We’ve come a long way since straightening your hair involved using the same iron you’d use on your clothes, but with all the tools available now, has heat-styling gone too far?
Some of today’s hair straighteners and curling tongs can reach temperatures of 450 degrees – that’s enough to set a piece of paper on fire so it’s no surprise to find that overuse can also lead to hair loss.
As a response, Purdue University in Indiana, America is trying to provide cold, hard facts as to exactly how hot is too hot when it comes to your hair.
Investigating heated hair styling
Assistant professor of mechanical engineering, Tahira Reid, is currently leading a team of researchers who are investigating the tipping point temperature from which different hair types can no longer recover. She told CBS news, “We are doing research to understand how does heat move through different hair types. We’re interested in understanding the point at which heat begins to cause permanent structural changes in the hair.”
“I’m advocating for information that`s empirical, that`s solid and it’s not motivated by any marketing agenda,” she adds. “…I’m not a marketer I’m an engineer that likes truth, facts, data.”
The research involves subjecting different racial hair types – Afro, Asian and Caucasian – to the types of cleansing and styling rituals people would carry out at home, or have done in salons, then recording each outcome. In order to establish these differences, the team are using methods which are generally employed for strengthening the composite materials used in ropes.
It is now widely reported that the ideal maximum temperature for heat-styling – including blow-drying hair – is 185 degrees C. Using lower temperatures, as well as air-drying hair, is – of course – preferred.
Hair loss from heat styling
When the hair is constantly subjected to intense levels of heat – whether from styling tools or even from a hairdryer – it can become brittle and dry. This can lead to hair breakage which is where the hair snaps along its shaft, giving the appearance of frizzy, thin hair. Whilst it is not a desirable situation for anyone, those with thinning hair should be particularly careful to avoid this type of styling damage as it can make the hair look even more sparse.
This type of breakage is not actually a hair loss condition as it involves damage to the shaft rather than the hair follicle. In extreme cases, a hair loss specialist may be able to help but there are also effective steps for dealing with minimal-to-moderate breakage yourself.
The best way to manage this is to first stop any unnecessary heat styling and if you must blow dry your hair, use a heat protecting product first. Secondly visit your hairdresser for a good haircut that can get rid of any split ends caused by breakage. This does not necessarily involve having to cut your hair short – a common misconception – as layers and feathering techniques can also provide the same benefits whilst keeping length.
Lastly, aid your hair’s recovery by ensuring it gets constant nourishment. This can be done both topically, by using intensive strengthening conditioning treatments, and from within by taking specially targeted dietary supplements such as Hair Vitalics which deliver the necessary nutrients – including selenium, biotin, and zinc for healthy hair growth – helping to build up its strength and vitality. Regular use of an LLLT device like the HairMax LaserComb can also help to promote hair growth.
As the Indiana research is on-going, as soon as we have the report of their findings, we will publish this information here on the Belgravia blog so do check back for updates.
The Belgravia Centre
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.