Burned hair: the causes and consequences unraveled by a specialist
August 9, 2021
At a basic level, heat damage is caused by tools like flat irons, curling irons, and hair dryers. With regular use of these tools, hair strands tend to dry out, break, and split, making your hair look and feel rough. But burned hair can also be caused by bleaching.
Now, although this all seems pretty straightforward, there is more to the story. To break it down and enlighten you to the harsh truths of burnt hair we listed the reasons to make it easier to understand.
What are the causes of burned hair?
High temperatures, which can break the internal protein bond of the hair fiber.
The sun, because like skin, hair can be damaged by prolonged and direct exposure.
Very strong chemical processes such as discoloration.
What is heat damage?
As we said, burned hair is a consequence of, mainly, the use of heat tools, but how do they affect our hair?
To give you a more detailed explanation, we caught up with Peter Bailey, Global Hair Care Technical Manager at Unilever. He told us: “ Hair damage from hair dryer use is superficial damage. On the other hand, when the straighteners are used at high temperatures, the damage to the hair fiber is internal ”.
Burned hair: before and after
He went on to explain that, when blow-drying, the temperature is maintained at around 50 ° C and fiber-to-fiber contact increases, which can cause the cuticle to peel off and leave the surface of the hair fiber rough. On the other hand, irons and other tools are much hotter and, at about 150 ° C, the protein in the hair cortex undergoes a transition in which thermal energy can break some of the bonds between the proteins that give the hair fiber its strength and structure.
What does all this mean for your hair? Which can become dry, brittle and split ends (better known as damaged hair ). But there is another type of heat damage that you should also be aware of …
Hair burned from discoloration
Discoloration is one of the most aggressive processes for the cuticle. Bleaching hair, that is, removing its original melanin to give it another color, is a job that must be done by a specialist. As it is a chemical treatment, it is important that it be carried out correctly and with the necessary precautions.
Hair burned by discoloration can be the result of prolonged exposure, an incorrect choice of hydrogen peroxide volumes or a discoloration on an existing one.
Therefore, it is important to know that there is no ideal exposure time. Each skin reacts differently, so it is essential to observe and not overexpose to achieve a certain result. If what you want is to clarify more, then you have to wait a reasonable time to bleach again. The specialist will know how to determine the times according to your needs.
On the other hand, the greater the volume of hydrogen peroxide, the stronger the discoloration will be. If you are going to dye your hair at home , keep this in mind and start small.
The consequence of hair burned by discoloration is fine, weak, brittle, chemically cut hair that falls out easily.
Unfortunately, the only way to get the hair cuticle back is to cut it off and make the hair grow healthy from scratch. There are products that help what remains burned look and feel better but the hair fiber is not repaired.
Is it possible that burned hair is a product of sun exposure?
Have you ever noticed that after a beach vacation your hair feels less silky? That’s because, like skin, your hair can be damaged by the sun.
Peter explains that during long periods of UV exposure, “the creation of highly reactive free radicals can react with amino acids within the hair protein chains,” which can lead to the unfolding of protein structures, resulting in result in hair that is weaker and prone to damage.
Prolonged exposure to UV rays can also contribute to the removal of the lipid layer on the outer surface of the hair fiber, making it rougher and less easy to style or detangle. It’s a little scary, isn’t it?
Symptoms of sunburned hair
Less shine and smoothness.
More split ends.
So with that being said, how can you tell if your hair is sunburned? Like the damage done to the skin, there are some visible changes. Damage is seen through color change, decreased smoothness and shine, and more split ends.
How can I protect my hair from sun damage?
Cover with a hat .
Use hair products with UV filters.
Limit direct sun exposure.
We are not going to tell you to lock yourself in all summer, but we do recommend that, just as you use a sunscreen for your skin, you also use it for your hair. Well, the best way is to cover yourself with a hat. But if you still want to show off your hair, try TRESemmé’s Anti- Frizz Comb Cream, which is formulated with UV filters that help protect your hair from the sun.
How to recover burned hair
If you think you are already suffering from the effects of burned hair, there are a few things that can be done to remedy this. The most important thing to remember is to always wear a thermal protector before applying heat, but for now, try one of these top tips:
1- Cut the tips
Unfortunately, if the hair is damaged and the flowered ends have already appeared , there is nothing you can do to repair it. Your only option is to cut the ends and, in this way, give your hair a fresh start.
We know this can be daunting, but don’t worry. If you cut your hair regularly , it will keep it looking healthy and this will also help you maintain a longer length.
2- Use a treatment cream
As we said, you cannot repair burned hair but you can help hydrate it by using a treatment cream once a week.
These treatments come in all shapes and sizes, but we love nourishing masks like Dove Nutrition Factor 80 1 Minute Mask . Its formula was specially designed for extremely damaged hair and guarantees the nutrition that this type of hair needs.
3- Avoid the heat
It goes without saying. But if heat tools are damaging your hair a lot, then you’re going to have to give them a break. You can try, for example, drying your hair with the cold air or wind mode. Instead of using the loop, try the waves without heat or leaving braids for a long time and then enjoy its effect.
4- Use a pillow with a silk or satin cover
If you have burned hair from using heat tools, you should avoid other forms of damage as well. Something that not many people know is that, when you sleep on a cotton cover, the strands rub against each other, producing friction and, therefore, more damage (buuuu).
However, when you sleep on a silk or satin cover, both the friction created and the moisture absorbed by your strands is reduced. Be careful, leaving the conditioner overnight can also help. Sweet Dreams!
The Precise Barber has been styling hair for over 10 years. His educational background includes several advanced haircutting classes and training in using products that are good for you.