Say Goodbye To Heat Damage: 8 Simple Styling Tips That Will Transform Your Locks

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Written by Sophie Mara

Updated: April 8, 2024

Heat Styling In Content
image via @bluxom

It’s hardly a surprise that heat tools are bad news for our hair, we’ve been hearing about the negative effects for decades. That said, you might be shocked at how quickly the damage happens and how lasting the effects can be.

Don’t worry, we’re not here to tell you to retire your heat tools altogether, we can’t even stick to that ourselves! Instead, we’ll share some need-to-know info about what all that heat could be doing to your hair, plus some achievable tips on minimizing heat tool usage, and how to protect your precious tresses when you do switch them on.

#1. Stop Maxing Out The Temperature On Your Heat Tools… For Good!

Do you plug in your straightener or curling wand, flick the switch, and immediately turn the dial all the to the top? You’re not alone, but you are probably damaging your hair. Too hot tools can change the shape of your hair’s keratin (the strands) or even weaken them so much that they snap. Also, while you probably won’t see any damage from just one heat styling session if the temperature is set too high, it can happen instantly. 

So what temperature is best? The truth is it’s different for everybody, but as a rule of thumb, we recommend setting the temperature to no higher than 180ºC/356ºF. Provided you’re not heat styling your hair every single day, this setting, plus a heat protectant, should protect your locks from burning or weakening. 

You may need a slightly higher temperature if your hair is thicker or coarser but keep it as low as possible. Holding your hair for less time on maximum heat is much more damaging than holding it on for a few seconds longer on a lower one. We also bet you’ll be surprised at how achievable and long-lasting your style is with a lower temperature than you’re used to. Give it a try!

#2. Try Heatless Curls (Yes, Even If You’ve Tried Them Before)

Heat 1 450 x 560
image via @ashyavenue_shop

We know, we know. You’ve tried them already, it didn’t work, and we definitely did that too the first time around. After all, wrapping your locks around a sock, drifting off to sleep, and then waking up with cascading curls seemed like a pretty easy way to achieve a salon-worthy blowout overnight, but well all know there is a little more to it. 

Don’t fret, it’s still a super quick and easy way to style your hair with minimal effort and zero heat. It’s just worth following these steps to make sure the curls actually stay in for longer than five minutes.

  • Firstly, brush out your hair before wrapping because nobody wants bumpy curls 
  • Apply a mousse before wrapping the hair, this will give your curls staying power
  • Wrap small sections of hair at a time, adding more as you go rather than wrapping all the hair around once
  • Leave the curls to develop for at least 7 hours, 9-10 is even better
  • When you remove your curling tube (or sock, robe tie, or whatever you use for heatless curls!) let them sit for ten minutes before combing them out
  • After combing, apply hairspray to prevent your style from dropping

#3. Always, Always Use A Heat Protectant

Is it tempting to skip this step? Yes. Have we all done it from time to time? Also yes.

It takes just a few seconds, but we’ve all been guilty of just not bothering (or totally forgetting) to apply heat protectant before blow drying, straightening, or curling our hair. The problem is, whenever we do this, we damage our hair just a little more.

Our hair isn’t designed to withstand literal cookie-baking temperatures over long periods. Inevitably, it will dry out, start to break, and give you split ends over time. Do your hair a favor and treat your locks before every heat-styling session.  

#4. Take Breaks

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image via @vivalablonde

Putting away your heat tools may sound impossible, and we get it because they make your hair look so darn good! However, without giving your hair breaks between heat styling and allowing it to rest, recover, and rehydrate, you’re going to see damage pretty quickly. 

Truly, even if you take great care of your hair, never skip the conditioner, always apply weekly hair masks, and apply heat protectants religiously, constant heat styling will still take its toll. So start small, reduce your heat styling by one day a week, and see how that works.

You can always skip more days if you can/want to in the future. Trust us, you’ll be surprised just how quickly your hair changes. Feeling softer, stronger, and shinier after just a few weeks and coming back to near full health in two to three months. 

#5. Keep Up With Regular Trims 

If you have damaged your hair and feel there’s no way to get back your lustrous locks, have hope, there is a way out. Whilst all the hair masks in the world and regular conditioning treatments might not be working for you, trimming off the heat-damaged parts of your hair definitely will.

In fact, it’s the only way to completely remove heat-damaged hair so booking in with your stylist for regular trims is always a good idea. 

#6. Make Sure Your Hair Is Fully Dry

Hopefully, you’ve never heard the sizzle of a hot curling iron or straightener on your wet or damp hair. If you have, you know the importance of making sure your hair is completely dry before you even think about flicking that switch.

Wet or damp hair is in its most fragile state. The keratin bonds that make up the strands are at their weakest and prone to stretching and even snapping. This is bad enough when you’re running a brush through your hair. Just think of all the damage you could do with all that extreme heat, twisting, and clamping.

It’s a recipe for disaster and will almost certainly damage your hair. So, ensure you’re running your fingers gently through your hair beforehand checking for damp patches. This is especially important for thicker, coarser hair where those damp spots might not be quite so obvious. 

#7. Invest In High-Quality Heat Tools

If you think the only consideration when purchasing new heat tools is how hot they get, think again. Nine times out of ten, high-quality heat tools are a much better investment than their lower-priced alternatives.

Firstly, they’re made from higher quality materials which can help to minimize damage as you style. Ceramic is better for hair prone to heat damage, whilst titanium plates get hot quickly so work really well for thick coarse hair. This also means you’re minimizing the amount of passes you need to straighten (or curl) your hair.   

#8. Hydrate Your Hair 

As you might have guessed, dry hair is prone to damage since it has no reserves to combat the moisture lost whilst heat styling your locks. To make sure you don’t damage or dry out your hair even further when styling, treat your locks to regular moisturizing treatments.

Conditioning your hair every time you wash it is essential and a good place to start, but topping up those moisture levels with highly nourishing masks at least once a week? That’ll make your heat-styled hair happier, healthier, and shinier than ever!

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