A new report claims that heated hair styling appliance sales are on the rise worldwide, across all age groups – especially among men.
The forward-looking ReportLinked Global Market Study on Hair Care Appliances for 2017-2026 states that the number of men buying items such as hair dryers and hair straighteners is forming a growing trend.
Men appear to like the fact that these pieces of kit can be bought online at their convenience. But when it comes to actually using them, are men aware of the potentially damaging risks of regular heat-styling?
Here we look at the key types of devices and how best to use them in order to prevent hair loss and minimise chances of breakage. It is worth noting first though, the condition of your hair is an important factor; the finer the hair, or if the hair is over-processed, from bleaching for example, the more likely it is to be susceptible to damage.
How potentially damaging a hair dryer can be to your hair depends on a couple of key factors: how long your hair is and how often you wash it. It is advisable for good hair and scalp health to wash your hair every day or every other day for Caucasian and Asian hair types, though less frequently is often fine for Afro hair.
If you have short hair, chances are you don’t spend long drying it – in this case, as long as you follow some basic guidelines, regular hairdryer use should not pose a problem.
If you have longer hair – chin/collar length or longer – you may need to take a little longer to dry your hair, which, when coupled with frequent washing – and therefore frequent blow-drying – could be a little more problematic. However, there are some easy steps to take in order to minimise any heat damage.
Firstly, do not be put off from washing your hair as often as it needs; freshly washed hair tends to look fuller and healthier – as well as smelling nice and making you feel good! Secondly, use a heat protector spray, this is not a styling product – though combination products which style the hair whilst protecting it from high temperatures are available, often in the form of a balm, mousse or gel. It is important to use enough to lightly coat the hair without weighing it down – otherwise it may end up looking flat – so follow the instructions on the packaging.
Your hair should be towel- or air-dried until it is around 80 per cent dry before you put a brush anywhere near it. Hair is at its most fragile when and is less malleable and more prone to damage when dry, so damp is the perfect texture . Ideally use a wide-toothed comb or a specialist brush like a Tangle Teezer, which is specifically designed to be more gentle on damp hair.
Next, when using the hairdryer opt for a medium or even a cool temperature setting. Many such appliances are able to reach temperatures that can be damaging to the hair, leaving it frazzled and dull, in severe cases resulting in hair breakage. This is where strands of hair snap along the shaft, leaving behind frizzy split ends where the hair has broken in two. This tends to give the unwanted appearance of dry, thin hair so always either check your heat setting is on the appropriate selection or buy a hair dryer which has a maximum temperature that does not exceed the recommended upper limit of 185 degrees C.
When using a hair-dryer it is important to keep the nozzle at least a forearm’s distance from your head, directing the air in the same direction as your hair growth, and – to prevent burning – keep the dryer moving.
Hair straighteners / flat irons and heated hairbrushes
The scare stories – and YouTube videos – of people’s hair breaking off whilst using scorching hair straighteners are legion. Furthermore, many flat irons – especially older models – tend to be capable of reaching searing temperatures way above the recommended maximum. In these cases the heat may be so intense that it can actually cause the hair to melt. In fact, a report from the leading hair straightener brand, ghd, advised that temperatures of 210 degrees C and above can literally destroy the hair’s cortex.
Neither men’s hair styling routines nor women’s should include daily use of straightening irons. Occasional use is generally fine as long as the necessary precautions – using a heat protector spray and choosing an appropriate temperature where possible – are taken.
The same rules that apply for hair straighteners are true of heated straightening brushes. These are devices shaped like a chunky paddle brush but with ceramic plates under the brush’s teeth which maintain a constant temperature. As long as a heat protector is applied properly before use, the tool is used as directed, does not exceed 185 degrees C and is not used too often, this is unlikely to be too troubling for your hair.
Preventing hair loss from heat-styling
In the case of either of the hair straightening devices mentioned, if the hair is already weakened – whether from chemical processing (bleaching, dyeing, or relaxing for example) or due to thinning hair caused either by a temporary hairloss condition or Male Pattern Baldness, it is generally best to avoid them.
Men with Afro hair who want to try a straighter look have the option of trying African Threading, a no-heat technique that is becoming increasingly popular with the Natural Hair movement. Because of the difference in textures, this practice is unsuitable – due to its inefficiency – for other hair types.
One of the key pointers when it comes to heated hair-stylers is not to let them touch your scalp. It may sound obvious but it’s easily done and if you burn your scalp, hair growth may be difficult if the area scars over, given destroyed hair follicles can no longer produce hair.
As the interest in men’s haircare and styling grows, and women seek more technologically-advanced hairstyling solutions, companies are vying to create ever more innovative products that are less harmful to hair. Anyone concerned their hair may already be suffering due to heat-styling issues, or if excessive breakage and shedding is apparent, getting a professional opinion may be worthwhile.
At Belgravia our team of dedicated specialists can perform an assessment then provide their expert diagnosis, advice and – where necessary – personalised recommendations for tailored hair loss treatment courses. These may feature clinically-proven medications paired with supporting hair growth booster products, such as the clinic’s exclusive premium food supplement, Hair Vitalics for Men.
This contains a bespoke blend of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and botanical extracts, including selenium, zinc and biotin known to help maintain healthy hair growth. These one-a-day tablets are available to both clients and non-clients and can be purchased directly from the hairvitalics.com website.
We would also recommend taking advantage of any warmer weather to let your hair dry naturally, simply use a styling product to tame or add definition and hold. Not such an appealing prospect during the colder months but still something to aim for as often as possible so you give your hair a break from regular heat-styling.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.