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Tips for heat styling hair (without damage)

We all love our hot styling tools, whether it’s a hairdryer, curling iron or straightener. But with heat styling comes heat-damaged hair: split ends, dry and dull strands and hair breakage.

“Excessive heat over a prolonged period will cause irreversible heat damage,” says our stylist Lindsay.

How heat damages hair

She explains “Hair is made up of a protein called keratin. High temperatures can weaken and break down the protein bonds leading to permanent structural damage.”

Lindsay adds “Heat damage is cumulative. Regularly using tools at high temperatures increases the changes to the protein bonds and moisture levels of each strand. Eventually, those bonds are broken and can’t be fixed.”

Fine and thin hair is generally more vulnerable to heat damage as it has less natural protection. But thick and coarse hair isn’t immune, especially when subjected to high heat frequently or for extended periods.

Hot tools, cool tricks

The good news is you don’t need to give up your styling tools entirely. Here are our five practical tips you can use to minimise heat damage:

#1. Don’t skip heat protectant

Before using any heated tools (including a hair dryer), always apply a heat-protectant product. This will create a protective barrier that seals in moisture and helps stop the hair shaft from drying out, keeping hair looking shiny and healthy.

Lindsay adds “I particularly like Miracle Creator by Matrix as its ultra-lightweight consistency is easy to distribute evenly through the hair, it’s absorbed within seconds and doesn’t leave a residue behind.”

#2. Invest in quality styling tools

High-quality heat styling tools often have a more even heat distribution, reducing the chances of ‘hot spots’ that can severely damage hair.

They usually have adjustable heat settings too, so you start with a low temperature and only increase if necessary.

Lindsay cautions, “And avoid using your tools on the same section of hair more than once because it can cause damage to your hair shafts.”

#3. Avoid styling wet hair

Wet hair is more susceptible to heat damage as the cuticle (outer layer of your hair) is raised, exposing the inner structures of the hair to the intense heat. So always ensure your hair is 70-80% dry before using heat tools, advises Lindsay.

#4. Give frazzled locks a break

Heat damage is cumulative and continual heat styling will progressively weaken your hair. So it’s important to try to incorporate heat-free days in your haircare routine.

Air drying your hair when you can and use dry shampoo once a week if possible. Plus you can explore alternative ways of styling like braids, updos or hair accessories that do not require heated tools.

#5. Condition. Condition. Condition.

Deep conditioning treatments restore essential moisture and nutrients to your hair, combating dryness and brittleness from heat styling. Regularly using hair masks or deep conditioners like Sebastian Penetraitt can significantly help restore and maintain hair health.

#6. Book regular haircuts

Even with these precautions, some degree of heat damage is almost inevitable. That’s why it’s crucial to get regular trims every 6-8 weeks to remove any damaged or split ends and keep your hair looking its best.

As always, remember that everyone’s hair is unique, so do ask your stylist for advice, tips and recommendations – we love to help.

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