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Heat Styling Basics (2)

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      The same goes for air-flow speeds. With shorter hairstyles especially a higher air-flow speed simply means that you have less control over the hair. You want to direct the hair in the style you desire, and you can't do that if the air coming from the dryer is consistently pulling the hair out of the styling tool. Use a medium (or the lower setting if there are only two) setting for the air flow to allow you more control of the hair.
 
FHI hair dryer and diffuser attachment       You also need to know how to deal with the kind of hair you have. I'm amazed at the number of women with curly hair who still don't use a diffuser attachment on their blow dryers. Yet these same women complain that they can't blow dry their hair because it takes out their curl. The diffuser creates a soft flow of air that is perfect for drying the hair and leaving the curls intact.
 
      The diffuser is also a must for women who have fine or thin hair. The full blast of the blow dryer is often too strong to allow for any control when dealing with these types of hair, and the hair is very easily over-dried.
 
      Another group who often make mistakes when drying their hair is women with long hair that is dense. They often try to dry their hair all at once and only succeed in drying the outer edges of the hair. If you have long, dense hair, your best bet is to divide the hair into three horizontal sections. Dry the bottom section first, then let down the middle section and dry it. Finally, let down the top section and complete the drying process. This gives even dryness without over-drying the hair to the outside.
 
      Lastly, I'd have to say the biggest mistake most women make in blow drying their hair is the way they direct the air flow. I've watched as women hold sections of their hair out from their heads and directed the blow dryer inward along the hair to the scalp. If you want to get an idea of what this does, imagine a shingled roof in a hurricane or tornado. We've all seen video images of these storms and watched as high winds blew up along the rooftops of houses and peeled back the shingles. Well, the cuticle layer of the hair is patterned just like shingles and all those "shingles" are pointing toward the ends of the hair. The strong blast of heated air going against the direction the cuticle layer grows in causes the cuticle scales to be lifted and can leave the hair roughed up and prone to tangles and snarls, especially in long hair. You always want to direct the air flow in the same direction the hair grows. This helps to keep the cuticle layer flat and leaves the hair looking shiny.
 
Curling Irons and Hot Rollers
 
      I've combined these two appliances, because while they are different, they work on a similar principle: that of using heat to add curl to the hair. The most common complaint I hear about curling irons and hot rollers (especially hot rollers) is that the hair just won't hold a curl. More often than not, the problem isn't with the appliance, but rather it is that the hair hasn't been properly prepared for curling. Some women still fail to realize that the hair must be completely dry before being styled with a curling iron or hot rollers. They think that because their curling iron or hot rollers use steam that the hair can be "a little damp" or that because these appliances heat the hair that they will finish the drying process. In both cases the user is wrong.
 
      The side bonds affected by the heat styling process are the salt and hydrogen bonds in the hair. Both heat and moisture will break these side bonds. If the hair is damp when you use a heat styling appliance the heat may help to break the side bonds, but the hair will likely still be damp and the side bonds won't have reformed into the new curl shape. You don't want your curling iron or hot rollers "completing the drying process" for you, either. The only way the heat removes moisture is by evaporation, or raising the temperature of the moisture to the boiling point. What you are basically doing when you apply a hot curling iron or hot roller to even slightly damp hair is cooking it. Doing this can cause irreparable damage to the hair.
 
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