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Using hot tools like blow dryers, flat irons, and curling irons to style your hair is a great way to achieve the look you want, but it also increases your risk of heat damaged hair. Some tools don't allow for temperature control, so you may not know the exact level of heat being applied to your hair. Certain flat irons and curling irons allow you to choose your heat, but when these tools reach a temperature of 450°F, you might go for the max heat for the best result.
While using hot tools gives you a more polished straight style or perfect curl, the high temperatures can negatively impact the health of your hair. Damaged hair occurs when the cuticle of your hair, which acts as a protector and shield for the inner cortex, is broken. The cortex is what makes your hair elastic and strong. When it's compromised, hair becomes weak and susceptible to breakage.
Whether you have straight or curly hair, you'll likely notice an excess of frizz and tangles while trying to brush or comb through your hair. You may also experience a change in texture, and your hair might not cooperate as it once did.
Damaged hair becomes brittle and breaks easily. Your hair might look dull and dry, and the appearance of split ends is more noticeable. It can also be challenging to get your hair to lie flat. Read on to learn more about the signs of heat damaged hair.
The cuticles of your hair are what make it shiny. When the cuticles are damaged, your hair loses its shine. After washing your hair, it should be brighter than when it was dirty. If it's dull, that's one of the first signs you have heat damaged hair. Dryness also contributes to dull hair. Damaged hair doesn't properly maintain moisture, leaving your tresses dehydrated and prone to breakage.
Heat damaged hair loses elasticity because applying heat on a regular basis affects the hair’s ability to retain moisture. When hair becomes dehydrated, it becomes stiffer and more difficult to work with, often resulting in split ends. Split ends, medically known as trichoptilosis or schizotrichia, are when the tips of your hair fray or physically split apart. This usually happens at the ends, but splits can happen higher up the strand as well. There are a few types of splits. A basic split where the hair divides in two, a multiple split where the hair resembles tree branches, and a cuticle split is where part of the cuticle is lost but the cortex remains.
Split ends weaken your hair’s structure, increasing the chances that your hair will break off. Exposing your hair to frequent high heat also increases your risk of breakage because it loses its elasticity. If you've ever noticed short pieces of hair that stick up, they're likely pieces of hair that have broken off. Your hair can break when it's wet or dry. If it's gotten tangled, your hair may break as you work through the knots. To test for breakage, pull on a strand of hair. Healthy hair has some stretch. If the strand doesn't stretch and breaks, it's a sign of damaged hair.
Split ends weaken your hair’s structure, increasing the chances that your hair will break off. Exposing your hair to frequent high heat also increases your risk of breakage because it loses its elasticity. If you have ever noticed short pieces of hair that stick up, they are likely pieces of hair that have broken off. Your hair can break when it is wet or dry. If it has gotten tangled, your hair may break as you work through the knots. To test for breakage, pull on a strand of hair. Healthy hair has some stretch. If the strand does not stretch and breaks, it is a sign of damaged hair.
Using hot tools, especially at high temperatures, strips the moisture from your strands. This leaves the hair cuticles open to damage, which prevents your hair from lying flat. Flyaways are often a sign of breakage and are short hair strands that stand up after breaking off near the roots. Flyaways can be difficult to manage and tame and can affect the overall look of your hair, especially if you're trying for a sleek and polished style.
To determine if the texture has changed, run your fingers through your hair. Heat damaged curly hair may lose its spring and not bounce back the way it did when your hair was healthy. Damaged straight hair can go from feeling smooth and silky to feeling rough and coarse. You may even describe heat damaged hair as feeling frayed or singed at the tips.
Hair cuticles are made up of “shingles”. When hair is healthy, the shingles all lie flat together. When their hair cuticles become damaged, the shingles begin to stick out, causing strands of hair to easily knot with other strands. Knots and tangles make brushing or combing your hair more difficult and can lead to further breakage. They can happen after showering or during the day, especially if you're outside and the wind is blowing your hair around.
Heat damaged hair can't properly retain color. If your hair has become too porous, it might absorb too much of the dye and make your hair darker than you intended. Porosity is how well your hair can not only absorb but also retain moisture. High porosity means that the cuticles are damaged and open. Your hair color might also fade faster than normal. Because damaged hair has high porosity, it releases more color when you wash.
The average person has approximately 80,000 to 120,000 hairs on their head. Hair strands grow for 2 to 6 years, and it's normal to shed hairs. During these 2 to 6 years, strands collect damage. If you have heat damaged hair, your strands have been weakened, and you might notice you're losing more hair than normal when you brush or shower. This could be because of a lack of protein since damaged hair experiences break downs in the bonds – fats, oils, water, and protein - that make up each strand.
Knowing the signs of heat damaged hair will help you determine if that's what you're dealing with, and it allows you to start taking steps to get your hair in a healthy state once again.
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