Hot Tools- A Heated Discussion / by Andrea Lemonds

Straight, curly, wavy, beachy, volume, sexy, flat, retro, glamour are all words used to describe hair manipulated into shape by hot tools- straightening irons, curling irons, crimpers, etc. These can be very useful devices but are also very harmful to hair when used improperly. As with many things, an understanding of the equipment being used (and the hair itself) can go a long way in keeping hair and hot irons in good condition. I hope that the following will refresh you while on this heated journey.

"The heat required to temporarily realign the shape of hair is considerable," says Philip Kingsley from his book The Hair Bible. Simply meaning that too little heat will not produce the desired hair style you want and too much heat will create the style you want but at a high cost of damage to the hair. Finding the right temperature setting for your hair is a journey of discovery; it's about failure and triumph, both of which are necessary. The appropriate setting is different for every head of hair. Hair follows some key words to look for when in search of a good hot tool: temperature setting (FYI- hair begins to melt at 450 degrees Fahrenheit), ceramic plates, and tourmaline. Some basics have been discussed here, but there is more exploring that can be done regarding quality hot tools.

A good hot tool hair routine requires some knowledge before beginning, the following can give you a good place to start. Audrey Davis-Sivasothy states a good approach in her book Science of Black Hair. 1) Keep the heat application to a minimum. "Hair should not be wrapped around or sandwiched within any heating appliance for longer than three to five seconds at a time. ...do not allow the iron to linger too long in one area, especially near the ends of the hair. The ends of the hair heat more quickly due to their naturally lower moisture profile; therefore, heat use should be minimized as much as possible at the ends."  2) Keep the pressure light. "The flat iron or curling iron should gently clasp your hair.... Do your best to keep the hair well within the plates, even if this means using less hair per pass." As I am finding, less really is more...less heat, less pressure, less damage to hair.

Happy Hot Iron Usage!