Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hot Irons and Hot Rollers

I have already discussed why blow-drying can be damaging to hair, but I’d also like to discuss curling and straightening irons and hot rollers.
Straighteners have become more and more popular in the last twenty years or so, and there seems to be no sign of them losing popularity.  Curling irons and hot rollers continue to be ever-popular as well.

I know better than anyone how nice it is to be able to pop in hot rollers or use a curling iron and have nice quick curls.  I also understand that people like the sleek look that a straightening iron can give.

However, there are few things as damaging to the hair, or that causes split ends and broken hairs as hot irons.
There are always going to be people who use them and still have healthy looking hair.  These people are the exception to the rule, though.  They must have some pretty tough hair.

Have you ever put a drop of water on a curling or straightening iron when it’s fully heated?  The water sizzles and evaporates.  That means that it has boiled.

Many people use their irons while their hair is still slightly damp, out of necessity to save time, or because they like the results.  If your hair is damp, then there is still water in the cuticle.  Apply that hot iron to it and the water actually boils inside the cuticle of the hair. This will cause the cuticle to both swell and shrink, and this kind of damage is exactly what leads to breakage and splits.

Hot rollers are rarely as hot as irons are, but they are still hot enough to be uncomfortable when held next to the skin.  They aren’t as immediately harsh as hot irons are, but they do bake any moisture out of the hair, and over time, damage will accumulate.

You may think that if you’re using a heat protectant, you’re safe.  I admit to having bought into that idea for a while myself. However, nothing really can protect hair from such high heat.  You are bound to scorch your hair or to dry out your hair at the very least.

Hair really does need moisture in it in order to stay healthy and heat products eradicate that moisture.
I am not trying to tell anyone never to use heat products.  Everyone should enjoy their hair and do what pleases them. And even if you have chosen to give up heat products, there may be times when you feel you have to use them.

Just be aware of the facts.  Don’t ever use hot irons on hair that is even slightly damp.  Do use a heat protectant, as a slight buffer.  It’s not a cure-all, but it will help.  Don’t hold an iron in one place for a long time.  Use quick passes.

As for hot rollers, again, only use them on hair that is completely dry. It may be of some help to use some sort of heat protector, but try to use them only very rarely.

The best advice is never to use heat products on your hair, but I know that isn’t realistic for many. However, please do know what you’re about to do when you use them.

Giving up heat products was the very first thing that I did when I started my long hair journey, and it was the first thing that made a noticeable positive change in the quality of my hair.

Yes, I’ve made many other mistakes along this journey, which is why I’m not much closer to my goal than I was four years ago, but I’m doing my best to learn from those mistakes.  And I can pass this knowledge along to you, so that maybe, just maybe, you won’t make the mistakes I’ve made.


  1. I never could get the hang of using a curling iron. The curl wouldn't last more than a couple of hours. It would be nice if we could all just accept our hair the way it is naturally. It would be a lot easier.

  2. Alas and alack, irons and hot rollers (or even brush rollers and a hair dryer) are the only things that pull the freaking frizz out of my hair. I do agree that using them when hair is damp can be bad! I worried when I used oil on my hair then used them too. I felt as though I was literally frying my hair. Fortunately, I do have strong hair so the damage seems to be minimal. Then again, I usually go about frizzy headed and hideously ugly to I don't too often do this to my head.

  3. I can always tell if the damage on someone's head is from flatironing - splits high up on the hair shaft, shorter strands of irregular lengths close to the crown of the head... on a head of unusually straight hair.
    It's just not worth it, whether you have long or short hair.


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