How to Protect Your Hair From Heat Damage

Written by Advice Team on November 4, 2015

We all wish it wasn’t true but it’s an unfortunate beauty fact - exposure to heat is bad for your hair and prolonged and frequent use of heated appliances will cause brittleness, breakage and dryness.

If you damage just an inch of your ends it can take up to 3 months for your hair to get back to normal so it’s worth taking steps now to avoid the need for a severe shearing later. It’s a good idea to give your hair a day off and go au-natural a few times a week but there are also some steps you can take to minimise the damage when you do reach for the straighteners.

Invest in Good Tools When it comes to hair styling tools you’re spoilt for choice. There is a huge range of heated appliances by a wide range of brands at all different price points, from budget to professional. Generally the higher the price tag the better the tool - stronger air flow, hotter plates, more power - so it’s worth investing as much as you can afford, but it’s not all about price, look for features and attachments too.

It’s best to go for tools that offer a range of temperature settings and then use the lowest setting you can to achieve the result you want in order to minimise heat damage. Everyone’s hair is different and the best temperature for you will depend on your hair type, texture and thickness. Generally the finer your hair the lower the temperature needs to be but have a play and see what works for you and your style.

When it comes to hair drying, chose a dryer with a nozzle attachment to direct airflow and a diffuser to help distribute heat more evenly. These tools make it quicker and easier to dry your hair and less time means less heat exposure and less damage.

Protection is Better than Cure Always always use a heat protection spray or serum before using heated appliances on your hair. These work by coating the hair with a fine layer of silicone protection. This stops the heat from penetrating the hair shaft and also helps the tool glide effortlessly so less contact is required.

It’s also a good idea to work as quickly as possible to reduce the amount of contact between the hot air or heated barrel/plates and your hair. When it comes to straighteners and curlers a good rule of thumb is no more than 4 seconds of exposure per section. The less contact the less damage.

Once the Damage is Done You know your hair is damaged if it starts to break or snap, feels coarse or brittle, looks dull, shows split ends, or sticks up in places it never did before. Unfortunately if hair really is damaged the best option is to bite the bullet and get the damaged sections cut off. If that seems a bit extreme there is a lot of good hair repair products available which deliver incredible results. These products use proteins to patch and fill the damaged areas of hair to improve the look and feel and help strengthen and protect. So all is not necessarily lost!

Your hair is one of the first things people notice about you and dry, brittle, heat damaged locks are not a good look, so it’s worth taking the time and care to make sure that no matter what your style is, you always have healthy looking hair.