How to Keep Your Hair Healthy When Heat Styling
If you're a heat styling pro and always use a protectant – chances are your hair isn't showing many signs of heat damage. But, if you’re like most people, life gets in the way and you’ve skipped the protectant a few times. Unfortunately, if a few times becomes every time, your heat styling habit can leave your locks stressed, dry, and prone to breakage.
You already wash, condition, style, spray – do you really need another step in your hair care routine? According to hair experts, the answer is yes. Meet your new best friend, a heat-styling protectant.
A lot of my clients have had bad experiences with heat protectants. Many brands contain heavy oils and weighty silicones that can leave your hair limp and greasy. Next thing you’re reaching for a clarifying shampoo and that dries out your hair. It can be frustrating.
After more than 20 years of working in haircare, I know that heat styling and hair damage can be a vicious cycle. The more you heat style without a heat protector, the more you damage your hair. You can find yourself turning up the heat just to get the same results.
I wanted to find a way to break the heat damage cycle. That’s why Arey created Mend – a lightweight heat protector that reduces the appearance of hair damage and prevents future heat damage.
How Does Heat Styling Damage Your Hair?
Your hair strands are covered with overlapping scales (the cuticle) like a snakeskin. Those scales lie closed and flat on healthy hair, locking moisture into the inner core of each strand. This means hydrated, smooth, shiny hair.
Heat-styling opens up the scales, causing moisture loss. This leaves your strands rough, dry, and dull. Your hair may feel coarse and be prone to tangling.
These are some signs that your hair has heat damage:
Dull hair: your hair loses its natural shine when your cuticle scales are rough and open. Straight styles look less polished and sleek.
Limp curls: damaged cuticles release moisture which can cause your curls to loosen or go frizzy.
Increased breakage: it’s normal to lose about 50 to 100 hairs each day. Damaged hair tends to shed more and you’ll see more flyaways from breakage.
Without proper heat protection you can find yourself caught in an annoying cycle of hair damage – the more you heat style, the more you damage your tresses. The condition of your hair keeps getting worse over time. You’re not imagining it – it really is getting harder and harder to style your hair.
Heat tools are part of daily life. They are an easy way to keep your hair looking great – as long as you know the right way to use them. Here’s what I tell my clients about keeping their hair healthy while heat styling:
How to Safely Style Your Hair With Heat
You want sleek smooth hair or defined curls but your hair has other ideas? I get it. It’s tempting to crank up the temperature on your heat tools. More heat means more control, right? Wrong.
Less really is more when it comes to heat styling. Your mane needs you to be a minimalist. Here’s my advice on how to reduce the impact of hot tools on your hair:
1 Don’t Heat Style Wet Hair
Taking your hair dryer to sopping wet hair can cause irreversible damage. If you’ve ever heard a sizzle when you clamp down with your curling iron, that’s the sound of hair heat damage. Heat turns the moisture in your strands into steam which expands, fractures, and weakens the hair shaft. Dermatologists call this kind of thermal injury bubble hair.1
You can easily avoid hair heat damage with these safe styling habits:
✅ Follow the 90% rule: let your hair dry 90% before reaching for your heat tools.
✅ Use The Hair Wrap: accelerate your drying time without damaging your hair. Our highly absorbent hair towel is made of super soft 70% naturally-derived bamboo.
✅ Take a 20-minute time out: twenty minutes of air drying is the best way to be sure your hair is ready to take some heat.
✅ Aim low: reduce direct heat on your strands by blow-drying with the nozzle pointed down your hair shaft toward the ends. This helps the scales stay flat and boosts shine.
With these smart heat styling techniques, you can reduce the stress on your tresses. To reduce future damage you need a heat protector like Mend that coats each strand with clinically proven heat-diffusing ingredients.
2 Heat Style Your Hair in Small Sections:
If you’re blessed with a thick mane of hair or you’re just in a rush, it can be tempting to heat style your hair in large sections. Here’s why styling small sections at a time is not only healthier for your hair, it’s quicker too:
✅ Bigger isn’t better: when you’re styling large sections you have to leave the tool on your hair for longer. This fries the top layer while the heat doesn’t reach the lower layers. Additional damage occurs when you end up doing multiple passes over the same strands.
