Causes of Heat Damaged Hair – And How To Fix It, Of Course!

flat iron heat damage

Whether you have experienced heat damage or are interested in learning how to fix or prevent it, I’m glad to let you know that you are in the right place!

Considering the many options that we have for heat styling, along with the fact that most of us are doing our own hair, we are at risk of wrecking our hair with heat. Armed with knowledge on this topic, we can lessen this risk. Let’s talk about heat damage, some causes of heat damaged hair, and ways to nurse damaged hair back to health.

What’s Heat Damage?

fire orange heat damage

Heat damage is damage the hair suffers after excessive heat has been applied to it. The heat causes physical damage to the shaft of the hair, causing numerous negative effects that will be examined in the next section.

How Do I Know I Have Heat Damage?

I have outlined some of the signs of heat damage below:

  • Your curls lose their ability to spring back after washing or styling.
  • Your curls look to be more stretched out than they used to be. When hair is only mildly damaged, the difference in your hair might not be very noticeable, but in situations where there is more severe damage, you might find that some of your hair is completely straight.
  • Your hair can become excessively dry and brittle.
  • Split ends begin to appear or get worse, often to the point of hair breakage.

Tools that Cause Heat Damage and Recommendations

The Blow Dryer

I have experienced heat damage before, and the blow dryer was my tool of destruction.

I had been successfully managing my natural hair for years, and my hair was happy and healthy. But I LIVE for big, voluminous wash-n-gos. To get the look, I started to use a blow dryer to stretch my roots and other parts of my hair. As you can probably imagine, heat damage was not far off.

Over time, my hair had really stretched out (in a strange looking way – no bueno) and my curls were not bouncing back like they normally would. I also developed a dryness issue with particular parts of my hair that I had been focusing the blow dryer on. It was no coincidence, I blow dried my hair to death!

Hindsight is 20/20. Though blow dryers are not always as immediately damaging as some of the other tools that I will mention, repeated weekly exposure to the blow dryer on the regular heat setting was too much for my hair.

Recommendation: Use your blow dryer on the lowest possible heat setting and try not to use it often. Remember that there is a cool setting (or button) on most blow dryers. Use this setting to blow unheated air on your hair. A good blow dryer will have several heat settings and a cool shot button. Using heat protectant spray prior to using the blow dryer will also help to protect against heat damage.


Flat Irons and Curling Irons

beauty brunette flat iron

Flat irons and curling irons are among the biggest offenders when it comes to heat damage. This is because the heat applied with these irons is generally more direct than the heat applied by blow dryers. At high temperatures, flat irons and curling irons crush and burn the hair’s cuticle between those two scolding hot plates.

Recommendation: Ensure that your flat iron or curling iron has adequate temperature control. I am not talking about low, medium, and high heat settings. I am talking about a temperature gauge that you can adjust between 140 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit. This way you can use the lowest heat setting necessary to get the job done.

Start at the lowest setting and slowly adjust it until you find your lowest effective heat setting. Limit the number of times you pass the flat iron through your hair (one pass per section of hair is desirable). Don’t forget your heat protectant spray. Also, limiting how many times you flat iron your hair is always a good practice.

Click HERE for my review on the HSI Professional Glider Flat Iron.


The Pressing Comb

My grandmother was a pro with the pressing comb. She used her pressing comb sparingly and mostly around her hairline. She maintained gorgeous, long hair.

But make no mistake, the pressing comb has the potential to burn your hair to the innermost layer. That super hot comb could rip through your strands as well, especially if you have not adequately detangled your hair.

Recommendation: If you are going to use a hot comb, I would recommend one with temperature control, just like I recommend for the rest of the hot tools. In addition, take the time to thoroughly detangle your hair prior to using the hot comb. Don’t forget your heat protectant spray, and try not to use the hot come too often.

Nurse your Hair Back to Health

pexels photo help

So, what if your hair is already heat damaged?

There are things that you can do to help bring some life back to your hair.

Give Your Hair a Break

This is a big one. At the first sign of heat damage, it is important to reduce or stop using heat for as long as you can. You will likely notice a difference in your hair just by keeping the heat away.

Deep Condition, and Then Deep Condition Again

If you have never deep conditioned your hair, now is a good time to start. If you already deep condition, deep condition more often. You may find that your hair behaves better when you deep condition for longer than you normally would.

Keep Your Hair Moisturized
Moisture is key in any hair regimen and heat damaged hair is often dry and lifeless. Add as much moisture to your hair as possible. Choose products that have moisturizing ingredients, like good old water and moisturizing humectants like glycerin, aloe vera, and honey. Consider adding oil to seal in the moisture.

Beat Heat Damage

I have heard many influencers say that heat damaged hair should be cut off, but this is not necessary a lot of the time. Only in cases of severe heat damage is a haircut needed. If the damage has not gotten to the point where your hair is breaking profusely, it can be helped. Try the tips that I have outlined above.

Remember that prevention is best when it comes to heat damage!

I hope that this post was helpful to you. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. If you have a more personal concern, use the Contact Us page to reach me directly. 🙂

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