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How can I protect my hair from damage from styling tools?

Styling tools can cause major damage. Follow these tips to save your hair.

  • Blow dryer: When your hair is wet, water collects under the cuticles (the outermost layer of the hair). The heat from blow drying causes the water to form bubbles that stress and break the hair, leading to split ends and dullness. Spacing out your blow-dry sessions can help minimize the risk of damage. But the key to a healthier blowout is to use cool air, or towel-dry, and then use low heat and hit the off button as soon as your hair feels dry.
  • Hot tools: Heating hair above 212 degrees (the temp at which water boils) just once can cause bubble hair. In this case, bubbles form inside your hair shaft, causing brittleness and breakage. Not using a hot tool every day helps minimize the risk, but when you do use your tool, don’t hold it on one spot. Keep it moving in a fluid motion.
  • Hot rollers: Hot rollers can dry out your hair, but the real danger here is rolling them too tight. Constant tension at the roots can cause the hair to fall out, so go easy.
  • Pressing: Pressing with a hot comb can cause all sorts of damage. The combs are generally heated to at least 150 degrees, which can make the hair prone to severe breakage. It’s best to leave it to a professional who has experience controlling heated combs. To minimize damage, don’t press your hair more than once a week.
  • Bobby pins: Bobby pins grip the hair tightly and cut into the hair shaft. Scale back on your bobby-pin usage, or move them around so you’re not hitting the same areas every time.
  • Elastic bands: The nature of elastic bands is to grip the hair tightly so it will stay in place, but that cuts into the hair shaft and causes fraying. Minimize damage by using thick, fabric-coated bands (never use rubbery elastics!) and give your ponytail a break, or consider shorter hair.
  • Brush: Brushing causes wear and tear on the hair’s cuticle (the outer layer). Brush with a gentle touch! Vigorously brushing your hair can cause all sorts of damage. Avoid metal brushes at all costs—they can actually lacerate the hair. Stick with smooth plastic or natural bristle, neither of which will snag the cuticle as much.
  • Comb: If you use a comb to detangle your hair, for best results, start from the bottom and gently work your way up. Vigorously pulling a comb through your hair from the top down can snap strands. A wide-tooth comb made from plastic or wood is best—always avoid metal combs, because metal can lacerate the hair.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.