Things we miss: Haircuts, highlights and that heavenly scalp massage that only your stylist can give you. Things we don’t miss as much: Blow drying, flat ironing, curling or otherwise styling our hair every morning before work. Obvious time savings aside, we (cue Carrie Bradshaw) couldn’t help but wonder, what happens when you stop heat styling your hair?
Giovanni Vaccaro, the artistic director for Glamsquad, and Linda Flowers, a celebrity hairstylist, explain what happens when you turn down the heat.
Will it make my hair healthier?
“When you stop heat styling your hair, it might appear to get healthier,” says Flowers. “To what extent really depends on your texture and how much heat you use to begin with.”
Vaccaro agrees, explaining that this is especially true for anyone with natural curls. “You may notice that the less heat you apply to your hair, the bouncier your curls and waves will become after a few weeks,” he says. “Long-term heat styling can change your natural texture and you may start to see this happen if you are someone who regularly uses a flat iron and gets your hair colored or highlighted often.”
As for the ecstatic claims you see from folks claiming that a ban on blowdrying led to faster growing or thicker hair, that's a bit, shall we say, misleading. What's actually happening here is that the decrease in heat styling means there's less likelihood of breakage or split ends—both of which can cause your hair to feel like it's never growing and appear scragglier.
On that note: Heat or no heat, it's important to switch up your style every couple days (think: a low bun on Monday to loose pony on Tuesday) so you don't cause any tension in one area (which can lead to breakage over time).
So, is heat styling really bad for my hair?
“Heat styling can get a bad reputation, but if you take the right measures to protect your hair beforehand, you don’t have to give it up,” says Vacarro. “I always advise using a thermal protectant before styling because it acts like a barrier between your hair and the heat to protect it from drying out and causing excessive damage.”
Flowers seconds using a thermal protection spray to “help your hair keep its integrity without having to sacrifice your look.” She adds that in addition to providing heat protection, these sprays also “give great shine and remove frizz,” so it’s a win-win.
In sum, take the extra step to use heat safely and you won't have to worry so much about causing damage. The only caveat here is if you have very brittle or chemically processed hair, in which case, yes, laying off the heat (i.e., only using it for special occasions) will help nurse your strands back to a healthier state.
OK, any tips for getting a smoother finish without using heat?
“If you are someone who wants to wear your hair natural, but are concerned with it looking puffy, I recommend using an anti-frizz serum or cream or a leave-in conditioner to help tame your hair and relax the style so it doesn’t frizz up on you,” advises Vacarro. “And if you’re especially prone to frizz, I’d try using a lightweight hairspray as a finishing step to help lock in the moisture, which will defend against frizz, especially as we head into the summer.”
“I like to take a two-step approach,” says Flowers. “First, deep condition your hair two to three times a week to really hydrate it.” The drier your hair, the more likely it is to frizz. After you get out of the shower and blot your wet hair with a towel, “add a leave-in conditioning spray before letting it air dry. This combo ensures that you get a naturally smooth and less puffy finish.”
Your tool kit: Hask Monoi Coconut Oil Nourishing Deep Conditioner Packet ($3); Sun Bum Deep Conditioning Mask ($4); Hask Argan Oil 5-in-1 Leave-In Spray ($8); Glamsquad The Iconic Blowout Styling Lotion ($22); Ouai Leave-In Conditioner ($26); Glamsquad Take Hold Flexible Hairspray ($26); Bumble and Bumble Spray de Mode Flexible Hold Hairspray ($32)