Heat Damage and Repair Remedies
by Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams
A number of women are concerned of the type of damage that can be caused by heat styling and the options of repairing the damage to the hair shaft. Each shaft of the hair has about 7 to 12 layers of cuticle scales. Their job is to protect the inside of the shaft, known as the cortex. In healthy hair, the scales should lie flat and compact. There are several ways these scales can be damaged.
Friction caused by combing and brushing; rubber bands and tight hair clips; wrapping a roller too tightly and heat styling will create cracks and damage to the cuticle. The damage caused by heat styling includes blistering and fracturing of the hair. Microscopic examination of the hair shows small nodes seen as grey-white or yellow specks on the affected hair shafts. The hair tends to break at the sites of the nodes, leading to patchy or diffuse hair loss.
The heat from a hot curling iron left on too long or a blow dryer too hot and too close to the hair will cause the hair to become brittle and the cortex can possibly melt. So what do you do to repair the damage that is caused by excessive heat styling and mechanical damage?
To correct this form of hair loss, you must cut off the damaged part of the hair shaft and transition to a style that will create less stress on your hair. There are products on the market that will provide temporary repair to the cuticle, but the key word is “temporary.” Products that claim to fix damaged hair only put a Band-Aid on the problem because the real damage is at the cortex level of the hair shaft. Removing the damaged portion of the hair completely is the only guaranteed way to get the healthy hair results you desire.
There are a few steps you can take to prevent the damage that comes from excessive heat styling:
- Change your hair styling routine- Limit the use of heated instruments on your hair and also try using them on lower settings
- Choose heat protectants- Apply a heat protectant to your strands before using any form of heat for an added barrier of protection and for the prevention of breakage
- Don’t forget the importance of moisture- One of the main sources of hair damage is dryness. Without sufficient moisture the hair shaft becomes dry, brittle and susceptible to breakage. Make sure you are using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. When conditioning your hair, deep condition, which means to leave the conditioner on 10-15 minutes and incorporate steam or heat for deeper penetration of the hair shaft.