Yes, flat ironing does damage your hair and, in a few cases, can cause permanent damage to your hair and even scalp. Permanent hair damage usually happens due to high temperature that breaks the hydrogen bonds of your hair’s natural texture. However, there are several ways to avoid this hair and scalp damage and make your hair straightening process easier.
How Flat Iron Works?
Flat iron works by smoothing and heating the curly, wavy, or coily hair, making it straight.
Cuticles, the outside layer of your hair, act like shingles on a roof, shielding it from the environment. As a result, moisture is kept in and potentially dangerous things are kept out.
To straighten hair, flat irons use heat to break apart the positive hydrogen bonds in the cortex of each strand’s hair fiber.
When the links between hair follicles are severed, the hair loses its characteristic curl, wave, or coil pattern and becomes straight.
How Flat Ironing Causes Hair Damage and How to Prevent?
Hair straightening isn’t good for you, there’s no doubt about it! Even if it were the case, no one would do it.
Flat irons may have a number of detrimental impacts on your hair, but there are methods to minimize them.
Flat Iron Heat Damage
Any time you use high heat to straighten your hair, you’re putting your scalp and your hair in danger. Flat irons for home use often have many heat settings, the highest of which may reach 410 degrees Fahrenheit. Just five minutes with temperatures ranging from 347° to 419° may damage hair, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
A healthy hair strand has a smooth cuticle and a hollow medulla filled with air and water. It has a smooth cuticle and an interior glow because of the open cuticle. Overheating harms both of these things. To put it another way, using a flat iron is like burning your hair.
Flyaway, dry ends, dulling, breaking, and thin hair are all consequences of applying heat to your hair.
Fix: It’s easy to lessen the severity of these adverse effects through a variety of means. Using leave-in conditioners and heat protectant sprays can help keep your hair from being damaged.
It’s better to start with a low heat setting and work your way up as necessary. This procedure is more time-consuming, but it protects your scalp and hair in the long run. Most people’s hair has a perfect temperature range for styling.
Optimal Flat Iron Heat Settings based on Texture, Condition & Hair Type
|Hair Type||Optimal Flat Iron Heat Settings|
|Naturally textured, coarse, thick, coily, curly, or super wavy||350–400 degrees|
|Average Thick Normal hair||300–400 degrees|
|Chemically treated, damaged, thin or fine hair||Below 300 degrees|
Cheap Flat Irons or Straightening Irons
Cheap flat irons can’t heat up to high temperatures and don’t transfer heat uniformly, so they’re mostly useless and can be severely damaging to your hair. Cheap flat irons don’t heat evenly all across the plate like more expensive models. You’ll get some cold patches and some scorched because of the inconsistent heating. You might unintentionally damage your hair by using a flat iron on the same places repeatedly.
This has the potential to harm hair by progressively removing all of the natural moisture from it.
If you’re using the correct flat iron for your hair and performing the correct technique, you should only have to run the iron over one piece of hair once.
The quality and pricing of flat iron are equally important considerations when shopping for one. Quality flat irons cost extra.
A ceramic plate is used in most straightening irons. There is a big difference between high-end straighteners and low-end straighteners in terms of the number of ceramic layers they apply.
Contrary to popular belief, a ceramic hair straightener is not the same as one that is coated with ceramic.
Ceramic flat irons, on the other hand, are quite pricey. In comparison, ceramic-coated versions are less expensive.
Fix: For the best results, go for ceramic tourmaline-infused flat irons. Using a flat iron like this one not only gives you great results but also keeps your hair from being burned or damaged.
Using it helps straighten your hair quickly and locks in moisture. It produces a lot of negative ions. This protects the hydration and natural oils in your hair from being damaged by exposure to heat. As a bonus, the tourmaline plates leave your hair shiny and silky smooth.
Make sure you only purchase temperature-adjustable irons for heating. Auto settings on certain irons may be too hot for some hair types.
To avoid accidents, certain straightening irons are equipped with an automated shut-off function.
Applying Flat Iron on Wet Hair
When you use a flat iron on damp or wet hair, your hair is trapped between two very hot plates.
When you flat iron damp hair, little steam explosions occur as a result of the moisture erupting into the air. Under magnification, small hair blisters can be seen as the cuticle begins to bubble and buckle as a result of this treatment.
You may damage your hair by trying to flat iron it when it’s damp. This results in steam damage, which is the same as boiling the hair.
This may cause far more harm to your hair than regular heat styling and isn’t something a heat protectant will be able to cure either.
Because wet hair has a lesser damage threshold than dried hair, trying to straighten it shortly after a wash will result in greater damage.
Wet hair is like a slack spring that extends too far before it can be snapped back into place. So, too much stress may cause split ends and broken strands to occur more often than usual. By doing this you run the risk of doing more harm than good.
Fix: Only use a straightener on dry hair while going through the steps above. It’s best to avoid using a straightener on damp or wet hair while you’re straightening it.
To begin the process of straightening your hair, blow-dry it completely using a high setting on your blow-dryer. Make certain there isn’t any residual dampness.
With damp or wet hair, a hot flat iron may cause damage even at moderate temperatures. Be cautious if you’ve had your hair bleached, permed, or colored since this kind of chemically treated hair is more sensitive to heat damage.
Lack of Heat Protection
The amount of moisture in your hair is just as critical to its health and appearance as the amount of moisture in your skin. It aids in the nourishment and elasticity of your hair.
