Hair-Care Tips

5 Non-Negotiable Hot Tool Rules Stylists Are Begging You To Follow for the Health of Your Hair

Photo: Stocksy / Cortney White
We know that hot tools aren't good for our hair. But if you love silking out your hair with a flat iron or adding bouncy curls with a wand, that inconvenient fact likely won't stop you from achieving the look you desire. And that's okay! As long as you're extra healthy when applying heat to keep your hair healthy in the long run.

"Heat can dry the hair and make it brittle and easily breakable if the hair is overexposed," says Gina Rivera, hair artist and CEO of Phenix Salon Suites. "It’s important to keep in mind intense indoor heat [from tools] can be just a damaging as overexposure to outdoor heat and elements."

To make sure we're causing the least amount of damage, hair experts say there are a few hot tool rules we should all be following.

5 hot tool rules to follow, according to hairstylists

1. Use a heat protectant

"Never use any heat tools without putting protectant on your strands beforehand," says Dominic Burg, PhD, a chief scientist, hair biologist, and trichologist at Évolis Professional. "Water is the enemy here, so look for treatments rich in oils. Our Promote Treatment Mask ($40) doubles as a heat protectant due to the levels of Baobab and flaxseed oils that hydrate and protects strands."

2. Keep the temperatures low

"Commonly enough, we all put our hot tools on the highest heat setting," says Nicolette Rauchut, a hairstylist at Lrn Beauty in New York City. "All heat tools are not created equal. Some hair textures can not handle high heat settings causing breakage and dryness. Start with a lower setting especially if you have fine or fragile hair chemical services like keratins, relaxers, and color."

3. Make sure your hair is fully dry before styling with heat

"The high heat in flat irons and curlers can instantly vaporize any trapped water in the hair, aka flash drying, causing significant damage to both the internal structures, hair proteins, and cuticles," says Dr. Burg. So before going in with any sort of iron, make sure all the moisture has been blowdried or airdried away.

4. Don't overdo it on the hair spray

For curls that last, it's recommended to spray the hair with hair spray before curling—but make sure you're not using too much. "Keep in mind that hairspray is a sticky product," says Rauchut, noting that higher-hold products tend to be stickier than their lighter counterparts. "If you overspray a spot, the iron can accumulate more heat in that section, causing it to burn the hair. Instead, you should use a flexible hairspray when you curl and stronger hold hairsprays when you're setting."

5. Be gentle around your hairline

"Flat iron curls have become the new at-home style trend, however, I have seen many front pieces burnt off," says Rauchut. "This can be absolutely traumatizing for someone that hates bangs. Sometimes people have more fragile hair in the front than the back, which is entirely normal, especially if you pull your hair back or twist it. Between the tension and high heat, the hair is over manipulated and snaps. The way we fix this is to lower the heat setting when styling the front pieces. Also, keep in mind how long you are in one spot of the hair when styling so the heat doesn't accumulate too fast."

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