Thinning hair can be more susceptible to all kinds of damage — especially damage that comes from hair tools. “If hair loss is excessive, it may lead to visible thinning,” says Clairol Color Director James Corbett. “It is normal to shed hair about 100 hairs a day.” If you’re losing more than that, you may start to see noticeable changes on your scalp.
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While the topic of hair thinning “can be a difficult conversation to have with some clients,” Corbett says, it’s important for him to educate clients on hair safety tips when using hot tools like blow-dryers, curling irons, and straighteners.
Below, the hair guru shares some rules to live by when it comes to hot tools.
Styling Tool Dos and Don’ts
There are many flat irons, curling irons, and blow-dryers on the market — and not all of them are created equal. Here are some features to look for:
- Opt for ceramic. Tools with ceramic plates distribute heat more evenly and minimize damage to the hair.
- Temperature settings. Having an adjustable heat setting is also helpful, as greater temperature control can help to decrease damage as well.
- Stay below 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Hair loss specialists suggest keeping the heat between 200 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. For hair that is thin or thinning, this can go a long way: “You want to preserve what you have left,” Corbett says. “Don’t burn it.”
And while all heat tools can cause damage, some are worse than others. Corbett confirms that flat irons and curling irons can be especially damaging. Not only that, they can also cause hair to look even thinner by compressing strands together. This can “make your hair look finer,” Corbett says, “and not in the ‘Oh, she looks so fine’ kind of way.”
There’s not as much need to fear a blow-dryer. “I do not mind a blow dryer, as it can fluff the hair,” Corbett says. “Just be aware of using too much heat.”
Using high heat can damage the hair fiber. Ideally the air temperature should feel comfortable on the back of your hand. Another tip is to avoid direct contact between the blow-dryer and your hair; keep a safe distance to avoid drying of the hair.
For an added boost, coloring your hair can also make it look fuller. “With color, we can create the appearance of more hair by adding dimension,” says Corbett. “In addition, color swells the hair shaft, making the hair fuller.” He recommends Clairol Natural Instincts as a way to keep up color treatments in between salon visits, as it has no ammonia so it won’t cause damage that’ll make hair thin even more.
Spraying your hair with a heat protectant before applying heat can prevent damage. Products with silicone can help to keep cuticles healthy and keep your hair soft. It’s also helpful to apply a deep moisturizing serum like coconut oil. These products can help replete the moisture lost from styling.
Styling tools can create free radicals: molecules that “steal energy” from the cells that produce hair. When this energy is “stolen,” hair can shed or stop growing all together. Providing protection from the outside is important, but even more important is preventing damage from the inside out.
Nutrafol contains ingredients to support a healthy antioxidant balance. The tocotrionols or vitamin E and resveratrol in Nutrafol work as powerful antioxidants, countering the damaging effect of free radicals created from styling.