Why are curls and waves more vulnerable to heat?

Are all kinds of heat bad?

What can I do to prevent heat damage?

loose natural curly hair

Heat can be bad for all hair types but waves and curls just feel so much more precious. Am I biased? Maybe 😉

What we can be sure of is that curly hair is defined by its pattern and this is one thing that can be lost by heat damage.

I used to blow dry my hair, straighten my hair..and then even when I was starting to wear it curly I would even out areas which didn’t clump by curling them separately with a curling wand. Man, I loved that thing..

Through experimentation I found that the less heat I used, the better condition my hair seemed to be in. This is hardly shocking but to see the results myself was powerful. It made me think twice.

Why are curls more susceptible to heat damage?

Curly and wavy hair has weak cross-sectional points.

These make it vulnerable to breakage and heat damage.  Plus textured hair can often be drier than straight hair due to the way sebum is distributed from the follicle.

weak points in curly hair

The consequences of breaking the bonds in curly hair can be:

  • Brittle Texture
  • Dryness
  • Breakage

These can all lead to a loss of curl pattern. Yikes!

Can I even use a diffuser?

There isn’t always time to air dry, right?

Low heat can work to style your hair without causing damage. Use a diffuser on the lowest heat setting to ensure that damage is minimised.

air dry wet curly hair

Even so, it is best not to heat style every day. Give your hair a rest and dry shampoo/curl refresh instead or air dry naturally when possible!

Heat protectants offer protection from heat but nothing will shield your hair from damage completely.

If you are using a heat-styling tool such as a curling wand these are temperatures to look out for..

The optimal temperature for styling is 185C/365F – this is enough to make the hair ‘mouldable’ so that the style/shape of the strands can be altered, but not high enough to cause permanent damage. Above 210C/410F you are effectively melting your hair and causing permanent damage 🙁

Got it! So what do we need to do?

Make sure you are adding as much moisture into your hair as possible through treatments.

Use moisture and protein treatments regularly.

Most importantly – use a heat protector!

There are lots of sprays and serums which offer protection from heat styling. However, the things to look out for are silicones. Silicones build up on hair and prevent moisture from penetrating it. This will eventually dry hair out leading to brittle and broken hair.

Catch 22 then? Not quite, water-soluble silicones are best. They are just that – they dissolve in water and are easy to wash out. They won’t build up on hair and won’t block out as much moisture.

thumbs up on pink background

Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein is a great one! It is water-soluble and penetrates the hair cortex. As well as providing a protective barrier from heat it also strengthens and moisturises hair, great for curls!

Face Plant!

I have genuinely just spent an hour researching Hydrolyzed Wheat Proteins. Why they are the best and then which products they can be found in.. I was fully invested in finding a new heat protector to recommend…and then..

Turns out they are the heat protectant in the product that I use already!

Ok, part face plant, but mostly joy! I could have just had faith in the product that I use already (or wandered 2 metres and checked the bottle..)

It is Kevin Murphy HEATED.DEFENSE. I love this product already. Hooray! It is a light leave-in foam, really light and easy to apply. It protects hair up to 232C/450F. I use it on wet or dry hair. It also has a tiny bit of hold which is fab.

kevin murphy heated defense with other products
i love kevin murphy heated defense

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Curls are beautiful and fragile and the question ‘is heat bad for curls?’ is a tricky one. If possible try not to use heat at all. There are ways of getting around it!

My own favourite is perm rods and I explain all in this post

If you are going to use heat, be sure to fully protect those curls! They will love you for it.

Lauren xx

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