How to Protect Your Hair When Using a Flat Iron

When using heat styling tools on your hair, it is important to take the necessary steps to protect your hair or you could end up with some very undesirable results.

Many people do not realize that even the highest quality professional ceramic and tourmaline flat irons can have a damaging effect on your hair if used incorrectly or too frequently, or if your hair is not adequately protected. Heat damage to your hair is hard to repair, and most of the time you will have to cut your hair to get rid of the damage.

As you probably know, temporarily straightening your hair with a flat iron is done by applying heated plates to the length of your hair. The heat straightens your hair by breaking and then reforming the hydrogen bonds in the inside of your hair. When the right precautions are not taken, this can harm your hair's outer protective layer causing weakness and breakage.

Flat ironing your hair (or any type of heat styling) can cause two different types of damage to your hair cuticle. The kind of damage that occurs depends on whether your hair is styled while it is wet or dry. There are products that can be used to make the damage appear less noticeable, but your hair is not able to "heal", so the damage never actually goes away until you cut your hair.

    * Heat styling dry hair causes radial and axial cracking along the edges of the hair cuticle, which makes your hair weaker and can lead to breakage, chipping and split ends. Most of the time these effects are severe enough that they cannot be reversed and you would have to cut your hair to get rid of the damage.
    * Heat styling wet or damp hair causes the water in the hair to explode out in little moisture bursts. This causes a buckling and bubbling effect on the hair cuticle along the entire length of your hair, and has the appearance of a blister when you look at it closely.

Since heat damage to your hair is hard (if not impossible) to repair, it's much easier to try to avoid it altogether. Heat styling, when done properly, can cause only minimal damage that you won't even be able to notice. It is possible to flat iron your hair and keep it healthy, shiny, and smooth at the same time! Here are some tips for reducing heat damage when using a ceramic flat iron:

    * Do not flat iron (or heat style) your hair every day. The more frequently you do it, the more damage you are causing to your hair. It has been recommended by dermatologists to not straighten your hair more than three times a week.
    * Make sure your hair is moisturized! Before you style, wash your hair with a good moisturizing shampoo and use a good conditioner that restores moisture to the hair shaft. You can also use a leave-in conditioner for added moisture and protection. It is also a good idea to do a restorative deep conditioning treatment on your hair once a week.
    * When you have the time, do not blow dry your hair, and let it air dry before you flat iron it. Wet hair is much more susceptible to damage than dry hair is, and applying the heat of a blow dryer while your hair is wet can cause distress. It can also over-dry your hair, making it appear dull and brittle.
    * If you don't have the time to let your hair dry naturally and you must blow dry it (use an ionic blow dryer if possible), make sure you use a protective spray all throughout your hair, and use the cool setting on your hair dryer.
    * Before you begin to flat iron your hair, make sure it is completely dry (unless you are using a wet-to-dry flat iron). Wet hair and heat are not a good combination because your hair is weaker when it is wet and it can be damaged more easily.
    * After all moisture is gone from your hair, smooth in a heat protectant product. These are oils and serums that give your hair an extra defense against the heat and add a layer of protection between your hair and the flat iron. They also make your hair more manageable and shiny.
    * Use a flat iron with variable temperature controls, so you can decide how hot you want it to be. Use the lowest heat setting possible that will get the job done.
    * Use a high quality flat iron with ceramic or tourmaline plates instead of metal plates. Ceramic and tourmaline materials produce far-infrared heat and negative ions that lock in your hairs natural oils and moisture to prevent it from drying out. Ceramic and tourmaline flat irons are also better at combating frizz, and also give you much sleeker and smoother results than a metal flat iron. It is definitely worth it to spend more money on a quality flat iron that will not cause nearly as much damage.

Although damage to your hair cannot be completely prevented if you intend to use heat styling tools, it can be drastically reduced if you take the steps to protect your hair. Flat irons enable women of all hair types and textures to have beautiful straight and silky hair, and if you are going to use one just make sure you protect your hair!

Visit for more information about different types of flat irons, guidelines on how to choose a flat iron, and reviews of popular models.

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