The truth behind hair straighteners

It should come as no surprise that styling your hair with heat – straightening irons in particular – can potentially damage it. But what happens when you straighten your hair everyday?

A third of all women own a hair straightener to smooth down unruly hairs, but the hair-raising facts behind using a straightener might make you think twice before reaching for your heated tongs.

Brace yourself ladies, because yes, your hair straightener can cause some serious breakage that could potentially lead to your tresses falling out!

According to Dr. Tim Moore, Chief Technical Officer at ghd’s Research and Development Facility in Cambridge, “A lot of irons on the market have temperature dials up to 230 degrees, which is very bad for hair… it literally melts it.”

Consistently styling your hair at these high temperatures can change the colour of your hair permanently and dramatically reduce its ‘tensile strength’ – meaning that your hair strands will break halfway and then fall out. So basically, all that hair breakage that’s living in your brush is actually avoidable. But before you freak out and think you have to toss your beloved hair straightener, you can still use it, just on a lower heat setting.

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When it comes to overheating, women with thick or curly hair tend to be the worst culprits. It’s a common misconception that going hotter will wield better results, when in fact more pressure will see your hair flattening a lot better than pumping up the heat.

“This is a physics thing – there’s a difference between temperature and heat,” explains Dr Moore. “When you’ve got really thick hair, you need to pump in more energy, but you don’t need any more temperature.”For the best results, use a straightener that responds quickly but maintains a consistent heat level.

The worst thing you can do for your hair is straightening it while it’s still wet or damp. You know that cringe worthy sizzling sound you hear when you clamp down on damp hair? That’s not supposed to happen.

“The temperature at which damage to your hair occurs actually drops with wetness. The glass transition phase temperature does the same thing. So for instance, if hair is 50 per cent wet, the temperature at which you can damage it has dropped to around about 100 degrees celcius,” he explains.

“So if you put a styler, even one of ours at 185 degrees, onto wet hair you’ll cause considerable damage. Essentially, water in the hair is suddenly expanding, it’s basically exploding the hair.”

He also warns that although some hair straightener available claim to work from wet to dry – this technology doesn’t actually exist. You should always ensure your hair is completely dry before exposing it to any heat based styling.

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To try an overcome the damaging effects of hair straightening, deep conditioning treatment, or simple hair TLC can make a difference. When you wash your hair, leave your conditioner in for 5-minutes so your locks can soak in the extra moisture. Although, once you damage your hair too much, the only way to repair it is to grow it out entirely.

As much as we might want to – it’s probably best to air on the side of caution when it comes to using heated products.

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