With dry bars popping up throughout major cities, professional blowouts have become as accessible and convenient as mani/pedis at the corner nail salon. “For a modest price, it’s easier than ever to get your hair professionally styled several times a week,” says Kristy Dicus, a colorist at the Frédéric Fekkai salon in Los Angeles. The downside? Increased, close-range contact with heated appliances can leave strands looking dull and fried over time.
Even if you don’t have a standing appointment or monthly membership to DryBar, DIY styling with dryers, curling irons and flatirons can still result in frizz, split ends and breakage. “Heat tools typically run anywhere from 300 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit,” explains Melissa Harvey, a New York-based consulting trichologist (hair scientist) with hair growth company Bio Follicle. “They speed up evaporation, and the wind from the dryer draws tiny water droplets into the air.” In the short term, you’re left with hair that appears smooth and tame, but over time, repeat offenders will suffer permanent shaft damage, dryness and split ends. “Hair isn’t designed to withstand more than 120 degrees of heat,” Harvey says. “If your hair is fine, adjust your tool to the lowest setting, and even if it’s thick, you should still proceed with caution on high temps.”
Since most of us aren’t about to start air-drying every day (though Harvey does recommend switching up your routine and restricting heat tools to just once or twice a week), major companies have developed new, multi-tasking products that aim to speed up drying and styling time, thereby limiting exposure to heat. The titanium-coated barrel on the John Frieda Styling Tools by Conair Salon Shape Hot Air Brush ($40, at drugstores), for example, can be used to create Old-Hollywood waves on wet or dry hair, thanks to two heat settings and one cold one that eliminate the need for using hot rollers after blow-drying.
The Cricket Static Free Fast Flow Brush is designed with large vents to help reduce styling time, and its static-free bristles prevent flyaways so you don’t have to direct the dryer nozzle near delicate roots or follow with a straightening iron. And the new, practically foolproof Coolway AutoSense Styler first measures moisture levels in your hair then automatically adjusts its already low temperature (below 300 degrees) while passing over hair sections. According to in-house clinical tests, hair breakage was reduced by 75 percent, and frizz by 50 percent. And thanks to its ceramic plate technology, the company claims it actually strengthens and improves hair quality by up to 300 percent while you style. “Ceramic irons work by sealing off the hair cuticle to make hair appear shinier,” Harvey says. “They’re great for those with already dry or damaged hair since they help lock in moisture.”
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