What are the dangers of using a flat iron on wet hair?

My answer to What are the dangers of using a flat iron on wet hair?

Answer by O. Franklin:

Using a flat iron on wet hair will cause bubble hair. Bubble hair is when the naturally occurring spaces that exist in hair become filled with water, and then heat is applied to the hair. The water in the hair vaporizes, and when it vaporizes it expands and causes hair damage.

The following study explains this very nicely:

“Bubble hair is a sign of thermal injury. Hair dryers operating at 175°C or more can cause bubble hair. The use of hair curling tongs operating at 125°C and applied to the hair for one minute can also induce bubbles in hair fiber.[1] All hair fibers contain air-filled spaces called vacuoles. These spaces can also become filled with water when the hair is wet. Too much heat vaporizes the water in the hair fibre into steam. This vaporization of the water may force the spaces in the hair to expand, eventually turning the hair into a sponge-like structure. These damaged hairs are weak and brittle as the bubbles destroy the integrity of the fiber.[4] Chemical treatment may also precipitate the onset of bubble hair and any already weak hair, whatever the cause, may be more susceptible to bubble development.[3]”

Bubble Hair and Other Acquired Hair Shaft Anomalies due to Hot Ironing on Wet Hair



Hair Update – The Hair Journey Continues – The Importance of Nutrition for Hair Growth and Health

Over the past ten years I have learned a lot about my hair.  The main lesson that I have learned is that what you put inside your body is as important as what you put on the outside of your body when it comes to hair care.  I learned this lesson the hard way.  When you are older and you don’t have as much time to spend on your hair as you did when you were younger (as in my case), it is easy to overlook things that can end up having a detrimental effect on your hair.  In my case,  I have food sensitivities, and because of that I had eliminated a major source of protein (in the form of yogurt) from my breakfast (I am allergic to milk). I had also eliminated my favorite source of iron (Malt-O-Meal cereal) from my breakfast because of a slight wheat sensitivity.  (I’m allergic to dietary wheat, not wheat based products applied to the skin and/or hair).  I eliminated these two sources of nutrients, and didn’t replace them adequately, and as a result, my hair suffered.  Even though my multivitamin has 100% if the daily RDA of iron for women, this form of iron doesn’t absorb as well as food sources of iron. I know because I can tell the difference in my hair now that I have added a food source of iron back to my diet (see below).   Hormonal changes (those that come with age) also affected my hair. It took several years, but even with taking care of my hair on the outside, the elimination of important nutrients affected my hair from the inside.  My hair became dry and brittle, and it broke off and thinned.  I knew something was going on, but again, being very busy, I didn’t take the time to really look at my hair until the damage was done.

So phase two of my hair journey is the process of me nurturing my hair back to health from the inside out.  These are the things that I have started to do to nuture my hair:

  1. Eat two hardboiled eggs a day (for protein). Based on what I am seeing with my hair I think that the eggs are better than the yogurt I was eating previously. According to Dr. Mercola “Eggs are a phenomenal source of protein, fat, and other nutrients, including choline and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. They are so good for you that you can easily eat one dozen eggs per week, which is actually a simple and cost-effective way to add valuable nutrition to your diet.”
  2. Take 1 tablespoon of organic blackstrap molasses a day for iron.  According to what I have read, food sources of iron are much safer than supplements.  The brand I take is Plantation. Their organic blackstrap molasses is rich in iron, calcium and magnesium. I mix it with almond milk for a beverage, or almond butter for a creamy treat.
  3. I’ve changed my hair routine to go heatless.  I have challenged myself to do my hair without any form of heat.  I still believe that pressing hair has its place (see my earlier posts) and I am not against hair pressing as a way to manage natural hair, but I think that it is good to have multiple options when dealing with natural hair, and for my needs at this point in my life I have decided to go without heat.  As a result, I am learning to do two strand twists on my hair, and have developed a couple of new products to help with this process (I will talk about my experience doing two strand twists and a twist out in an upcoming post).

Natural Black Hair Care Growth Tip – Patience is key

One thing that I have learned in my journey to growing longer hair is to be patient.  In the country where I live – the United States of America, most of us are used to having almost everything we want or need instantly. If we want to eat, we can go to a fast food restaurant and get a meal within minutes. If we want clothes we can go to the store and buy them instantly. If we want information about something, we can look it up on the internet and get a variety of answers (some good, some not so good) within minutes.  But growing hair is one of the things that doesn’t work that way. Growing hair, takes time, and it takes patience. I’ve learned to slow down in my approach to taking care of my hair. Instead of rushing when I do it, I take my time.

