05.Hair straightening tips
A hair straightener lets you iron out frizz and tame unruly curls. It breaks down the hair’s hydrogen bonds that make it curly, leaving it straight until its next exposed to moisture. Ceramic heating elements help eliminate frizz and static electricity so the hair’s outer layer looks smooth and shiny.
Hair in good condition can withstand the high temperatures a straightener reaches, but it can easily become dry and brittle if you don’t look after it properly. The following points should help you avoid damage to your hair.
Frequency: You can use a straightener every day, but it’s best not to if your hair is already weakened from other treatments, such as perming, or regular bleaching or highlighting, which make it more susceptible to breaking.
Temperature: Use a hair straightener on a low heat setting (maximum 170ºC) if you have fine, heavily bleached or damaged hair. Normal, thick and/or curly hair should be able to cope with temperatures upwards of 180ºC.
Method: Use a straightener on dry hair. With wet hair you can ‘boil’ the hair shaft, which can lead to breakage. Move it along the section of hair without stopping, so you don’t burn your hair. Read and follow the instructions for your straightener too.
Diet: Include sufficient protein and iron in your diet. Our hair consists almost entirely of protein, and 15 to 20% of our protein intake is used for skin and hair replacement. A low iron level is a common underlying cause of thinning hair in women.
Did you know?
Hair straighteners have become a new burns hazard for children in the home, according to an article published last year in the UK. And because they have two hotplates, which can both come in contact with the skin, they can cause two burns on adjacent parts of the body.
Adults can generally touch a ceramic surface of 86ºC for up to a second before getting burnt, but significantly lower limits apply to the skin of children and elderly people. A hair straightener, though, gets a lot hotter than 86ºC and will burn practically on contact with skin.
While minor superficial burns of ears, forehead and fingers are recognised hazards of using a hair straightener, take particular care when it’s heating up — and remember where you put it. We’ve heard of people who were burnt on the foot when they stepped on one left on the floor, or caught one by the plates when it was falling, or sat on one left on a chair to heat up ... Ouch!