Heat Damage and Repair Remedies by Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams

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:

  1. Change your hair styling routine- Limit the use of heated instruments on your hair and also try using them on lower settings
  2. 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
  3. 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.

Dr. Kari is a Trichologist and Owner of Mahogany Hair Revolution in Los Angeles, CA. For more information visit: www.drkariwilliams.com and www.mahoganyrevolution.com

“Weak Hair Shafts, Split Ends and Breakage…Oh My!” by Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams

I often hear women complaining that their hair is not growing. Let me put these fears at ease by lovingly confirming – As long as you are living and breathing, your hair is growing. If you genuinely feel like you are seeing no growth in your hair, the length of your hair has remained the same for years AND you are following every hair regimen you can find on YouTube, research on Google and concoct yourself; then I have the answer to your problem.

Your hair IS growing, but there is something happening to the ends of your hair that is causing it to break. Consequently, you are not retaining length. There are a number of culprits that could be responsible for the breakage you are experiencing, so lets explore a couple of them.

Hot combing the hair can cause various kinds of damage to the hair. Hot combs can get as hot as 400 degrees and when used improperly, can significantly weaken the hair shaft. It is a misconception that only chemical relaxers can permanently straighten the hair. I am sure that some of you reading this article have experienced permanent straight ends after prolonged use of the hot comb. This is because the heat from the comb can completely denature the proteins in your hair shaft like a chemical relaxer.  More importantly, there are water molecules in each hair shaft. If the comb is too hot when it passes through the hair, the water in each hair strand will expand, turn into steam, rise through the cortex of the hair and break through the protective cuticle. When this happens holes are left in the cuticle causing the hair shaft to become very weak and making it susceptible to breakage. To avoid this type of damage to your hair shaft with the use of a hot comb:

  • Stop using the hot comb!
  • If you must use the hot comb, insist on a professional performing the service for you.
  • Do not use the hot comb more than once a week
  • Make sure the hot comb is used on CLEAN, dry hair
  • Excessive heat or pressure should never be used when using a hot comb

*Important note: Some blow dryers can cause this type of heat damage when the hair is blow dryed at high temperatures. Ever see those little white specks located towards the end of your hair shaft? Well, your cuticle has erupted, exposing your cortex, just like someone who has improperly used a hot comb.

Weak hair shafts will develop split ends. Split ends can be repaired temporarily but to get rid of them permanently they must be cut off.  When they are not cut off the split ends will tangle with healthy hair, causing more tangling, which will lead to more breakage and more split ends. Women who wear their hair naturally (heat-free and chemical free) can still develop split ends.

Oftentimes they are caused because the hair is excessively dry from lack of properly lubricating the ends. When this dry hair is manipulated in styling, these dry ends will break and cause split-ends. The over-use of leave in conditioners is the culprit of many people who suffer with dry hair as well. Conditioners have protein and too much protein on the hair will cause hair to become dry and brittle. Make sure you are using a daily moisturizer on the hair, balanced with a lubricant (oil). This will protect your natural curls from dryness.

So, if you feel like your hair is not growing, make sure you check your hair routine and the products you are using.

 If you like what you read here, make sure you attend my upcoming seminar in LA. To get more detailed information visit: http://allthingsnatural.eventbrite.com