How to minimise hair damage if you regularly use a flat iron

Use these techniques to keep your mane healthy and shiny.

Prep your hair right
Using a flat iron can strip your hair of its natural moisture, making it dry and brittle. So it’s important to keep your hair hydrated and prep right when heat styling. Use a moisture-rich shampoo that cleans but also hydrates. Look for one that is formulated for your hair type. Follow this up with a conditioner that replenishes the moisture lost during those days spent with the flat iron. Also, deep condition your hair at least once a week to help repair the damage all the styling has done to your hair. Regular use of restorative hair masks will rejuvenate your hair and help it stay healthy for longer.
Photograph: yanalya / freepik.com

Wait till your hair is completely dry
Wet hair is more vulnerable to damage so using your flat iron on damp hair is a big no-no. Doing so can fry or break your hair and cause irreparable damage to your cuticle. When you iron like this, your wet hair will magnify the heat so that it reaches a dangerous level. Even slightly damp hair is not okay. Allow your hair to completely air dry or use a blow dryer to get the job done. And only then should you bring out the iron.
Photograph: freepik.com

Always, always use a heat protectant
We can’t emphasise this enough. You must follow this step every time you pick up a flat iron or blow dryer. Over time heat damages your hair and you absolutely have to give your hair some protection. Apply a heat protectant serum, spray or gel to your mane to create a protective barrier and keep your hair healthy. Some protectants come with the added benefits of smoothening or adding shine, so your hair won’t look straw-like when you’re done.
Photograph: freepik.com

Section your hair with clips
When using an iron you need to briefly apply heat on different hair sections and avoid going over the same section. When you iron without sectioning your hair off, you are likely to straighten random chunks and go over the same areas again and again. Also, you aren’t applying heat evenly to all strands, especially the bottom layer, so the finished look won’t be sleek, leaving you unsatisfied. Instead we suggest you use hair clips to section your hair. Part your hair down the centre and divide your hair into four sections. Start by ironing the bottom layer at the back and work your way upwards towards your crown.
Photograph: the.faashi / Instagram

Pick an iron with adjustable temperature settings
Spend a little more and opt for heat tools that have adjustable temperature settings. Start by ironing your hair at the lowest temperature and then work your way upwards to find out what works for you. Turning the heat up all the way at the first go is a sure-fire way to damage your locks. If you can smell your hair burning, hear sizzling or have creases in your hair because of the iron then you need to reduce the heat ASAP. Fine or thin hair should be ironed at a low temperature, while you can go a little higher for thick or coarse hair.

Photograph: lucylee58 / Instagram

Lead photograph: freepik.com