hair:
After you wash your hair, apply hair oil to your cascades to keep them hydrated throughout the day.
For deep conditioning leave the oil onto your hair overnight. You can use coconut oil, olive oil or almond oils.
It is desirable to heat the oil before applying because warm oil penetrates the hair and scalp more easily and is more soothing too.
You can use this oil mask weekly to repair the damaged hair.
Just whip up a highly nourishing mask for intense hair repair by combining olive oil, bananas, honey and eggs. Apply this mixture onto the hair for 15-20 minutes and wash it off with lukewarm water.
This mask will replenish your dry and damaged strands.
- Deep conditioning:
Your daily conditioning works well but you need to deep condition your hair to re-boost the moisture and hydrate the hair.
Here are some ingredients you could use to condition your hair. Just apply them onto the hair for about 30 minutes and wash off to reveal soft and silky hair:
- Shea butter
- Tea tree oil
- Curd or yogurt
- Aloe Vera
- Olive oil
- Castor oil
You could also try mixing the ingredients together and using it.
For a deeper condition mix aloe Vera gel, coconut oil and honey together and apply the mask onto the hair. Rinse off well after 30 minutes.
- Go heatless:
For a while try styling your hair without the heat. For example, for curls, you could use the headband or simply braid your hair to make it naturally curled. This not only saves your hair from the heat damage but also gives you a natural look.
A best weekly routine to repair your hair is to oil them overnight before washing them and using the masks for weekly conditioning.
The masks available in the market may contain various chemicals, therefore, it is preferable to use homemade masks that are cheap, easily available and works like a charm.
Here are a few quick tips to remember for damage control:
- Oil your hair regularly
- Condition your hair regularly
- Use a moisturizing shampoo
- Dry your hair naturally
- Eat a healthy diet containing proteins
- Use heat protectants
- Don’t hesitate to bun up or tie up your hair
- Braid your hair loosely before sleeping.