Many things can damage your hair, chemicals, pulling, and heat from styling tools. Heat damage is a real issue, even things like blow-drying your hair can cause damage if the temperature is too high. It’s important to remember that just because heat can damage your hair it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will, but that statement comes with a caveat, in that is heat damage is permanent, so you’ll want to take precautions when using heat to style your hair.

How hair gets damaged from heat

The temperature that can damage your hair varies a bit depending on your hair type. Most hair can withstand temperatures at around 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176.6 degrees Celsius. Hair will start to melt at temperatures above 450 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius). The hair shaft is comprised of two (or three, depending on the hair type) parts, the cortex, cuticle, and medulla (not all hair types will have medulla). The cuticles are the outer most layer of the hair strand and are responsible for protecting the hair against dryness, and other forms of damage; think of it like your hairs natural armor. However, like any armor, if damaged it becomes ineffective. Heat tools can fry the hair cuticles. When this happens, the cortex may attempt to pull moisture from the air to compensate for the cuticle being fried resulting in a frizzy look— continuing to style damaged hair with heat tools will more damage and increase the likelihood of hair that is brittle and prone to breakage.

How to know your hair is heat damaged

If you style your hair with heat tools a lot, chances are you will notice the damage at your ends first. This is because the ends of your hair are the oldest and therefore exposed to more heat over time. If your hair is having trouble holding moisture, your hair may be damaged. Hair damaged in this manner will look dull and feel rougher than the hair closer to your scalp with little to no shine.

What to do if your hair is heat damaged

Heat damaged hair can be treated and prevented, but hair cannot heal. The unfortunate truth is that damaged hair needs to be cut if you want to get rid of it. If left unchecked split ends can worsen as the split can travel up the hair strand.

Ways to protect your hair from heat damage

Firstly, don’t apply heat tools directly to wet or damp hair (i.e., don’t touch the heat tool directly to your hair if your hair is wet). Wet hair is significantly more fragile than dry hair. The next thing you’ll want to do is limit the use of heat. Dry and style your hair using the lowest temperature possible to reduce the risk of damage. The tools you select to style and care for your hair will also have a tremendous impact on it. Select a blow-dryer that has a powerful airflow to minimize the amount of heat your hair is exposed to.  If you find that you need to go over your hair again with a heat tool that makes direct contact with your hair (like a flat iron or curling iron) allow your hair a couple of seconds to rest and reduce the heat for your second pass to minimize the risk of damage. For added protection, you can implement protein into your hair strands either by ingesting said protein or using a topical treatment. Lastly, you can use a heat protectant when styling your hair. The Vitalize Edge control contains a heat protectant that is thermally activated and increases in effectiveness as your hair is styled with heat tools.

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