The relationship between hot tools and your hair can quickly become a toxic one. Though your daily styling routine might give you dreamy lengths, too much heat can ultimately do a lot more harm than good to your overall hair health. “Too much heat on the hair causes breakage—constantly heating and cooling will weaken the hair, leading it to break,” says FEKKAI brand stylist partner Chad Wood.
It’s a vicious cycle: The more you use these tools, the more damage you do to your hair, which means the more you have to use them to get the silky-smooth style you want. Using heat protectants and deep conditioners can help mitigate some of the damage, but the only way to really restore your strands is to cut off your relationship with your hot tools cold turkey. Here, stylists explain what happens when you stop heat styling your hair, and what you can expect when you breakup with your blowdryer (and straightener, and curling iron) and commit to air drying for a day, a week, a month, and—gasp!—for good.
What happens when you stop heat styling your hair
For a day
Truth be told, breaking up with your straightener for only a day won’t make a whole lot of difference in the health of your strands. “After only a day of not using irons or heat instruments to style the hair, it will be in the condition that our hair is which is dehydrated, fragile, dull, and lifeless,” says Garnier celebrity hairstylist Millie Morales. If you really want to restore your strands, you’ll want to commit to some more time apart.
For a week
After letting your hair air dry for a week, Wood says that your scalp’s natural oils will start to regenerate, which will eventually make their way down the strand acting as something of a natural conditioner. During this time, you should be integrating more moisturizing products into your routine—like the Playa Healing Hair Mask ($38)—and you’ll notice your hair starting to become softer and more manageable.
For a month
If you really want to reach peak hair health, you’ll need to commit to at least a month away from heat styling. “After a month, you will notice an incredible, stronger change in your hair,” says Morales. “You would have recovered the hydration, the natural oils of your hair and would have strengthened the protective layer of the hair.” Wood adds that this will improve the quality, texture, and density of your hair, and your curls and waves will become more defined.
The longer you take a break from your styling tools, the more you’ll start to see the texture your hair start to change. “You’ve been telling your hair to do something it doesn’t want to do for so long, if you let it do what it wants for a long period of time, you’ll see that it gets more curl and more texture,” Morrocanoil celebrity hairstylist Bryce Scarlett said during a launch event for the brand’s new purple shampoo, adding that your hair is likely much curlier than you think it is. “If you don’t heat style for three months and continually apply moisturizing products, your hair will adapt.”
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