Heat. It’s one of your hair’s greatest enemies.
But also, one of our best secrets for taking our look from boring everyday to OMG-worthy in minutes.
There is something so enticing about using those heated hair tools, which can get overly addictive.
You can curl, crimp, straighten, and do so much with your strands.
Within just a matter of minutes, you’ll feel like a new person!
Even if we don’t style on the daily, we still use heat. Think of the times you’ve blow-dried your hair in a rush or when you took a hot shower.
It all involved heat, making our lives a little easier and more comfortable.
Admittedly, using heat on our locks has many perks. But, when overused or misused, it can damage your strands. Even with heat protectants, your hair can still suffer from heat damage.
Those products only reduce the damage caused by styling. They can’t completely protect your strands from damage. At best, they can only do so it by 50%.
And the thing is, you don’t have to be a regular hot styling tool user to get heat damage. With one swipe or curl left for too long, you can burn your strands.
At that point, no amount of product can bring back your locks. And you’ll have to trim and start over.
Table Of Contents
- Does Heat Permanently Damage Hair?
- Telltale Signs That Your Hair is Heat Damaged
- How Do You Fix Heat Damaged Hair?
- How To Protect Hair From Heat Damage
Does Heat Permanently Damage Hair?
It doesn’t always happen, but high temperatures can permanently damage your locks.
Specifically, the high heat can damage your strand’s keratin proteins, crack the cuticle of your hair, and zap out that much-needed moisture.
It can also damage your hair’s bonds, which will cause it to wilt and become brittle and dry.
Remember, though, merely using heat doesn’t mean you will damage your locks every time. That would be a nightmare for everyone.
Your locks can actually stand up to 450˚F. But, experts still recommend going below 400. Go above that, and you’d be earning yourself some breakage already.
Even if you have thick, vigorous, and healthy hair, that temperature is already too high. And even with the strongest protectant, your strands will show signs of damage.
Besides, no style needs that amount of heat anyway.
Telltale Signs That Your Hair is Heat Damaged
High temperatures really do a number to your locks. The damage it does in days can take months to repair. More often than not, though, we’re not aware of the symptoms once they start.
Some of us even just choose to ignore it. The thing is, that will only create bigger problems. So, to avoid ending up chopping off your locks, pay close attention to it.
Here is a list of symptoms you must watch out for.
1. Split Ends
You’ve probably seen and heard recommendations to get a trim at least every three months. And that is because of split ends. It’s a normal thing; everyone has them once in a while.
That is because your tips are the oldest parts of the hair shaft and are prone to breakage, snagging, and such.
However, if you see plenty of them appearing too fast, this might be because of the heat damaging your tips.
To check thoroughly, look for white dots on the tips of your strands. Then, do a friction test and slide one strand between your fingertips.
If the white tip breaks off easily, it is definitely severe heat damage.
2. Rough Texture
Another way you can tell that your hair has taken too much heat is by how it feels. When your tresses are A-ok, they should seem nice and smooth.
When it is damaged, though, it can be rough and dry. It can even feel singed. And no matter the amount of conditioner you use or moisturizing products, it still feels the same way.
The ends will also appear uneven with some parts appearing thinner than the others.
You can really tell that by comparing the feeling of the midsection or tips of your locks to its roots.
Since your roots are the least exposed, they’re a good basis of what healthy hair should feel like. If you’ve got crunchy, dry, and rough ends, that is damage right there.
3. No More Elasticity
Normal, healthy hair has a proper stretch to it. Often times, when you pull on one strand, it stretches a reasonable length before it breaks. When your braids have damage, though, it loses that ability.
If you want to know if your hair is damaged, one test you could do is the stretch test. Simply take a strand of hair and pull.
If it breaks or stretches but doesn’t return to its original length, that is a sign of dryness. And that dryness might have been taken away by your use of heat.
4. Excessive Shedding
Hair shedding is a normal part of life. On average, all of us lose 50 to 100 strands a day. When you use too much heat, though, it weakens your hair follicles, and you start losing more than you ought to.
One visible sign of that is when you see too many strands with a bulb at the end. This can mean that even your healthier strands are starting to fall out.
5. No More Shine
After washing your hair, it should appear a little shinier than when you went into the shower. But, if that isn’t the case despite all the moisturizing products you used, that is a sign of damage.
If that luster is gone, it means it is hard to turn back already. And you should stop using heating tools at once.
6. Hard To Manage
When your hair isn’t doing fine, it is hard to style and hard to manage. This is often so because it keeps getting frizzy, and it just looks messy no matter what. It also easily tangles up.
That is a bad sign that you’ve been overusing the heating tools and need to take a break.
