The Dos & Don’ts Of Heat Styling Your Hair


Whether you break out the curling wand or blow dryer every once in a while, or you rely on these heat styling tools every. single. day, knowing the right way to yield them is paramount to keeping your hair healthy. You probably know a lot of the basic rules – like always spritzing some heat protectant before flipping the “on” switch. But, to make sure you’re not breaking any other major no-nos, go ahead and through this pro advice.

Don’t: Randomly Pick a Temperature Setting

It might be tempting to just turn the heat or airflow all the way up or all the way down, but there’s a reason why these settings are adjustable.

“Adjust the temperature setting – on both irons and blow dryers – according to your unique hair type,” says Jill Buck, a celebrity hairstylist who’s tousled the tresses of Julianne Hough, Nina Dobrev, and Jessica Simpon. “For example, fine hair and color-treated hair needs a low setting in order to achieve the best shine and results. When the setting gets too high for the specific hair texture it falls flat and damage occurs quickly.”

Conversely, thicker, curlier, or coarser hair benefits more from starting with a higher setting, then adjusting as needed. (Starting with a low setting won’t allow the tool to work as effectively.) “Once the hair begins to hold, be sure to continue to dial down the heat to prevent damage and maintain overall hair health,” advises Miko Branch, co-founder of Miss Jessie’s.

Do: Make Sure Hair is Completely Dry Before Styling

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There are a lot of heat styling no-nos out there, but our experts agree that one of the worst offenders is heat styling wet hair.

“The water essentially boils, leaving hair fried, damaged, and dull,” warns Branch. “It can take many treatments to restore hair to its normal elasticity, so heat styling wet hair is something you should definitely not do.”

Either allow your hair to air dry completely or spritz with a heat protectant and blow-dry your hair until it’s thoroughly dry. Then curl or flatten. We know, it’s a time-consuming task, but it’s a must! The only exception to this rule would be if you’re using a blower-meets-styling hybrid, like Revlon’s One-Step Volumizer Hair Dryer, $32.

Don’t: Repeatedly Heat Style the Same Section

Another common mistake people make when heat styling their hair is going over the same piece over and over again in an attempt to beat it into submission. This happens for two primary reasons: poor technique, and lack of patience.

“Make the blow, curl, or flatiron application to each section worth it by holding onto that hairpiece until the result is achieved. This will minimize how many times the heat tool is running through hair,” advises Branch.

In addition to poor technique (such as not twisting the iron enough when trying to create a curl) or not letting the tool rest long enough for the curl to set, unresponsive hair could be the result of existing damage. Doubling down here by repeatedly styling the same section only creates further damage, so it’s best just to move on from that section altogether.

Do: Give Hair TLC from Beginning to End

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Proper heat styling begins in the shower and ends with a finishing product. On days where you’re going to heat style your hair, treat your strands to a nice deep conditioner, such a Drybar Mudslide Nourishing Hair Mask, $35, or Bread Hair Mask Creamy Deep Conditioner, $28.

After stepping out, press the water out of your hair with a soft towel (don’t scrub or rub!), and then apply your leave-in product and/or heat protectant. Only then should you brush or comb through your hair.

heat styling Source: Miss Jessie’s, The Honest Company

“Brushing before [applying a leave-in product] causes breakage, making hair more vulnerable during heat style. For extra coily hair, I recommend adding a nickel-sized dollop of the moisturizing Miss Jessie’s Baby Buttercreme, $32, to damp hair and allowing hair to air dry as much as possible before blowing out,” says Branch. For straight or fine hair, try The Honest Company Conditioning Detangler & Fortifying Spray, $7.

After blow-drying make sure to seal the deal – literally – by hitting your hair with the cool shot. Buck says this sets the hair and seals cuticles, which helps nix frizz.

heat styling Source: Sally Hershberger, NatureLab.

Once drying and styling is complete, follow up with a serum or hydrating oil, advises Jae Manuel Cardenas, a hairstylist at the famed Sally Hershberger salon in NYC. “Serums and oils help to keep the hair strong, shiny, and sealed, especially the ends which are always at risk of splitting or breaking,” Cardenas explains. Try the Sally Hershberger 24K Nourishing Dry Oil, $40, or NatureLab. Tokyo Perfect Shine Oil Mist, $17.

We know it’s a lot, but your hair will be so happy it might even write you a thank you note. Here’s to many glorious hair days in your future!

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