Flat irons are excellent, but they may do a lot of harm to your hair because of how hot they are. When the hair is exposed to high heat, it might get damaged. Hair becomes brittle, dry, dull, and breakable as a result of the moisture being drained from it.
Below are a few of the damages caused by flat iron:
- Breakage prone hair.
- Hair that is prone to knots and tangles.
- Split ends.
- Hair that is difficult to brush or style.
- Hair tip with white nodule.
- Extremely dry hair.
- Rough hair texture.
Fix: Before using heat on your hair, make sure to use a heat protectant. Using heat styling equipment with your hair requires certain hair care products. Look for silicone-containing items with extra care. A thin layer of silicone might serve as a shield for your hair against damage. Heat shields may make a significant impact on the health of your hair.
A good heat protectant works in three steps:
- It restores damaged areas that have dried out or broken down.
- Using your straightener while using this product smoothes and adds shine.
- Hair is protected from the harmful effects of high heat using this product.
A large portion of the protein included in hair serves as the structural foundation. Adding enough protein to your hair with protein treatments can help restore the strength of your tresses. Breaks in the protein link may be repaired and split ends can also be sealed using protein treatments.
Bonus Tips to Avoid Hair Damage from Flat Iron
- To decrease the damage your straightener does, use a restorative hair mask after using it. As a result, your hair will be rejuvenated and remain healthy for longer.
- When flat ironing hair, wait until it’s been shampooed, conditioned, and dried before you do so. Otherwise, you run the danger of rubbing debris and hairstyling chemicals into your hair, resulting in stiffness and a dull appearance. For touch-ups on second or third day hair, go ahead and use your flat iron, but save the bulk of your flat iron work for when your hair is clean.
- Dried dirt, hair dyes, and other cosmetics may clog flat iron plates, making it difficult to create a smooth, uniform straight hairstyle. Clean your flat iron periodically by wiping it down with a moist towel or by using an iron cleaner. Replacing the plates are recommended if they get severely chipped or damaged.
- While using your straightener, instead of going over loose hair, get a hold of a single strand and squeeze until the strand becomes firm. By increasing the tension in your straightener, you’ll use it less often and save time and your precious hair.
- It’s likely that you’ve used too much product if you observe smoke when flat ironing your hair. When it comes to hairspray, a little is OK, but not a lot. It’s extremely damaging to fine and blonde hair because of the breakage it causes. For frizzy hair, a very light hold hairspray may be used to give you more control.
- The edges of a flat iron tend to gather charred material and dust. Additionally, cleaning your tool on a regular basis can help to keep your hair looking its best. To remove the residue, spray a cold flatiron with alcohol and let it sit for a few minutes. While the plates are still warm, use a moist cloth to wipe them off.
- The heat from any flat iron might harm your hair’s texture and moisture content. If your hair is already dry or damaged, flat iron hair style can only aggravate the situation. Before using a flat iron, take an honest look at your hair’s condition and make any necessary repairs using moisturizing shampoos and conditioners and deep-penetrating hair restorative treatments before even considering flat irons.
- If you have long or thick hair, you’ll get better results with flat iron that has plates that are 1 inch to max 2 inches wide. With a bigger iron, you can smooth out greater parts with less time spent flat ironing. If your hair is fine or short, you’ll need a flat iron that’s half an inch or less wide since you’ll be working with fewer portions of hair.
- Take a break from the chemical hair styling every now and then and go natural! Like your face, your hair also needs a rest from heat styling from time to time, just as it does from cosmetics on your face. When air-drying your hair, try applying a mousse or texturizing spray to give your style some structure and volume. You should wash your long hair the night before if you have thick or long hair and hate the thought of going out with it damp. By doing this, your hair will have a chance to settle and dry over night.
Flat irons may cause permanent hair damage if:
- If the iron’s metal plates are of lower quality.
- If the iron isn’t cleaned after each use, product accumulation might cause damage to the hair.
- They’re set too high on the heat.
- When ironing without using a heat protection product.
- When the iron is run over the same piece of hair more than once.
- When using a hot iron on damp or wet hair.
- When using a flat iron on a regular basis for a lengthy period of time, it might affect the natural wave, curl, or coil patterns of your hair.
You can heal flat-iron damaged hair when:
- Using hair treatments that go deep helps hydrate the hair’s cortex.
- Moisture and hydration are returned to the hair.
- Using a ceramic-infused tourmaline plate flat iron.
- By not going over the same piece of hair with an iron more than once while styling with flat iron.
- Not using any heat on your hair for at least a week.
It’s preferable to avoid using heat styling equipment altogether. Heat styling is more of a formal event vibe. Think about it that way.
Heat styling is more of a formal event vibe. Think about it that way. Alternatively, if you’re a heat-style junkie like me, you should learn to work swiftly and use restorative strengthening shampoos and conditioners on your hair. The best time to start developing healthy hair habits is right now and it’s never too late, even if your hair has already been damaged by using too much heat in the past.
Creative, versatile, and passionate about her craft, Rupa Das is a well-recognized name in the world of fashion and makeup! This is a woman who has been in the fashion and makeup industry for 24 years and is still one of the leading international makeup artist in the circuit! She has worked in big brands like Lakme, Green Trends, Colors and transitioned to become a Beauty (Hair & Skin) Trainer.