How does heat damage the hair?

What you’ll learn:

  • How heat affects hair’s health negatively 
  • Molecular changes in the hair structure.
  • How to minimize damage caused by heat

Intense heat causes the water inside the cortex - the inner part of the hair structure - to evaporate.  Too much heat can actually damage the hair in the same way that chemical processes would, by breaking hair bonds that eventually won’t form again. 

If done occasionally, heat styling won’t cause irreversible damage, especially when a layer of heat protection is added to the process, but when done  repeatedly, heat styling destroys the natural shape of the hair. 

What happens to hair at a molecular level?

High levels of heat or prolonged heat, have a direct effect on the hair structure on a molecular level and the damage caused to the hair is cumulative as there are no growing cells in hair. 

“Hair is made up of a protein called keratin. Keratin in hair has a natural twist in it called an alpha helix. This twist is present in all hair — straight or curly.” (Naturally Curly) 

When heat is present, the alpha helix melts. This transformation is irreversible and the damage will continue to progress as heat styling continues. In addition to that, heat styling opens the cuticle - the outer layer of the hair shaft - creating more friction between the strands and making it harder to comb through, creating more damage due to the stress. 

How to minimize damage caused by heat?

A layer of protection can go a long way. Heat protectors have proven to dramatically reduce damage at the surface of the hair strand by preventing the cuticles from raising and creating extra friction. 

How does heat damage the hair?

For damage control, use an intense hair treatment that contains protein, followed by a treatment that replenishes the strands with the water that has been lost due to the evaporation.

Shop Moisture Treatment

Follow a hair care routine that keeps the strands healthy, even when undergoing everyday stress. All hair types need a specific routine to be healthy, and the ideal routine varies from situation to situation and depends mostly on the hair type and damage level. Rotating between protein, water, and oil treatments is the best way to keep hair at its best. Complete this online test and learn what your ideal hair routine looks like.