Why Now Is The Perfect Time To Ditch Your Hot Tools + What You Should Do Instead
As we close out another week of quarantine, your grooming habits may have become more minimal—perhaps out of a lack of interest, time, or simply need. And according to hairstylists, this time away from our hot tools might actually be a good thing—for some, it might be the friendly shove we need to embrace our natural texture and give our hair (and hot tools) a little break. Here's why you shouldn't reach for those hot tools as much, especially if you're facing some frizz.
Using hot tools every day can cause damage.
Here's the hard truth: Heat harms your hair. And if you use hot tools on the regular, that daily heat damage can give your strands quite the beating. Heat can restructure and restyle your hair pattern by breaking down the hydrogen bonds in your hair; while that process gives us the curls or straight strands we want, do it daily and it can be pretty damaging. One study even found that daily heat styling can cause significant breakage and roughness, which seems a little counterintuitive for those who constantly run a flatiron through their hair to smooth out the texture. Even if you rake a heat protectant through your strands before blow-drying (which you should), too much concentrated heat can leave your hair frizzled and frayed.
"Hot tools can be even more damaging than hair color," celebrity colorist Rita Hazan notes. That's because applying heat to your hair every day can open up the hair shaft over time, leading to things like breakage and dry, brittle strands, not to mention decreased shine. Although it's a good time to ditch hair color as well, you wouldn't typically use it daily, perhaps only to cover up a few patches of gray (plus, many new offerings can have better-for-you ingredients: our favorite dyes here).
Your hair—like your skin, mind, and body—deserves a rest and reset.
Giving your skin a break from makeup and comedogenic products can allow your pores to breathe, and your hair bonds deserve that love, too. Alicia Miller, national master trainer for Davines North America, agrees: "Giving our hair and scalp time to reset and rest increases their overall appearance and health." That said, even your hair follicles may thrive without being scorched.
If you're really trying to repair your hair during quarantine, you can even take it a step further by trying to mitigate the damage your hot tools have already done. "Most people seek out a haircut to manage damage from hot tools," says hairstylist Clay Nielsen. The problem is, you can't exactly plop yourself down in a salon chair at the moment (you can attempt a DIY trim, but it's not a project you should take on at a whim).
For now, you can rely on hair treatments to repair the damage—think hair masks, hot oil treatments, scalp scrubs, all those good things to help salvage broken hair bonds, remove buildup, and restore your hair's natural sheen.
"Use this time to hydrate and nourish your hair," Miller adds. In other words, pile on the moisturizing treatments and keep the hot tools out of reach, even for just a few weeks—your strands will thank you.
How to fake a blowout.
If there's one silver lining of being stuck at home, it's that only the people you're self-isolating with will witness your unkempt hair. So, who cares? Air-dry away. But if you're looking to enhance your look without sacrificing your hair's R&R (perhaps you have an important virtual meeting, a happy hour, or a FaceTime date), it's definitely possible to have fun with heatless styles.
Rather than plugging in your curling wand, "Apply a light hold product to your hair (brushing or combing through to disperse evenly), and you can do several loose braids and let your hair air-dry that way. When the braids are taken out, it will give you a nice wavy texture," says Nielsen.
You can even try out different types of braids to get a unique texture each time you air-dry (because if you're going to embark on the journey of air-drying, why not make it a full-on experiment?). Try two-strand, three-strand, even four-strand braids and see how your curls lie.
If you're looking for that relaxed wave only your trusty blow dryer can give, Nielsen mentions you can play with multiple messy knots: "Think one on top and one in the back." It'll give you some body to your hair without going full curl.
The bottom line.
If you typically use hot tools every day, now is the perfect opportunity to give your hair a break. If you are going to pare back your routine, do your best not to panic-grab for the blow-dryer the moment your hair starts to frizz post-shower—if your strands are damaged, that frizz is bound to happen! Once your hair shafts start to repair, you'll be able to see your true hair texture and assess which leave-in stylers work best. In the meantime, may we suggest a purposefully messy top knot?
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Jamie Schneider is the Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.