Style Smart: Prevent Hair Damage this Holiday Season
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on December 11, 2018 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Hair Care Tips
Holiday parties, dinners and festivals are great occasions to spruce up your look and show off a new ‘do. Lots of people flock to the hair salon or stock up on styling tools and products before the holidays to get the perfect holiday style. Unfortunately, many styling techniques and products can severely damage your hair.
Hot tools, harsh chemical-based products and poor hair care can lead to dehydration, frizziness and breakage. When you’re perfecting your holiday style this season, make sure to style smart to protect your hair and avoid lasting damage.
Two of the major styling dangers that you face year-round are hot styling tools and excessive product use, but these are even more prominent around the holidays when parties and fancy dress are more common.
Hot tools are one of the biggest hair damage offenders. Hair dryers, straighteners, curling irons and hot rollers all use one major component to style your locks: heat. A little bit of heat won’t hurt your hair, but continuous heat application can zap your hair of moisture, make it brittle and lead to breakage. It’s best to avoid hot styling as much as possible to protect your locks.
Excessive product use can also be damaging. One particularly problematic type of product is long-lasting hairspray. You want your style to last all night long, but avoid using products that claim to hold all day. The high alcohol content in long-lasting products can dry out your hair, and brushing or combing through your hair after you apply these products can lead to split ends and hair breakage because they create a super-strong hold.
Using too many products filled with harsh chemicals can lead to dry, brittle and lackluster-looking hair overall. Some product is okay, but overdoing it can lead to the opposite results you want.
Tips for safe styling
Because hot tools and excessive products can be so damaging, you should take steps to avoid using these styling techniques. Instead, there are many ways you can get a gorgeous hairstyle without using heat and damaging your hair.
One of the first tips to remember when safely styling your hair is to let your hair air dry completely. Air drying removes the need to blast your hair with hot air and can actually help you achieve many beautiful looks without using hot styling tools.
If you’re air drying your hair, be sure to give yourself enough time in the day to have hair dry thoroughly. If you’re in a pinch and really need to use a hair dryer, make sure to use the “cool” setting so your hair is better protected against the heat.
Either while your hair is drying or after, try some of these safe styling tips.
- Sleep on it: If you’re aiming for a sleek, straight-haired look, shampoo hair at night and let your hair dry before heading to bed. Sleeping on your hair can help smooth out frizz, make your hair look shinier and flatten out any waves for a better style in the morning.
- Try braids and twists: If curls or waves are the desired look, try braiding your hair or putting it into twists while it’s still damp. Let the braids or twists air dry while you get ready, then take them out. You should be left with soft curls or waves that are perfectly damage-free.
- Air-dry ringlets: To achieve natural-looking curls, wrap wet or damp hair around your finger and pin the ringlet to your hair with a bobby pin. Let the ringlets air dry, then remove the pins and finger-comb the curls. For larger curls with more body, you can also try foam or Velcro rollers that style without heat.
- Styling creams: There are tons of natural products on the market that enhance the appearance of air-dried hair to give your locks more texture, volume and body. Apply these products while your hair is damp to help perfect your style later.
If you must use heat
Sometimes, the look you’re going for just isn’t attainable without using some form of a heat styling tool. If you need to use heat to create your perfect style, keep these tips in mind to protect your hair as much as possible.
- Use heat protectant: Heat protectant sprays and creams act much like sunscreen. They protect your hair from getting as damaged by your hot tools as they normally would. Whether you’re blow drying, curling or straightening, always apply heat protectant first.
- Use the low setting: Most tools have different temperature settings that are better for certain types of hair. Try to use the lowest possible setting for your hair type. You don’t want to see steam or smoke coming from your hair—it doesn’t mean your tools are working and getting your hair extra-styled, it means you’re burning your hair!
- Use them quickly: Applying hot tools for too long can burn the hair. Use your hot tools quickly and efficiently, taking care to never leave the tool on the hair for more than a few seconds.
- Never use them on wet hair: When your hair is wet, it’s at its weakest state and more susceptible to breakage. Hot tools should only ever be used on completely dry hair, or you could be in for a surprising amount of damage.
Styling your hair for the holidays doesn’t have to be dangerous for your hair. Experiment with different ways of air drying and styling to protect your hair and rock a gorgeous ‘do this season!
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan