Vol.2, No.9

How to prevent dry hair from curling irons

Thermal styling, while popular, is a major cause of dryness and damage to the hair. This article explains how to prevent that kind of damage.

Curling iron
Photo Credit: Sharon Dominick
Do you want soft, voluptuous, wavy hair? Perhaps you'd like tiny ringlets? Or maybe you just want to create a slight bend in your shoulder-length bob? Chances are, if you're attempting to obtain any of these styles, you'll be in need of a thermal styling tool, such as a curling iron. The caveat is that overuse of thermal styling utensils dries out and destroys hair. But with today's technology, along with some good old fashioned common sense, you can obtain all your favorite styles, while keeping your hair in the healthiest of conditions.

First, you must understand the type of hair you have. For instance, African-American hair typically tends to be much drier than Caucasian hair. Many African-American women have chemical relaxers to straighten their natural curl patterns. Since chemical relaxers dry the hair even further, styling with thermal tools is a virtual death sentence to a healthy mane. And even though Caucasian hair has more moisture and elasticity, this same principle applies to heat styling of this type of hair as well.

The first thing that you should concentrate on, is maintaining hair's moisture prior to styling. If you're already prone to dryness, make sure you use a deep conditioner after shampooing. Allow the conditioner to be absorbed into the hair for at least 15 minutes. Remember that well conditioned hair will require much less heat to style. With this in mind, a good way to protect hair during styling, is to use a curling wax. Curling waxes have been made available in beauty supply stores, pharmacies, and even supermarkets. By placing a dab in the palm of your hand, lightly coat the hair shaft. The wax will help curls keep their shape, while creating a shield that protects the hair from heat. Styling spritzes and sprays which act as sealants, work just as well in shielding your do from unnecessary heat damage.

The way you use your heat-styling tool is extremely important in maintaining hair's health. One of the easiest ways to avoid damaging healthy tresses is to use the absolute lowest heat setting possible when styling. If the heat is at too high a level, you could actually scorch the hair causing it to break or fall out. Also, make certain that you're not leaving the iron on the hair shaft for long periods of time. With the use of curling waxes and sprays, you should only need to leave the iron on hair for a maximum of a few seconds.

The thermal tool itself, whether it's a curling iron or flat-iron, plays a big part in the amount of damage done to hair during shaping. For example ceramic styling utensils can be less destructive to your locks. The ceramic plates on the irons help to preserve hair's natural moisture, while evenly distributing heat throughout the iron. Also, there is less potential for "hot spots" (worn areas which tend to get hotter than the rest of the iron) to occur. You might even look for thermal tools which have digital temperature displays. These will help you to gauge and control the amount of heat you're using. Unlike ceramic tools, some irons use steam instead of dry heat to style hair. Though heat in general is what causes the damage, steam curling your locks is a much healthier option. Curls also have a tendency to hold a bit longer with the use of steam-based equipment.

No matter what kind of style you're seeking, the absolute best thing to do is to consult a stylist who can help you to specifically evaluate your hair type. He or she will be able to suggest the products and tools that will work best with your texture. Basically though, it's up to you to oversee the general maintenance and vitality of your hair. Today's shaping products are instrumental in the protection of your tresses. However, the best practice in reducing the dryness and breakage caused by thermal styling, is to limit the amount of thermal styling in the first place.