It’s Too Darn Hot: Fix Heat-Damaged Hair
Posted by ashley lake on March 22, 2012 at 1:49 PM
In the summer, I hate to dry my hair…it’s just too hot. One of the many great things about the warm-weather months is that the casual vibe allows you to wash and go, giving your hair a much-needed break from heat styling (and giving you a few extra minutes in bed). But your hair still could be damaged from the treatments and styling you did while the snow was falling. If your tresses are showing signs of damage, here are the two most common types and simple steps for nursing your mane back to health.
Too many chemical treatments, like highlights and hair straightening, sap strands of natural moisture, leaving them dull and brittle. Chemicals penetrate into the hair and eat away at the protective lipid layer, which is what keeps your locks nourished and glossy.
How to heal: Do a steam treatment once a week to help open the cuticles and let your conditioner really seep in to rehab your hair. Here's how: After shampooing, apply a deep conditioner with protein and essential fatty acids to wet hair. Try L’Oreal Everstrong Deep Replenishing Masque. Microwave a big bowl of water for three minutes, then put on rubber cleaning gloves to prevent your hands from getting burned. Quickly dunk a medium-size towel into the bowl, wring out excess water, let it cool for a few seconds, and then wrap it turban-style around your hair. After five minutes, rinse. Another option? Channel your grandma and use the conditioner with a cap in the shower.
Hot tools such as hair dryers and curling irons fry off your hair's cuticles, the first line of defense against dryness, leaving the inner cortex exposed. The parched cortex is left no choice but to soak up moisture from the air to compensate, causing frizz. Yuck! And if you continue using hot tools on damaged hair, it will become even more brittle and eventually break off completely.
How to heal: Prior to blow-drying, towel-dry hair (pat, don't rub) and spritz on a heat protectant with panthenol—it will help evenly distribute heat, and coat and condition areas that are already damaged and weak. Try Pantene Pro-V Medium-Thick Style Heat Protection & Shine Spray.
Then use a dryer with a powerful airflow, which reduces styling time and minimizes heat exposure. Be sure to use a nozzle attachment to create a safe distance between your hair and the dryer's piping-hot metal coil. Try Remington Fast Finish Hair Dryer ($28).
If you flatiron, go over each section just once and turn down the heat. 360°F is enough for fine hair; use 410°F for thicker strands. If you use a curling iron, curl each section once and use styling products that allow you to keep the iron on your hair for a maximum of a few seconds.
Good to Know: The 10-Second Healthy Hair Test
Want to check your progress after implementing these steps? Pluck a strand from your head and drop it into a cup of water. The faster and deeper it sinks, the less protein and moisture it has. If you hair floats, it's healthy.