✅ Small is beautiful: smooth a small section of your hair with one quick swipe of a hot tool. This reduces potential thermal damage.
✅ Less is more: reduce your hair’s exposure to heat by only smoothing the top layers. Let your natural texture create bounce and volume under the sleek top layer. For curly styles, air dry for texture and use a curling iron only on select sections.
There’s no need to stop using heat tools altogether. Good heat habits combined with a heat protector mean you can have the hairstyle you love and healthier hair.
3 Use the Right Heat Setting for Your Hair Type
All hair types are at risk from thermal damage, but some are more vulnerable than others. According to Dyson,2 the coarsest hair types can take heat up to 300°F. If your hair is greying, curly, colored or fine, you should significantly lower your heat settings.
Here's what the science says on hot tool temperatures:
High heat damages curls: studies on African hair types show that hair can revert to its natural curl pattern after styling at 365°F, but the same hair is permanently altered after styling at 428°F. High-heat styling also causes stiffness and structural damage to curls resulting in increased breakage.3
Fine hair needs lower temperatures: because fine hair is the most delicate hair type, it’s easily damaged by hot tools. Always use a heat protectant and stay below 200°F.
Grey hair singes easily: because grey hair tends to be dry and porous, it can easily burn. Only apply heat tools for a few seconds and keep temperatures below 230°F.4
High heat fades colored hair: bleached hair is particularly vulnerable to heat because it tends to be dry and delicate. To keep your salon color fresh, keep hot tools under 230°F.
Hot tools are a great way to change up your look, add shine and texture. Just keep an eye on the temperature dial and never skip your thermal protector.
4 Give Your Hair a Heat Vacation
All hair types benefit from taking time off from heat styling. Here’s a few ways to give your hair a break from the blow dryer:
✅ Try air-drying: embrace your natural style.
✅ Use a dry shampoo: give your hair a refresh without water.
✅ Change up your style: try styles that work with your hair’s natural texture.
✅ Refresh your curls: a curl-boosting spray restores curls without heat.
Moderation and mindfulness are your hair’s best friend. Change things up with updos or braids – heat-free hairstyles that work well for damp or air-dried tresses. It’s easy to get addicted to your heat tools, but your hair will thank you for a change in your heat styling routine.
5 Always Use a Heat Protectant
Whatever else you do, don't skip the heat protectant.
A good thermal protector like Mend coats your hair strands and helps distribute heat evenly. We use ingredients that seal your hair cuticle and lock in moisture. Also Quaterniums that effectively slow the transfer of heat.
When we added a heat protector to Arey’s haircare line, we wanted to protect your hair from future damage and reduce the appearance of existing damage. The result is Mend – a leave-in conditioner that rehydrates and smoothes your hair while also protecting against heat styling damage up to 450°F.
How Does Mend Heat Protector Work?
Just a dime-sized amount of Mend applied to damp hair protects against thermal damage and is clinically proven to reduce breakage by up to 45%.
Heat-damaged hair needs repair and protection against future damage. We combined nourishing conditioners, strengthening vegan collagen, and heat protectants to do both.
Here’s how the ingredients in Mend work:
Vegan collagen (sr-Hydrozoan Polypeptide-1) plumps each strand with moisture.
Polyquaternium-37 moisturizes, softens, and improves volume in fine hair.
Our blend of moisturizing esters strengthens hair and reduces the appearance of split ends.
The heat-protecting complex absorbs into your hair to smooth the cuticle and prevent further heat damage.
Mend delivers instant lightweight moisture to your hair. You can use it every time you wash your hair and it won’t build up or weigh your hair down. On days when you decide to air dry, Mend works with your hair’s natural texture for soft, frizz-free tresses.
At Arey, We Care About Your Hair Health
That’s why we create innovative science-based products to improve the health of your hair. We want you to see your best results so we offer 25% off on all subscriptions to help keep you on track with your hair health goals. Because we believe that science + consistency = results.
We are Arey.
- Thermal Damage From Heat Styling: What You Need to Know
- Heat damaged hair: Causes, treatments, and prevention
- Curl Reversion and Damage: The Effect of Different Temperature Treatments on Hair
10 Worst Things You Can Do to Damage Your Hair
Itchy Scalp? Your Best Solutions for a Healthy Scalp