Like many women, I thought my straightener was my best friend. For nearly ten years I chose to ignore the large amount of hairs that fell to the floor each time I would use it. My hair looked sleek and shiny but over time it started to feel increasingly brittle. The penny dropped when looking at photos I realised I had only half the hair I used to. And why did it look like I had randomly hacked into it with a razor?
The Facts: Budget straighteners usually come with metal plates. Under a microscope, these plates look like sandpaper. They don’t distribute heat evenly and the abrasive surface can cause damage to your hair.
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Ceramic straighteners are microscopically smooth and distribute heat evenly. Though they may not feel like they are damaging your hair, when used on a regular basis they can also take a destructive toll on the structure of your hair and cause very noticeable problems.18
Here’s why. The hot tongs of straighteners damage the outer layer of the hair fibre, leading to a dry, weathered look with strands that split and snap off easily. Trichologists (scientists who study hair and scalps) link overuse of hair straighteners to creating more frizz, setting up a ‘straightener usage’ cycle.
Any heat over 180 degrees Celsius damages the cuticles of the hair. The cuticle should lie flat, but repeated straightening causes a breakdown in the cuticle. The ‘slates’ start to lift and the rough, uneven surface exposes the cortex, allowing the fibres to unravel. This starts as split ends, but can reach all the way up the hair, causing it to break off.