Styling your hair is a great way to keep things interesting. But are you doing more harm than good? For example, straightening can be dangerous for your locks. This includes both flat irons and chemical relaxants.
After learning about these 7 side effects, you might give it a second thought.
1. Excessive Drying
Dry hair is the most common side effect. Both chemicals and heat alike can strip your hair of its natural oils! Your hair’s elasticity will decrease, making it feel brittle and coarse.
It doesn’t even matter what your hair type is. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, any kind of heat will destroy your locks. Straightening tools should be used every other day or less. To avoid damage, use them at a low or medium setting, and never when your hair is wet. It’ll run the risk of literally frying your hair.1
That dryness can also lead to frizziness. It’s enough to make anyone’s mane look out of control! Little flyaway hairs are also common, making it hard to style your look properly. Low-humidity weather can also make it worse.
To tame frizziness, avoid frequent straightening. Always use a conditioner on the bottom half of your hair.2 You can also make a hair mask with coconut oil, milk, or olive oil for moisturizing benefits.
Breakage is more likely when your hair becomes dry from straightening. Again, this applies to both heat tools and chemical relaxants. These practices weaken the strands, making them easier to break. Often, the breakage encourages split ends, which can look unpleasant. Over-brushing, blow drying, and handling wet hair can also encourage split ends.3
Another side effect of straightening is dullness. Dry hair doesn’t have a lot of shine, and it won’t look very healthy. This is caused by the lack of natural oils from the scalp. Without enough moisture, the hair will look bland.
To make your hair glossy, use apple cider vinegar hair rinse. Or apply some some argan or avocado oil for a natural finish.
5. Hair Loss
Straightening chemicals can also damage your hair follicles. This means that you’ll have a greater risk of hair loss, since the follicles aren’t strong enough to hold on. You may find clumps of hair in the shower or on your brush.
Repeated straightening treatments can even kill hair follicles. They won’t be able to make any more hair, leading to baldness.4
The heat from a straightening iron won’t help. If it can damage the actual strands, it can damage the follicles. This is even more likely if you use it near the roots.
6. Itchy Scalp
Even your skin can take a hit. When hair follicles die from straightening, there isn’t enough oil to moisturize the scalp. It’ll feel dry and itchy and might even start to flake. The surrounding areas like the forehead and neck may also be affected.
7. Physical Irritation
The scariest part of straightening hair is the formaldehyde gas. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, some smoothing products release formaldehyde when heated. This includes the use of flat irons and blow dryers.
After repeated exposure, formaldehyde can irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and lungs. This chemical has also been linked to rare cancers like nasopharyngeal cancer, so it’s important to be careful.5
Avoid constant use of straightening tools and chemicals. When possible, let your hair air dry. To prevent even more damage, skip the hair dyes and harsh hair sprays.
|↑1||Hair styling without damage. American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑2||Tips for healthy hair. American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑3||Maintaining Healthy Hair. Canadian Dermatology Association.|
|↑4||Hair Follicle. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑5||Hair-Smoothing Products That Release Formaldehyde When Heated. U.S. Food & Drug Administration.|