Thursday, February 6, 2014

It's Winter but my Hair Looks "Fried" - What's Wrong?

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Even though it is winter outside, how is it we end up with uncontrollable, dried out hair? We typically think of heat damage only when it's hot outside and our skin feels the heat. Heat is almost essential to our hair styling routines these days. But just how do we protect our hair from the heat and prevent a "hair-frying" experience?

First, look at the devices we use on our hair: blow dryers, curling irons, flat irons, steam rollers and more. I've even heard of women using clothing irons to straighten stubbornly curly hair! When you consider that these styling tools are often used on a daily basis, and they're often not used correctly, there's little wonder why many women end up with damaged hair.

To put it simply, heat sucks the moisture right out of your hair and leaves it more vulnerable to heat damage.Signs of heat damage to your hair are:
  • frizzed or frizzled hair
  • dry hair
  • brittle hair that breaks easily
  • dull hair

Now consider that all of these styling tools generate heat. Sometimes incredibly high heat. Curling irons and flat irons are often set at 400 degrees or more. You wouldn't ever imagine sticking your head into an oven set at 400 degrees, and even at temperatures just above 100 degrees your skin starts to feel dehydrated, shriveled and burned. So why do we do this to our hair?

Fifty years ago, the majority of women went to the "hair parlor" to have their hair washed, dried, color treated, permed and styled by professionals. Few did these things themselves. Even though modern products that are designed to protect had not yet been in use, because so many of the hair care procedures were done by professionals, women didn't seem to get the type of damage so common today. It was also prior to the age of modern hair care equipment that uses heat. In those days most of the heat was generated from the hooded dyers or heat generated from the harsh chemicals they used on the hair.

What many people don't realize is that you don't need to be using these styling tools every day to get damaged hair. It only takes one occurrence to permanently damage your hair. The only real remedy is to grow it back out.

But, just as technology has created a new wave of tools that can cause damage, it has created a variety of different products designed specifically to protect your hair. One of the great new products to emerge are heat protectants.

What are heat protectants?

Think of heat protectant products as a sunscreen for your hair. But, instead of protecting your hair from the sun, the primary purpose is to protect your hair from the devastating effects of heat. Applied as a light coating over the entire hair shaft, heat protectants work by sealing off the cuticle and forming a barrier against the heat. Because hair is a protein that needs nourishment, it's susceptible to heat and it is important to use the right protecting products.

Melissa White, owner of San Antonio hair extension salon Extensions of Yourself, explains, "It's scary how few people know about the products that can help reduce damage to their hair. For women who have invested in 100% human hair extensions, you'd think the desire to maintain and protect them would be at the top of their list of things to do. But, sometimes its hard for clients to see the benefit of investing a little bit extra in quality products that will help their hair extensions last longer and look their best."

There are a number of heat protectants available through quality salons. And, they're designed for different hair types and different amounts of hold, etc. Some combine heat protectants with styling products for hold or texture, or even for color treated hair. Some are blended to work best with curling irons, while others are specifically designed for blow dryers because styling tools differ in their optimum temperatures. If you use both, opt for a product that offers the maximum protection and select one that is designed for irons.

I recommend seeking the advise of your own personal hair stylist. He/she knows your hair type, how you style your hair, as well as the level of damage you have. They are best suited to select a product that will help protect your hair from the ravaging effects of man-made heat!

RESOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Extensions of Yourself - Cold Weather and Extremes in Temperature Can Affect Hair Health
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