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January 20, 2023 8 min read
How do you know if your hair has been permanently damaged from heat? Discover the signs of heat-damaged hair and how to revive it.
Thermal hair styling is an essential part of our daily life, and a great confidence booster that many women swear by. Getting awesome hairstyles in the matter of minutes can easily spice up your look for any occasion - and who doesn’t love that?
Unfortunately, heat styling can also cause serious damage to your hair, especially if you:
Finding the right tools and establishing a healthy heat styling process are two extremely important factors for ensuring that your hair always looks sleek, shiny and beautiful.
But before we get to that part, let’s take a look at the most common signs of heat-damaged hair - and how to know if it’s time that you make a change to your heat styling routine:
Before we start discussing the signs of heat-damaged hair, let’s answer one key question: how does heat damage hair?
Essentially, each hair strand is composed of three main parts:
Heat damages hair by altering the shape of the keratin proteins found in the cortex, converting them from ⍺-keratin to β-keratin. It breaks down the cuticle layer of the hair shaft and dries out moisture. Eventually, this leads to a structural change at a molecular level. The result is weaker hair which has less elasticity and is more prone to damage.
Now that we know exactly how heat damages hair, let’s take a look at some of the biggest signs of heat-damaged hair:
As we just mentioned, the frequent application of high heat causes the hair to lose moisture. High temperatures strip the natural oils of your hair, evaporate the water molecules which are found within the cortex, and crack the cuticle (the outer layer of your hair).
Considering that your hair is made of 12% to 15% water, this means that the water evaporation as a result of high heat will affect the protein structure of the hair, and will make it more vulnerable to further damage.
When the protective natural oils are stripped (which may happen not only because of heat damage, but also because of weather changes, malnutrition and other reasons), your hair will look and feel dry.
Which, let’s be honest - is not the best feeling!
Undoubtedly, one of the most common signs of heat-damaged hair are split ends. As we mentioned earlier, the regular application of high heat on hair negatively impacts its ability to retain moisture, and it causes it to lose elasticity.
When heat is applied, the disulfide cysteine bonds - of which the proteins in your hair strand are composed - are being broken down, weakening your hair and making it weaker.
This results in split ends, also known as trichoptilosis or schizotrichia - when the tips of your hair physically split apart.
This is an issue that most women encounter throughout their whole lives, and while it can be caused by different factors, the frequent application of high heat - especially with low-quality tools and without a thermal heat protectant - is one of the biggest culprits.
Among the most common signs of heat-damaged hair is frizziness. This means having a lot of hair that doesn’t align with the surrounding hair strands, but stands up or curls separately instead - which creates an irregular, frizzy texture.
Hair damage is one of the main causes for frizzy hair, along with other factors such as genetics and humidity. Exposing your hair to extremely high temperatures, or heat styling it while still wet, is a guarantee for frizzy, weakened hair that’s more susceptible to breakage.
Signs of heat-damaged hair: frizziness
When talking about the signs of heat-damaged hair, we can’t forget to mention hair porosity. Hair porosity is the ability of the hair to absorb and retain moisture - in other words, how hard is it for moisture to penetrate it?
If you have high porosity hair, this means that the cuticle has large gaps which allow moisture to enter easily.
However, because the gaps are so large, moisture can also leave the hair easily, which means that water and oils won’t stay long enough in order to nourish and moisturize the hair.
As opposed to high porosity hair, low porosity hair is characterized by the fact that the cuticles are packed very closely together, making it harder for moisture to enter the hair shaft.
In medium (normal porosity hair), the cuticles have just the right gap - neither too close together, nor too open. This means that moisture is able to penetrate the hair easily, and stays for a longer period of time.
Heat damage may cause hair with normal porosity to turn high over time, that’s why it’s important to take preventive measures (such as applying a thermal heat protectant), as well as take good care of it at all times.
If you have heat-damaged hair with high porosity and you try to dye it, you will notice that the end result will not be the color that you initially intended it to be. If the hair is too porous, what happens is that it absorbs too much of the dye, making the original color darker.
