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25th Jan 2024

The do’s and don’ts of hair styling to avoid damage, according to trichologists

Sophie Collins

Hair styling - heat

I’m determined to improve the quality of my hair this year, but I’m not giving up my steampod…

According to hair experts at Power Your Curls you don’t have to give up the heat styling in order to improve your locks.

It’s all down to your hair texture and how much heat it can take without causing breakage.

As always, the golden rule remains: make sure your hair is 100% dry before using a straightener or curling wand on it.

Heat from hairdryers, straighteners, curling irons, and other styling tools can affect the hair in many ways such as texture, moisture content, hair health, and scalp.

Dr. Faisal Ahmed Hammadi, a trichologist at PowerYourCurls, said different hair textures can be affected depending on the heat, but applying too much heat can especially be damaging for thin hair, which is less resistant against higher temperatures.

“Other effects from heat are colour change, cuticle damage, and altering the proteins such as keratin. By altering keratin, it will weaken the natural structure of the hair,” said Dr. Hammadi.

“If the styling tools are not used wisely, the hair is exposed to high temperatures of heat styling tools can open up the cuticle, which will allow natural moisture to escape from the hair. This will make it prone to damage,” he added.

Common mistakes we make using styling tools

Hairstylist, Gwenda Harmon, said some styling mistakes are using high heat for curling irons and blow dryers.

“To reduce the damage, you can style it with a curling iron or straightening iron when the hair is completely dried,” said Harmon.

Harmon said not knowing the right temperature for each texture will also damage the hair. 

“Depending on the type such as for thick hair, the ideal temperature is from 205–230 °C, for fine or thin hair, 120–170 °C is ideal,” Harmon pointed out.

It is also not ideal to blow dry your hair straight from the shower, said Dr. Faisal. 

“This is a common practice for people who are in a hurry but this can make the hair extremely dry because it is advisable to let the hair air-dry for about an hour before you can style it,” Dr. Faisal explained.

“It will make the hair fried if you iron it or curl it with high temperature whilst it is still wet.”

Another interesting fact is that your hair should be healthy and free from impurities when using heat styling tools because dirty hair can be damaged more easily. 

“It would also end up becoming fried and prone to frizz. It will also break easily. It is advisable to trim the dead ends before using heated tools,” said Harmon.

Heat protectants

When the hair is unprotected from heat damage whilst styling, Dr. Hammadi said it can alter the colour and worse, it can even permanently damage the layer of hair.

This is where the heat protectants come in. Harmon said heat protectants can help protect the hair from severe hair damage whilst using styling tools.

“It’s like a film or a primer that encourages smooth and shiny hair. It works by decelerating heat conduction and distributing the heat more evenly,” said Harmon.

Harmon said you can apply enough to evenly coat the hair including the strands, roots, and ends.

“If it is overdone, the hair will be weighed down. Make sure to choose a lighter-weight heat protectant,” Harmon pointed out.

Heat protectants can come in sprays or oils and one product you can use is Frizzlock Complex, which is a vegan product that is paraben-free and sulfate-free, Harmon recommended.

For heat protectant sprays, Dr. Hammadi also recommended Redken Quick Blowout Heat Protection Spray, which can nourish and add shine to the hair whilst protecting it from extreme heat from styling.

Harmon also suggested getting Kérastase, a leave-in treatment that can serve as a barrier from heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit whilst repairing and reviving damaged hair.

“It is also effective in preventing breakage and promoting shine. It is also perfect for all types of hair such as straight, wavy, curly, and coily,” said Harmon.

How often can someone use styling tools

Using heat styling tools can be done every day but it’s important to know that different textures can or cannot withstand heat temperatures from styling tools.

Some hair textures can withstand heat daily at above 450 degrees. However, Dr. Hammadi still advised against styling the hair every day. He advised practising thermal styling once a week.

“It is important to let your hair recover after every styling session to reduce the risk of heat damage,” said Hammadi.

Harmon said if it cannot be avoided, two or three times a week can also be advised when using styling tools.