December 30, 2022 7 min read
What is thermal hair styling, and what are some of the most important things that you need to know about it? Continue reading to learn more.
Hair styling has been around for thousands of years - its oldest known depiction is hair braiding, which dates back about 30,000 years. Around 400 BC, the ancient Greeks curled their hair with bronze rods, and a couple of thousand years later - in 1845, the French invented metal hot combs to straighten curly hair.
As a form of self-expression and a confidence booster, hair styling has been evolving over the years. In 1905, German hairdressers invented the first electrically heated curlers, and commercial flat irons became widely available to the general public in 1992.
Today, one of the most popular types of hair styling is thermal hair styling - it is easy, convenient, fun, and everybody can do it at home with the right tools.
But what exactly is thermal hair styling? Let’s take a better look:
Thermal hair styling is essentially hair styling with tools that use heat, such as flat irons, hair straighteners, hair dryers and curling irons. Flat irons and hair straighteners usually function in the range of 90-230 °C (190-450°F), while curling irons tend to be within the range of 120-230 °C (250-450°F).
Hair dryers typically heat to between 25-60 °C (80-140°F).
Each strand of hair contains unique chemical bonds (known as hydrogen molecular bonds) that are responsible for maintaining the natural shape of your hair. This shape can be modified in two different ways - by either applying heat or water.
Thermal heat styling works on hair by temporarily modifying the texture of the hair strand through heat. Since the chemical bonds that maintain our hair’s shape are sensitive to it, they break during straightening, curling or blow-drying, causing the temporary change.
This change is what allows heat-styled hair to remain in place for a few hours until hair strands go back to their natural form - although this can be sped up if the hair comes in contact with water or moisture.
Nowadays, thermal hair styling has evolved to become one of the most popular types of hair styling because it’s easy, fun, lasts for hours, and it is a great confidence booster.
You don’t even have to go to a hair salon - with the right tools, you can get salon-quality results at home without spending hundreds of dollars and a few extra hours of your time. Let’s take a look at the different types of hair styling tools that you have available:
One of the most common types of thermal hair styling is through curling irons. A curling iron, commonly known as curling tongs, is a device in the shape of a barrel that uses heat to form curls in your hair.
As we mentioned earlier, the most common temperature ranges of curling irons are within 120-230 °C (250-450°F).
Curling irons tend to vary by diameter, material, barrel shape, as well as the type of handle. The diameter of the barrel can be anywhere from .5 in (1.3 cm) to 2 in (5.1 cm), but you can also find other sizes depending on the manufacturer.
For example, the NuMe Octowand 8-in-1 Curling Wand comes with 11 tourmaline ceramic barrels for endless styling possibilities so you don’t feel limited with your curling wand.
As opposed to regular curling tools, it also comes with a wider temperature range - from 170°F to 450°F (76°C to 232°C), so you can enjoy beautiful, glamorous curls even if your hair is very thin and cannot stand high temperatures.
Among the most common thermal hair styling tools is the flat iron, a device with two flat, rectangular plates (which can be found in different materials) used for straightening hair. Flat irons can come in different plates, including:
Most tools are ceramic coated, and the better ones have thicker coating.
While all types of plates have their advantages and disadvantages, not all of them allow you to straighten your hair without damage. This is especially true for ceramic-coated plates, which tend to wear down over time, causing uneven distribution of heat and damage to your hair.
Tourmaline plates tend to be a much better option for this type of thermal hair styling tools. Made from the gemstone tourmaline, they generate more far-infrared heat than titanium and ceramic plates, and produce up to 6 times more negative ions which seal in moisture and reduce damage from heat.
The NuMe Megastar Flat Iron, made with innovative tourmaline technology for a more gentle heat styling, gets you quick and long-lasting results minus the damage.
With a built-in infrared light strip, it allows wavelengths of far infrared heat to penetrate deeper into the hair shaft, aiding in moisture retention for effortless, salon-quality styling at home.
A hair dryer, also known as a blow dryer, is an electromechanical device used to dry hair by blowing ambient or hot air over damp hair to speed the water evaporation.
Used by both men and women, it is one of the most popular thermal hair styling tools, and it’s something found in most people’s homes.
As opposed to other thermal hair styling tools, such as flat irons and curling irons, a hair dryer usually functions within a lower temperature range, usually within 25-60 °C (80-140°F). In fact, it can even be used with cold air for drying for reducing frizz and styling hair with less damage.
A hot brush is a type of hybrid thermal hair styling tool that’s similar to a round or a paddle hairbrush, but has a built-in straightener. It allows you to heat style your hair while detangling it, which saves valuable time.
Just as the rest of the thermal hair styling tools we just discussed, hot brushes also vary in temperature range - you will most commonly find them in the 80-230°C range (180°F – 450°F).
Thermal hair styling is a great way to style your beautiful hair and rock the streets with confidence, but it can be extremely damaging if not done right.
After all, it involves applying high heat to your hair, so taking the right steps to avoid frizz and weakened hair strands is an absolute must - especially if you are curling or straightening your hair frequently.
Undoubtedly, one of the worst things that you can do when heat styling your hair is doing it while it’s wet or damp. Since flat irons and curling irons generally function at a temperature above that of boiling water, applying heat to wet hair means that you are essentially boiling it.
When high heat is applied to wet or damp hair, it causes an explosion inside your hair strand, which leads to permanent and irreversible damage to the hair. So, avoid ironing wet hair at all costs - make sure it’s fully dry before heat styling your hair.
As we already explained, thermal hair styling involves using high temperatures to temporarily modify the texture of the hair strand, thus achieving the desired look.
However, applying heat regularly without protection can cause the hair to lose elasticity and become more prone to damage.
For this reason, using a thermal heat protectant is an absolute must if you want to enjoy healthier and shinier hair for longer. It provides a barrier between the hair and the hot tool, which helps to seal in moisture and battle frizz.
The NuMe Watch Me Werk thermal heat protectant uses a proprietary blend of proteins (as well as Caviar Extract, Vitamin A and Sunflower Seed Oil) toeffectively eliminate frizz, protect the hair from heat and the absorption of UVA and UVB rays, as well as add shine for a beautiful and healthy appearance.
A lot of women are still usingthermal hair styling tools in which the only thing you can control is the On and Off button. If you are one of them, it’s time to throw it in the bin - as it’s probably causing a lot more hair damage than you are realizing.
Not all types of hair require the same temperature in order to get the desired results. If you have a thick hair, you may need toapply more heat than someone who has extremely thin and already damaged hair - after all, you don’t want further damage.
For this reason, buying athermal hair styling tool with temperature control is an absolute must if you are looking to maximize your results while causing the least damage possible to your hair. For example, the NuMe Megastar Flat Iron can go as low as90°C (190°F) for extremely thin hair, and all the way up to230°C (450°F)for thick curly hair.
Heat styling can be very damaging for your hair if you are using the wrong tools and not following the right steps - for example, skipping hair drying or not applying thermal heat protectant.
Temperatures over 300°F convert the ⍺-keratin to β-keratin, causing permanent alteration to hair strands and causing hair to lose its elasticity. So, make sure to follow all the steps if you want to heat style your hair without damage.
Yes, heat styling once a week is absolutely OK. Just make sure that your hair is freshly shampooed, conditioned, completely dry, and protected with a thermal heat protectant before heat styling.
Dirty and unprotected hair will not only fail to yield the desired results, but will also cause hair damage.
Yes, heat styling changes the shape of the hair temporarily. Heat modifies the hydrogen molecular bonds which are responsible for keeping the natural shape of your hair, allowing the hair to be rearranged before the bonds return to their natural shape.
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