Heat-damaged hair not only has poor color retention, but is also not able to hold on to hairstyles very well - or for very long.
If it takes forever to get the results that you are looking for, or the color of your hair fades faster than normal, it means that it’s probably highly porous and damaged.
If you notice an excessive hair losswhenever you are detangling, brushing or simply running your fingers through your hair, this could be a sign that it has been heat damaged.
Shedding is a natural process (also known as telogen effluvium), and the normal amount of hair that humans shed every day is between 50 and 100. The growth of hair strands can continue for up to 6 years, a time during which they continuously collect damage.
As damage is collected over the years, and especially when you are exposing your hair to high heat frequently, the hair strands get weakened, and the end result is losing more hair than normal.
Of course, keep in mind that if your body loses a significantly higher amount of hairs every day, this usually means that there could be a serious underlying issue that needs to be addressed.
While this is a common sign of heat-damaged hair, excessive hair loss can also be a result of a stressful event, such as pregnancy or an illness recovery, so make sure to not underestimate these situations and seek help when needed.
Undoubtedly, among the most common signs of heat-damaged hair is a change in texture - instead of feeling sleek or shiny, it will feel rough and dry. No matter how much you moisturize it, you are simply not seeing any improvement.
Since hair that’s been damaged by heat loses its elasticity and doesn’t bounce back the same way it does when it’s healthy, it will feel frayed and uneven at the tips.
The conclusion is simple: high heat can significantly damage and weaken your hair, making it lose its shine, color, and beautiful sleek texture.
Unfortunately, reversing hair damage isn’t possible once the protein bonds and cuticles have been permanently altered. Instead, focus on doing things to promote healthy new hair growth, and preventing further damage. Let's take a look how to revive heat-damaged hair:
If you have already gotten to the point of suffering from heat-damaged hair, it means that your heat styling routine probably needs some serious change if you want to avoid further damage.
The first - and probably the most important step - is to invest in a good, high-quality flat iron with adjustable heat settings that allows you to control the temperature, and get results with the least heat possible.
In addition to having amazing temperature control settings, the NuMe Megastar Flat Iron uses proprietary far infrared heat technology for a more gentle hair styling minus the damage.
Its tourmaline plates emit up to 6 times more negative ions than regular flat irons made of ceramic plates, giving it the ability to lock in moisture and create a smooth, silky hair surface.
Once you’ve invested in a high-quality flat iron or curling iron, make sure to follow all the best practices for styling your hair without damage - such as using a thermal heat protectant and ensuring that your hair is fully dry before applying heat.
One of the most underestimated steps of reviving heat-damaged hair is to make sure that you regularly trim itwith your hairstylist. Trimming your hair promotes healthy hair growth, gets rid of split and swollen ends, and makes it look thicker.
It also makes your hair appear healthier and less frizzy - so make sure to schedule a visit to your hairdresser every 2 to 3 months.
To repair heat-damaged hair, always make sure to use gentle and nourishing hair products that are not going to cause further damage. Using shampoos, conditioners and hair masks with harsh chemicals are the last thing you want to put on your hair when it’s already been damaged.
A great way to ensure that your hair will be fully moisturized from the roots is NuMe’s vegan tourmaline hair care set.
Made with 10 amino acids, shea butter, coconut oil, and hydrolyzed proteins, you will have the perfect combination of a shampoo, hair mask and conditioner to start reviving your hair and replenish dryness with intense moisture.
To fix damaged hair from heat, start by changing your heat styling routine. Invest in a high-quality flat iron with temperature control, use a thermal heat protectant, and make sure that your hair is fully dry before you apply any heat. Regular hydration and hair trims will also be a must.
Unfortunately, hair damage is irreversible once the protein bonds and cuticles have been altered by the heat. However, you can revive your hair by hydrating it with natural and nourishing products, growing it out, and regularly trimming it. Make sure to invest in a high-quality heat styling tool, such as the NuMe Megastar Flat Iron, to prevent further damage.
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