We live in a world of excess, where the richest (read: most fattening) foods seem to be the most delicious and the most expensive shoes are the one we covet. When it comes to hair, what is hottest is not always what is best. We may love our heat styling tools, but the risks of burning and heat damage are a little scary and, more seriously, potentially permanent. Too much heat can not only damage your hair, but burn your skin as well, which is why it’s crucial to make sure you’re using your tools correctly, so you can both look your best and emerge from your styling session unharmed!
Choose heat tools with options.
Oscar-winning celebrity hairstylist Mitch Stone says the key to avoiding hurting yourself—as in, burning your face—when using heated hair tools is to only use those that have a temperature setting. “This way they’re not forced to be on ‘high’ all the time,” he said. “Often times you can achieve the job on a lower setting, which I highly recommend.” The bottom line here: If you can get it done with lower heat, there’s no need to crank it up.
You should always apply a heat protecting spray to your hair whenever using a curling iron or flat iron, says Antonio Sussino of Pierre Michel Salon. Always make sure your hair is completely dry when using a heating tool to avoid singeing hair. Heating tools will leave hair feeling dry after use, so apply a light oil to your hair after styling to moisturize and seal any split ends.
When blowdrying hair, take a section and blow dry as you move hair through a round brush for precisely two minutes. You can always go back to a section if it’s still damp, but it’s better to give it a chance to cool off instead of applying too much heat to one section and risking burning your hair. After a section is completely dry, give it a cool blast from the dryer to seal the hair’s cuticle for increased shine, says Sussino.
Use the right temperature for you, and pay attention to timing.
It’s important to remember that for fine hair especially, you don’t need the highest temperature on your curling or flatiron, says Emilie Cockels, manager of Tarro Beauty. For medium to coarse hair, you can use hotter heat, but be sure not to leave it on the hair for too long. Make sure to always keep the flat iron moving and never hold a curling iron on your hair longer than ten seconds. “I have very thick hair and I always count to ten. I would cut that number in half for fine or fragile hair,” Cockels says.
Read more: The 5 Rules of Heat Styling Your Hair