December 21, 2022 6 min read
Is it better to straighten your hair wet or dry? Find out how ironing wet hair can take a serious toll on your beautiful curls.
When you are in a rush, following all the steps to straighten your hair without damage can feel like an absolute hassle. If time is already against you, the last thing that you want to do before styling it is taking even more time to ensure that it’s fully dry.
And this is when an important question pops up: “Is it better to straighten your hair wet or dry? Is ironing wet hair really that damaging?” Skipping the hair dryer and going straight to flat ironing may be tempting, but at what cost? Continue reading to find the answers to these questions.
In order to figure out whether ironing wet hair is a good idea, it will be important to get a good understanding of what exactly happens when straightening wet or damp hair.
Hair consists of three layers: the cuticle, the medulla, and the cortex.
When you are fresh out of the shower, water has deeply penetrated all three layers of your hair.
So, what happens when straightening damp hair is that the water turns into steam and evaporates very quickly out of the cortex.
Since the cortex is the main component of the hair, and the one responsible for its strength and elasticity, the result is structural damage which you will be able to see in the form of weak, coarse and frizzy hair.
To give you an even better perspective of the results from ironing wet hair, think about the temperature at which water boils and turns into steam, which happens at around 100°C (212°F).
Most flat irons and hair straighteners function in the range of 250-450°F, or 120-230 °C (although the NuMe Megastar Flat Iron can go as low as 190°F, or 90 °C) which is above the temperature at which water boils. So, when heat is applied to wet hair, it causes an explosion inside the medulla, leading to permanent and irreversible damage to the strands.
In other words, you are effectively boiling your hair.
While it may not be visible the first or the second time you straighten your hair when wet, doing it long-term will lead to damaged, thin and brittle hair which can be hard (if possible) to recover.
Now that you understand what happens when ironing wet hair, let’s sum it up in a simple answer that sets the question once and for all.
You should only straighten your hair when it’s completely dry. When the hair is wet, the high heat from the flat iron causes the water molecules inside your hair strands to boil, causing irreversible structural damage.
Since ironing wet hair is a temptation that many busy women have when styling their hair, new heat styling tools emerged in the last few years: the so-called wet-to-dry flat irons.
Wet-to-dry flat irons are hair straighteners designed to straighten your damp or wet hair without the need to wait until it’s fully dry. However, do they actually work?
Unfortunately, wet-to-dry flat irons don’t work the way they are intended to, and they can be just as damaging as using a regular flat iron on dripping wet hair. Since wet hair requires multiple passes to become dry and straightened, it causes permanent heat damage and frizzy appearance.
Falling into new trends is easy, but always make sure to do your due diligence to ensure that you are not causing long-lasting damage to your hair without realizing it.
While no flat iron can save you from the damages caused by ironing wet hair, the truth is that not all flat irons are made equal, and some are designed with better technology than others.
If you are really looking to straighten your hair easily, safely and without causing irreversible damage, you can do that with the leading flat iron in the market: the NuMe Megastar Flat Iron.
Winner of the Glamour Beauty Award, the NuMe Flat Iron uses proprietary far infrared heat technology for a more gentle styling without damaging your hair. Its innovative tourmaline plates ensure that your hair always comes out looking sleek and shiny, minus the damage.
Of course, don’t forget that your hair should be completely dry before you start straightening - we already discussed how devastating ironing wet hair can be, especially if you are doing it often.
So, it’s better to take a few extra minutes than suffer from weak, damaged, frizzy and vulnerable hair.
If you want to keep a consistent, long-term routine of hair styling without risking any possible damage, you need to make sure that you are using the right hair treatments in between washing and ironing.
Once you’ve washed and conditioned your hair, make sure to apply your leave-in treatments right away, fresh out of the shower.
This simple process will not only ensure maximum smoothness for your hair, but will also provide better protection against the heat from the flat iron.
For this reason, one of the most important hair treatments that you will need to apply after washing is a thermal heat protectant.
A thermal heat protectant is a product designed specifically to reduce hair damage caused by heat styling. It works by providing a protective barrier between your hair and your flat iron, acting in the same way as sunscreen acts for your skin.
NuMe’s Watch Me Werk Thermal Heat Protectant contains Caviar Extract, Vitamin A, and Sunflower Oil. Rich in Vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids, it helps to moisturize the hair, control the frizz, and protect it from the absorption of UVA and UVB rays.
Thermal heat protectants should be applied to wet hair, preferably after shampooing and conditioning. This ensures that they are spread more easily for even protection, bonding effectively into the shaft and reducing heat exposure.
Remember, using a heat protectant doesn’t mean that you can continue ironing wet hair without consequences. So, always ensure that it’s fully dry before you start applying heat to it.
When it comes to straightening and styling your beautiful hair without long-lasting damage, another tip that you can easily follow is to reduce the unnecessary heat whenever possible.
For example, if you have time, you can let your hair completely air dry in a natural manner instead of using a blow dryer.
If you don’t have time for this, your second best option is to use your blow dryer on the lowest heat possible - and this is especially important if you are planning to add more heat later when straightening.
And last but not least, using a flat iron with temperature control such as the NuMe Megastar Flat Iron is a great way to style your hair while only applying the minimum amount of heat necessary for your hair type.
No, it is not OK to iron wet hair. Ironing wet hair can cause irreversible structural damage that translates to weak, coarse and frizzy hair. When it’s wet, the high heat essentially boils the water molecules inside your hair strands, making your hair weaker and less elastic.
There are multiple things that you should not do with wet hair, such as brushing, applying heated tools, tying it up while it’s dripping yet, or going to sleep with it. When hair is wet, proteins form weaker bonds compared to dry hair, making it a lot easier to damage.
Wet hair usually has thousands of strands clumped together due to moisture, which results in a larger gap between each group of hairs that reveals more of your scalp. That’s why it tends to look thinner when wet, and it’s more fragile.
No, you should not straighten wet hair with a flat iron even if you are using heat protectant. While heat protectants help to reduce damage when heat styling, it doesn’t mean that they are able to fully protect your hair when wet.
Heat protectants should be applied before you start using any hot tools, whether it’s blow dryers, flat irons or curling irons.
Yes, you should always let heat protectant dry first before you start straightening your hair with a flat iron. No matter how premium and high-quality the protectant is, you should always ensure that your hair is fully dry before you begin heat styling.
Before straightening your hair, you should always wait for your heat protectant to fully dry. While this will depend on the hair and how much of the treatment you’ve applied to it, you can expect it to dry in approximately 15 minutes.
In order to apply it properly, you should spray a generous amount approximately 3 to 6 inches away from damp or dry hair, and then continue heat styling.
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