Heat Styling Basics (2)

Flat iron styling
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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. 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 airflow. I've watched as women hold sections of their hair away from their heads and direct 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 airflow in the same direction the hair grows. This helps to keep the cuticle layer flat and leave 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, they are wrong.
Curling hair with a curling iron
Photo: A’s Images/Canva
The side bonds affected by the heat styling process are the salt and hydrogen bonds in the hair. Both heat and moisture can 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 essentially 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.
So, make sure that your hair is completely dry before you use a curling iron or hot rollers. You also want to make sure that you use some styling product on your hair as well, either before you dry it (like styling gel) or before you use the appliance in question (like hairspray). This will give the hair more structure and help the curls to last as long as possible.
Flat Irons
I could almost have included flat irons with curling irons and hot rollers, except that there is one mistake commonly made when using a flat iron that isn't applicable with the other two heated appliances. Like the curling iron and hot rollers, the hair must be completely dry before using the flat iron, and you will get better results if you also use a styling product. However, the most common mistake women make when using the flat iron is in the way they dry their hair.
Flat iron to straighten hair
Many women think that since they will be straightening the hair with a flat iron, they only need to concern themselves with getting the hair dry. But if you blow dry the hair straight before using the flat iron, you will find you get much better results.
Another mistake women make when using a flat iron is overloading the iron. They try to pass too much hair through the iron at one time. All this does is create uneven heat and uneven tension, both of which lead to uneven straightening and can cause damage to the hair on the outside of the section being straightened because the first impulse is to leave the iron in place longer.
The sections being pressed should be no thicker than 1/8 inch (0.3 cm). Take a section of hair, slide it between the flat iron plates, position the iron at the scalp, press together and slide the iron down to the ends in a smooth, even motion. This may mean that flat ironing your hair takes longer than before, but the results will be well worth it.
See also:
Burned smell when using a curling iron
How badly will straightening damage my hair?
Will flat iron hair straightening cause split ends?
How often you can use flat irons