How Do Flat Irons For Hair Work? A Look At The Science Of Hair

by HSI Professional | Jan 12 2017

You probably can't name anyone you know who wouldn't be without their heated styling tools. Your natural hair is great, but it can always be made that little bit better. That's why women with wavy hair employ curling wands to get picture perfect curls, and why women with flatter manes use flat irons for hair to get poker straight locks. We know flat irons work, but how do they work? This guide will tell you all about the science behind your favorite styling tools.

It's Easy To Change The Shape Of Your Hair

You know that it's easy to change how your hair looks. We've never been so spoiled for choice for new hair looks as we are right now. The key is in the heat you use on your hair. It's simple to pick the right temperature and use it to change your hair, without burning or damaging it. So, what is it about heat that can change the way your hair behaves?

Why Your Hair Is The Shape It Is

First, we need to look at why your hair is the shape it is now. The secret lies in the hair follicle. Each strand of hair is made up of a few different segments. The follicle is contained within the hair shaft. There's also proteins such as keratin and melanin, and trace metallic elements. The follicle is important, because everyone's follicles are a different shape.

The shape is what determines the natural style of your hair. For example, a follicle that's round produces straight hair. An oval follicle produces curly hair. That's because an oval shaft isn't even on all sides. Think about how you curl a ribbon using a pair of scissors. The ribbon curls because you've made one edge rough and uneven. That's how your curly hair follicle works.

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How Heat Affects Your Hair

So, we know why your hair forms it's natural style. What is it about heat that changes that style? Heat can't change the follicle shape proper, but it can force it to change temporarily. Remember when we mentioned keratin earlier? It's the protein that holds you hair in its current shape. It's kept together by hydrogen bonds, which can be altered in two ways: by heat, or by moisture.

When these bonds are weakened or broken, they allow you to rearrange the shape of the hair before reforming, setting the hair into its new style. What does that mean when you use your professional hair straightener? Well, in layman's terms you're using the heat to break those hydrogen bonds.

When they're broken, the hair will set flat and when they reform, it will stay in the new, straight style until you break them again. That, for most people, means when you wash it or restyle it.

The Science Behind Heat Damage

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While we're learning about how your hair is affected by science, it's worth seeing why heat damage happens, too. What is about heat that damages your hair? Every strand of your hair is made up of layers, and the outer layer is made up of scales that point downwards, protecting the inner workings of the shaft. These normally stay closed, but heat can cause these scales to lift and crack.

When this happens, it allows dangerous elements to enter the inner workings of your hair, such as sunlight and chemicals. Over time, this leads to the degradation of the cortex of your hair and leads to damage. When put like this it sounds rather frightening, but there's actually very simple ways to avoid heat damage. Firstly, when you can, give your hair straightener a rest.

A day off can do your hair the world of good, and prevention is always better than cure. Secondly, always use a heat protectant when you're styling your hair. We recommend our argan oil heat protectant spray, as it provides the protecting layer without leaving chemicals on your hair.

What You Need From A Hair Straightner

Ok, now we know the science behind how flat irons work and how heat can damage your hair, what do you need to look for when shopping for a new set? You'll need straighteners that you can control the temperature of. A set with a dial is always a good bet, as you can then set it as low as you can and still get straight hair with them. Even better are a set from our range here at HSI.

Our HeatBalance technology means you'll never have a set of flat irons that are too hot, therefore protecting your hair. And there you have it. Knowing the science behind your heated styling tools means that you can decide what's best for your hair. Buy a set of HeatBalance enabled flat irons and you'll have beautiful hair every time.


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