How often do you heat style your hair? As we move into the winter months, we’re way more likely to crank up the heat on our blow dryer and keep our heads warm as we slowly fry our hair. The truth about most of our plug-in styling tools is that dialing up the heat may be good for hairstyles, but not good for our hair or scalp health. Hair heat damage is much more common than you may think. We’re diving into some of the myths and misconceptions to help you keep your look without sacrificing your locks.
Why is Heat Damaging?
Human hair is simple in structure - each hair grows out of the skin from the follicle from the hair bulb under the skin. The outer layer of hair, the cuticle, is made up of cells that resemble scales and overlap to protect the inner layers of the hair shaft––the cortex and the medulla. Excess heat strips the cuticle, slowly exposing the cortex to damage. Since the cortex extends below the surface of the skin blasting the high heat mode may also damage your scalp as well. Mostly it will result in hair looking flat or breaking. Oftentimes hair will lose its ability to hold its shape––think flat curls and limp locks with no volume.
Checking In On Your Hair
Here are a few signs you can use to see if your hair has been damaged:
- Check the ends: are they frayed? All different lengths? Split ends are a sign hair has been damaged by heat.
- Hair is overly dry or rough in texture
- Natural curl or waves have fallen flat
- Hair tangles and knots easier than before
- Accelerated Hair Loss
- Itchy scalp
If you want full shiny hair as well as to fight off potential scalp issues, consider keeping your hair healthy and turning down the fire on your tools. Get real on the myths surrounding your hair care routine to prevent deterioration.
Myth: Using Heat Protection Spray will Save My Hair
There are many products on the market that claim to offer immunity from heat styling tools. Unfortunately not all of them can provide the impenetrable shield they claim to offer. The best heat protectants are water soluble silicones so that they can coat the hair cortex with a protective barrier. Checking the ingredients to make sure that heat shields that aren’t pure oil - or contain harmful parabens are key. Many heat protectants also add essential fatty acids to your hair, helping it seal hair against heat.
While a heat protectant can definitely help shield hair against damage, it is not effective at repairing hair or saving it once the hair shaft has already been stripped. Best practice is to not over-fry your hair in the first place, and use a lower setting in addition to a heat protectant spray.
Myth: Higher Heat is the Only Way to Straighten Your Hair with a Blow Dryer
For all of us looking to tame our natural cowlicks and waves with our blow dryer, it's pretty much the golden standard to up the intensity to high in order to achieve that stick-straight dry. The truth is that with the right brush and products any hair type can be straightened on a lower heat setting or even a cool setting with a blow dryer.
Here are some tips for straightening from the pros:
- Blow dry hair in smaller sections, working away from your scalp
- Attach the appropriate hair dryer extension; for straightening the tool is flattened towards the end to evenly distribute concentrated drying power against a hair brush
- Use a larger rounded brush to gently roll hair up and follow brush with hair dryer
- Never hold the hair dryer against one section of hair for too long
Luckily today’s hair dryers are no longer built like miniature ovens that blast and damage hair with 400F + heat. With the invention of the ionic dryers the most common hair tool is now able to create millions of negative ions that actually break down water droplets, drying hair much faster. Check out more from AER on the Surprising Science Behind Drying Your Hair.
Truth: Hair Health Matters
Once excessive heat damage has wreaked havoc the only way to save hair is to cut it all off and let strong healthy hair grow back in its place. Beyond just looking bad, having thin breaking hair can sometimes point to a larger deficiency in diet or need for a change in lifestyle. Since hair consists of protein, making sure that you have a good nutritional diet is essential to having strong healthy hair.
Tips to keep hair healthy always:
- Choosing your styling tools wisely is paramount when it comes to keeping your hair healthy.
- Buy a dryer that does not exceed temperatures of 450degrees F, no hair can withstand high temperatures without getting damaged
- For those that dye their hair regularly, be wary that the chemicals in hair dye actually strip down the cuticle thus exposing it to higher amounts of damage from heat. Only use low heat settings when drying your hair.
- Try using ceramic hair straighteners or curlers to avoid your tools conducting too much heat and frying your hair
The more we learn about the irreparable damage heat can have on hair, the more product-conscious we can be in styling our hair. The AER dryer was designed to not only be a hyper-efficient drying tool, but also keep our end-user’s hair health in mind. The advanced AI sensors in the AER dryer actually help determine how to dry your hair while safeguarding it against excessive heat. The smart hair dryer has a DC ionizer that reduces dry time to style faster while lessening hair’s exposure. Putting form and function together in a way that benefits and beatifies hair is what you should be asking from your heat styling tools!
So question your hair routine and make sure you’re building healthy locks with the right regime and heat styling tools.