It may take a few “hot” tools—hair dryers, flat irons, curling irons—to get your hairstyle just right. But, at what cost?

Heat damage can easily occur with frequent use of these styling devices, and it can happen to anyone. It is likely you have damaged your hair at one point or another, sometimes with your knowledge and other times without.

Here are a few ways to know if you are over processing your hair with heated styling tools and have heat damage:

  • Excessive frizz—nothing can help calm those flyaways.
  • Your hair feels dry or brittle to the touch, almost like hay or cut grass.
  • The overall color of your hair seems dull, flat, and/or lifeless.
  • You have a lot of hair breakage or noticed your hair is growing more slowly.
  • You frequently need to get a trim due to excessive split ends.

Heat damage isn’t just caused by using styling tools like a hair dryer or flat iron. It is when the device is used too often or for too long on your hair that causes heat damage.

Science of Heat Damage

Like over-bleaching your hair and suffering from chemical damage, over heating your hair undergoes a similar process. The high temperatures of the flat irons and curling irons are needed to achieve the desired effect—and they do so by softening the keratin in the hair, making it more pliable to change. However, softening the keratin can also lead to breakage in the hair. High temperatures also dehydrate the strands of your hair (which is why it can often feel dry or brittle).

Heat Damage Repair

While you won’t be able to fully revert the damage currently caused to your hair, there are some things you can do to lessen the impact of the damage and prevent further destruction of your strands.

  1. Stop applying heat to your hair. Yes, cold turkey; no more styling. You can’t stop damaging your hair if you keep using the tools that caused it.
  2. Pick up some shampoo and conditioner specifically for moisturizing—but skip a day (or two) between washing. The shampoo and conditioner will help to rehydrate your hair from the outside in, while skipping a wash will allow your hair to naturally rebuild its level of natural oils.
  3. Get a deep conditioner—at the spa—about once a month. The stuff on the shelf portraying itself as a deep conditioning treatment won’t be able to perform the level of damage control the products at a hair salon can. Plus, your hair will be in knowledgeable and experienced hands!
  4. Allow your hair to grow out, trimming off the dead ends. This will help the damage hair to slowly be cycled out and help lessen the dull and lifeless look they caused.