If you use heat on your hair, make sure you do these 4 things first

woman using curling iron on hair

Blow drying, straightening, curling, waving, and more — your hair takes a beating when you use heat to style it. Hot tools are great for making hair look fabulous, but over time, heat styling can seriously damage your hair. Breakage, dryness, and split ends are just a few of the consequences of heat styling your hair regularly. If you heat style your hair often, you know that giving it up altogether is not an option. So what do you do to prevent all that damage? Working the following tricks into your hair care routine will reduce the damage your hair takes and improve your hair’s overall health.

1. Start in the shower

Healthy hair starts in the shower — no matter how well you treat your hair, it won’t matter if you’re not cleansing, hydrating, and conditioning properly. Since heat styling regularly can damage your hair’s outer layer (the cuticle), your hair can lose moisture, break easier, and become brittle. Using a shampoo and conditioner spiked with protein, also referred to as keratin, will help repair your cuticle layer and make your hair less likely to tear and split. It is also essential to use shampoos and conditioners free from harmful sulfates and parabens since these ingredients will also leave your hair dry and brittle.

2.Protect

Regardless of your hair type, maximizing your hair’s strength is vital if you heat style often. Try at-home remedies for dry hair. And then, in addition to protein-rich shampoos and conditioners, take the time to apply a weekly treatment (or, at the very least, use one of the best heat protection sprays). Most deep treatments don’t take more than 10 minutes, and the time is well worth it. Most masks give your hair an extra protein boost and hydrating ingredients such as argan and jojoba oils. These oils replenish moisture that is lost during the heat-styling process. For best results, apply your hair mask in the steamy bath or shower since the heat will help with absorption.

3. Be gentle

Once you boost protein and protect your hair with a deep treatment, take it easy on your hair. This means turning down the heat on your straightener and blow dryer. It’s hard to know how to straighten hair without heat, but you can definitely straighten it with less heat. While some hair types may need a higher temperature than others, it is a good idea to stay between the 200- to 300-degree range. Thicker hair will end up on the high end of this scale, and thin hair should remain on the low end. As a general rule, your tool’s highest setting is probably too high and definitely not necessary.

Also, when brushing or styling, try to be gentle. If you’re using a flat iron, slowly move it through your hair; don’t rush it. And, don’t pass over the same part of your hair more than once — several passes with a heated tool will break down your hair faster. For detangling, start at the ends of your hair, use a wide-toothed comb, and then slowly work up to your roots. When towel drying, gently squeeze, don’t rub. Craft a good hair-care routine which allows you to observe proper, gentle care and caution to decrease breakage and splitting.

4. Protect it again

It may seem excessive, but a heat protectant in addition to your protein-rich shower care and the weekly mask will help ensure your hair is safe when blow-drying or ironing. It will help if you think of heat treatment like sunscreen: Apply generously and thoroughly, and be sure all strands are coated evenly. It is best to apply heat treatments when your hair is about half-dry, so leave hair in a towel or lightly towel dry before applying. You don’t want to dilute the heat treatment with soaking wet hair, so use that concept as a guide for when to apply.

Final tips

As with most things, moderation is essential when it comes to heat and hair. If there are days that you can give your hair a break from heat styling, do it. Your hair will thank you in the long run if you don’t over-do heat styling and let it air dry once in a while. Also, if you’re shopping for flat or curling irons, choose models that have ceramic, porcelain, or tourmaline plates. These materials conduct heat evenly and won’t form hot spots like cheaper materials will.

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