7. Hard To Color
Heat damage can turn your hair porous. And if you love coloring it, this will become a huge problem for you. See, porous hair doesn’t hold onto the color.
You’d need a lot more touch-ups just to keep your new hue. You can test this by taking a strand of hair and putting it on water.
If it floats, you’re good. But, if it immediately sinks, that means your hair has become excessively porous.
8. No More Curls
If you have curly hair with damage, your curls can fall apart. They will grow bigger and might just disappear altogether.
They’ll also stop being the bouncy curls you love and leave only flabby semi-curly pieces of hair behind.
If you notice this problem, don’t take to a curling iron because your hair won’t hold the new curls anyway. It’ll only make the problem worse.
How Do You Fix Heat Damaged Hair?
Now you know what to look for, it’s time for the remedies. Fortunately, heat damage isn’t black and white.
You can go from mild to severe damage. And there are plenty of ways to deal with each stage. Here are some of them.
1. Chop It Off
Unfortunately, once you have severely damaged locks, there’s nothing you can do to repair them.
The only choice is to chop it all off. This can be daunting, but don’t worry. This will give you a fresh start.
If you’re worried about your hair growing too slow, there are plenty of remedies out there for healthy and fast hair growth.
2. Nourish Your Strands
If you’re lucky enough to catch the damage at its early stages, you still have a chance to repair it by bringing back nourishment and moisture to your strands.
With that, it’s time to pamper yourself with great hair masks and deep conditioning treatments filled with nourishing ingredients.
Products with argan oil, aloe vera, coconut oil, shea butter, and avocado are guaranteed to bring your hair back to its bouncy glory.
3. Stop With The Heat
This is an obvious one. To prevent further damage, you’ll need to give up your beloved heating tools for a while. Your hair needs to recover, and you need to give it a chance to rest.
Besides, there are plenty of no-heat looks you can try out there that are just as amazing. There are also plenty of no-heat ways to get those much-coveted curls. You just need to think outside the box.
4. Choose Nourishing Products
When it comes to repairing your locks, it’s time to get serious with your hair care routine.
Aside from masks and weekly treatments, also consider what you use daily. And make sure that they’re just as nourishing and moisturizing for your locks.
This way, you can get the maximum effects of the products, and you can have your luscious locks back in no time.
5. Prevent Further Damage
The crucial treatment for damaged hair is to prevent any further damage. For instance, stop towel drying. That vigorous rubbing motion can cause more harm to your cuticles.
Instead, simply wrap your hair with the towel and let it naturally dry. If you have time, you should leave it to air dry.
Also, be gentle while brushing your tresses. When it’s damaged, it’s more fragile, so you should comb with more care.
How To Protect Hair From Heat Damage
No hair type is immune to the damages caused by heat. But, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world for styling.
There are many ways to avoid or at least minimize damage without you having to throw your dear styling tools away. Here are a few hints to help you out.
Limit your heat use
When using your styling tools, try to minimize the temperature. Make sure it’s not too hot, and it’s friendly enough for your locks. Also, use protectants.
Even though they only protect by 50%, that’s still something to keep your locks a little safer.
And of course, if you don’t really have to use heat, why even use it? You can do well without it, even just for a few days.
Use high-quality products
To fight off damage, you need to make your hair secure. To do that, invest in high-quality products that strengthen and nourish your tresses.
Ensure that your hair is getting all it needs to be able to protect itself and repair itself if necessary.
Have a good diet
More than anything, great hair starts with good health. Aside from nourishing the outside, you also have to nourish the inside. So, make sure that you’re eating well.
Get all the necessary proteins in your body to strengthen your strands. And get all the minerals you need to keep your hair smooth and bouncy.
You can also include hair supplements in your diet if you like. If you do this, you might not even need styling tools to get great looking hair.
Air-dry whenever possible
We know, we know. Air-drying takes a lot of time, yes. But, trust us, it’ll save you a lot of trouble in the long run. You don’t even need to do it every day.
Try doing it in intervals or even just once or twice a week. That’ll already make a big difference.
Get regular trims
You might be worried about getting your length chopped off. But, fret not. It’s actually better for you to get regular trims. When breakages happen, they continue to climb up your hair shaft.
So, to avoid that, you need to get rid of them before they climb. This will also make way to stronger, healthier hair that can stand damages better.
Invest in good tools
Besides what you put on your hair, you should also invest in what you use on your hair. Sometimes, it’s the tools that help more with the damage.
So, save up then splurge on devices that cause you less harm. For instance, use blowers that take less time and apply less heat to your locks.
With great tools like that, you can expect little to no damage once combined with all other preventive measures.
Kayla is a self-proclaimed skincare and haircare junkie who loves testing out new products and writing about her experiences. Her bathroom shelves are always overflowing with beauty products. You name it - it's there.