As hair experts, we know that the higher the heat temperature, the more likely it will cause damage to the hair. Using heat protection sprays and products is key to maintaining your hair health, as is having a heat styling tool with variable temperature control to allow for lower levels of heat to be used when styling.
Our 2-in-1 Contouring Iron Pro does just that, with the feature of Variable Temperature Control, adjusting between 100-200 degrees. The structure of each strand of hair consists of the hair follicle; a tiny pocket where the hair grows from and the hair shaft, the hair that you see outside your skin, made of a protein called keratin. The hair follicle and shaft are connected.
Our experts have created this guide to show the future of hair, comparing the effect of repeat heat styling across different temperatures to show the effects this has on follicles and shafts when tools are used at 150 degrees, 185 degrees and 200+ degrees, across different hair types.
HOW MUCH DAMAGE ARE YOUR TOOLS REALLY DOING?
According to Cosmetics and Toiletries, heat styling makes use of what is commonly termed the ‘water-set process’. Water is a plasticiser for hair and accordingly, its removal creates additional internal structuring, which is often sufficient to anchor temporary styles. Ideally, these styles would last until the hair is re-wetted at the next washing.
We’ve broken down what happens to different hair types at varying temperatures, from the moisture left in the hair to the elasticity of the shaft.
Hair Type 1 - Straight Hair
Type one hair is hair that naturally lies flat or straight, there is no hint of any curl pattern or wave on this hair type. Type one hair often appears sleek and shiny as natural oils can travel from root to tip, due to its straight nature.
Using 150 degrees or less on naturally straight hair creates a small lack of elasticity meaning our hair tresses will become limp, stretched out, and then prone to damage. However, the cuticles remain closed and flat maintaining your hair's hydration balance and flexibility.
When using 185-degree heat on hair type one, there is a larger lack of elasticity in the shaft - losing elasticity in hair is what makes it weaker and damaged. The water molecules evaporate at this temperature and hair cuticles open slightly, making them more vulnerable to breakage and frizz.
Higher temperatures on type one hair causes breakages to the hair shafts and split ends will also begin to appear. The hair will start to dry and the cuticles crack. According to Natural Hair Haven, between 215 and 235 degrees, the keratin in hair has a natural twist and is present in all hair types. At this stage of heat, the helices of the hair protein begin to melt and this is not reversible.
Hair Type 2 - Wavy Hair
Type two hair is wavy and often described as having S-shaped curls. This loose textured hair does not have defined curls and sits between straight and curly hair.
There is no lack of elasticity and the hair cuticles have shingles that are closed and flat, meaning the hair is still protected and water molecules are still present. According to a study by Tahira Reid, type two hair (loose waves), seems to exhibit the highest thermal conductivity of all at low temperatures - meaning it’s better at letting heat move through it.
For wavy hair, using 185-degree heat creates a small lack of elasticity, meaning there is a lack of moisture in the hair. The wave pattern will become marginally straighter, but water molecules are still present.
Over 200 degrees on type two hair will show slight breakages to the hair shaft including larger split ends and the moisture in the hair will now start to depart, meaning the hair could feel brittle and dry.
Hair Type 3 - Curly Hair
Type three hair has defined curls, these can vary between coiled or ringlets. The hair shafts are oval, which creates the curl. The texture is often bouncy or springy.
At this temperature or less, the hair cuticles on type three hair are closed and flat, meaning they are protected. The curl pattern will be unaffected and remain healthy with minimal lasting damage.
At 185 degrees the curl pattern on type three hair weakens and the curls become less tight as the hair follicle and shaft change on a molecular level as the straightener takes effect. However, according to the Journal of Cosmetology & Trichology after straightening curly hair using a styler at 185°C, the hair’s ability to revert to its natural curl pattern remains unaffected.
On type three hair there will be breakages as the hair shafts begin to melt. The shafts will get split ends becoming dry and brittle as cuticles crack. When regularly using a styler at 220°C the hair tresses show a reduction in reversion and shift to lower curl types. It is suggested that the structural damage induced in hair treated at 220°C is the cause of the inability of the fibres to revert successfully, according to the Journal of Cosmetology & Trichology.
Hair Type 4 - Kinky Hair
Type four hair is very tight, textured hair. Often referred to as ‘afro-hair’, the hair has a zig-zag pattern and can be fine, dry, soft or coarse.
Using 150-degree heat on type four hair will lead to a small lack of elasticity and the hair cuticles will start rising, this means that the cuticles are opening and losing their protective properties.
The heat of 185 degrees on type four hair will create larger visible breakages than other hair types. The hair shafts will start to dry with little moisture, leading the hair to feel brittle and more prone to damage.
High temperatures on type four hair will melt the hair shafts and lead to large breakages, split ends and potential knotting. The hair will be completely dry with no cuticle scales or moisture. The Tahira Reid study also found that type four hair has lower tensile properties (the level of tension hair can withstand before breaking) than other hair types. These hair types break prematurely due to high variability in their cross-sectional shapes that produce weak points.
How to keep your hair healthy
There are many things you can do to keep your hair in top condition, without compromising on the heat-required hairstyles you love.
- Limit heat use - The best thing about styling your hair using CLOUD NINE is that the results can last for a couple of days. This means you can rework the hairstyle, making it last rather than needing to apply heat every day.
- Use temperature variation - Our heat styling tools at CLOUD NINE have Variable Temperature Control at 100-200 degrees, so you can use lower heat when necessary, reducing damage to the hair follicles and shafts. Using temperatures 185 degrees or below causes the least amount of damage to all hair types. The hair loses the least amount of elasticity in this range and the shafts remain mostly closed. Our Variable Temperature Control feature ensures you don’t have to add unnecessary heat to the hair or use damaging temperatures that are too hot.
- Use heat protectants - Always prep your hair before applying any heat. Using our Magical Potion heat protect spray, the lightweight conditioners will work to protect hair from heat damage. Heat protectants such as our Magical Potion spray add a protective layer to the hair cuticles, stopping them from rising and opening meaning they are less prone to damage and breakage. Heat protection sprays also seal moisture in the hair, preventing it from becoming dry or brittle, whilst smoothing and sealing the hair.