Protecting Your Hair From Heat

protecting your hair from heat damage

Over the course of the last year, I fell into a more home-based routine. This included more sweatpants and ponytails and, on occasion, no makeup for days on end. When I’d get out of the shower, I no longer added product, followed by a thorough blow dry session and some smoothing out (or dressing up) with my curling iron. Instead, if I did shower that day, I’d often let my hair air dry, then put it up at some point so I didn’t have to think about it. And guess what? My hair started looking healthier every day because I was no longer running my hair through the styling cycle.

I’ve now returned to reality, and I’m back to my normal routine, including drying and curling almost every day. With that, I’ve realized how important it is to be active when protecting your hair from heat and other damage because I’ve realized firsthand how much it can affect your hair’s health.

What Causes Heat Damage?

Heat damage can lead to permanent damage. High or excessive heat can permanently break the disulfide bonds and protein cross-links within hair strands. These links and bonds are what gives hair its strength. Many heat sources are damaging to hai, including UV / sunlight and heated tools like blow dryers, heated rollers, hot curling irons, and flat irons. Even radiator heat and central heating during the winter can lead to hair damage. What’s the common link? All of these heat sources cause vital moisture to be stripped from our hair.

How Do You Know If Your Hair Has Heat Damage?

Damaged hair, especially when related to heat, can be hard to miss. Your hair will often look dull or rough and have a stringy texture. If you see white nodules at the end of your hairshafts, you can plan on a split end arriving in the near future. When you start to see split ends, you’ll know for sure your hair has become excessively dry. When trying to style your hair, it will no longer hold any shape, and you’ll start to see more and more breakage. You’ll probably also experience excess shedding, and if you’re anything like me, you don’t have any hair to spare!

Burnt hair is very hard and rough to the touch because it is so dry and dehydrated. By losing the natural protein found in hair, the cuticle is broken, causing it to become brittle and weak.  Women with blonde or white hair may even see signs of burnt-colored hues in their hair, which should definitely raise red flags that your hair needs life support. 

How to Prevent Heat Damage

The best way to prevent heat damage is not to use heated styling products, to avoid excess sunlight, and to fight the temptation to float in the pool for endless hours this summer. While this is an easy solution for some people, if you still want to style your hair and soak up some vitamin D this summer, you can protect your hair in other ways. 

To ensure that your hair is hydrated, use a high-performance shampoo and conditioner. If you start to notice that your hair is damaged, use a hair repair to bring it back from the edge. When selecting a repair product for your hair, try to choose one that does not coat the hair shaft with any residue. Over time, these residues can build up and eventually cause breakage. Many of the products on the market today contain silicone, so check the ingredients list when shopping and try to avoid it. Also, while some brands claim to work magic and offer a miracle cure, do your homework before making a selection. Not all products are created equal, and you don’t want to waste your time (or money) chasing false promises.  

Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Shampoo
Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Shampoo, $31
Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Conditioner
Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Conditioner, $34

Best Hair Protection

Styling products, in general, contain alcohol and synthetic ingredients that, if overheated, are lethal for hair health. A few hair serums on the market claim they protect hair from heat damage, but the problem is, most weigh the hair down and, in some cases, make hair greasy, especially when UV protection is added.

Before drying your hair or spending the day out in the sun, use a protectant spray, mist, serum, or oil to protect against the damaging effects of styling products and the sun. While there are a lot of great products out there, try to find one suited to your hair texture and type. I have fine, thin hair, so I try to find products that offer extra protection without weighing it down or making it look greasy. I also color my hair, so I’m concerned about protecting the color because it’s not cheap to stay blonde these days. I’ve found a lot of success regarding both aspects of my hair using Living Proof’s Restore Instant Protection Spray. It’s lightweight, and my hair looks healthy despite the daily styling. 

Restore Instant Protection Spray
Restore Instant Protection Spray, $29
Better Not Younger No Remorse Heat Protection - Taming Spray
Better Not Younger No Remorse Heat Protection – Taming Spray, $32

Styling Tools

Protecting your hair from heat is integral to having healthy, luscious-looking hair. While applying styling products that can help protect your hair is a key step in keeping your hair from looking dry or damaged, you should also consider which tools you use. 

For women with blonde and grey hair, when using hot tools, be sure the heat is on a low setting. This is especially true for gray hair because using an iron that is too hot can cause singeing (burn marks ) that leave orange traces on the hair. 

Nano Titanium Ultra-Thin Straightener for protecting your hairNano Titanium Ultra-Thin Straightener, $139.95

If you have thicker hair, use a heat protector and a larger flat iron and put the heat on a higher setting.

CHI Classic Tourmaline Ceramic Hairstyling Iron 1 1/2" for protecting your hair

CHI Classic Tourmaline Ceramic Hairstyling Iron 1 1/2″, $79.98

Read Next:

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How Scalp Care Contributes to Healthy Hair

How to protect your hair from heat


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