New Product For Detangling Black and Afro Textured Hair

We have a new product available for detangling natural Black and Afro Textured hair. The product is called Northwest Scents Detangling and Cleansing Cream. It feels like a conditioner, but you use it like a shampoo. It cleanses without leaving the hair “squeaky” and while the product is in your hair (it should be put into your hair when your hair is soaking wet during the washing process) you can gently comb through your hair with a wide tooth comb to detangle it.
For more about detangling please see my earlier post

Question about my hair routine

Question: Can you please tell me your method of how you grew your hair, and how long it took, because i want to regrow my hair naturally, thank you.

Answer: Hi. My method began when I realized that the problem wasn’t that my hair wasn’t growing, it was breaking off. So instead of focusing on how to help it grow, because it was already growing, I decided to focus on how not to break off my hair. Then I started analyzing all of the things that I was doing to take care of my hair. I looked at how I washed it, styled it, what products I used on it, etc. I looked at whether or not my hair was breaking when I handled it, and I changed my routines to work with my hair so that it stopped breaking off.

For example, my old hair washing routine would be:

1. Take down hair
2. Wet hair, apply shampoo, scrub scalp, rinse
3. Repeat step 2
4. Apply conditioner, rinse
5. Towel dry, then comb through hair

Realizing that I needed to make some changes, I decided to look at the products I was using. I’ve never really been a product junkie. When I was younger I would use whatever was in the house, then when I got married I used my husband’s brand (St. Ives), and later on I decided to go more natural, and started using a natural liquid castile soap as my shampoo. During this time I had noticed that my hair was never really soft, but I didn’t think about it too much. It wasn’t until I started really taking a look at my hair care practices, that I decided to change my method, and change my hair products. I tried different natural shampoos (Jason’s, Nature’s Gate) but none of them really worked out for me. So I formulated my own brand (Northwest Scents™) which has made the difference for me in how my hair feels and how easy it is to work with.

Then I looked at my hair washing and conditioning method. My old method caused hair breakage due to the type of shampoo I was using, and because I would comb through my hair after I was done washing and conditioning it. I discovered that the best time to comb through natural, textured black hair is when the hair is wet and has something it in that allows a comb to pass through easily (like a rich natural conditioner).

Now my hair washing routine is:

1. Take down hair
2. Section into braids.
3. Wet hair, and wash each braid individually.
4. Condition each braid individually.
5. While hair is still wet, in braids, and with conditioner in it, detangle each braid individually.

Even though my new routine is more work, it isn’t as much work as it looks like, and it is easier on my hair. This has resulted in reducing hair breakage, which has resulted in hair growth. I talk more about my routine, and other things that I do in my book – Twelve Steps For Growing Black Hair.

As far as a time frame, once I started using my new method, I saw a difference in 30 days. It wasn’t a huge difference, because hair only grows 1/4″ to 1/2″ a month. But I still saw a difference. I could tell that my hair was getting longer because I could see a little bit of growth. I also wasn’t loosing as much hair as before. It took longer to see a dramatic difference because I still had some things to change. I loosened up my hairstyle and I stopped using brushes. This has helped my hair to grow back along my hairline where I had lost some hair.

Question about heat damage

Question. I’ve got heat damaged ends that won’t revert. Do I just keep on pressing (lighter application of heat and heat protectants)or lay off the heat. I haven’t pressed in about 6 months and the new growth is killing me! Thx.

Answer: I would suggest that you trim the heat damaged ends off, if it is isn’t too much. If your main goal with pressing is to control your new growth, I suggest that you try moisturizing and detangling the new growth with a gentle shampoo and rich conditioner like the ones we offer at http://www.nwscents.com. If you want to try pressing again, use a much lower heat setting and be sure to use a heat protectant that doesn’t contain any kind of grain alcohol (which will be listed as SD-alcohol on the label) or other drying ingredients. I use hair oil, but you may prefer something different. Be sure to follow the tips that we have for pressing on this blog. Don’t make the objective of pressing your hair to have “pin-straight” hair. That is where many people end up damaging their hair. Use pressing as a way to gain more control over your hair. You can also control your hair in it’s naturally textured state with the right products. If you have any more questions, let me know. O. Franklin

Question about hot combing (pressing) hair

Question: I was wondering if hot combing would work for me so I tried it, however, the hot combing style doesn’t last on my hair for more than two days, my ends are also very resistant. Is it because it was done incorrectly or it needs to be done more frequently? My hair is typical african american hair however much more kinkier/dry than normal and relaxers easily damages it after many usages. Thanks a lot.

Answer:. Hi. My goal in writing about hot combing is not to convince all black women that they need to wear their hair straight, it is simply to show another method of taking care of our hair without chemicals or synthetic hair. What I have found with hair straightening is that the products you use on your hair and the tools you use to press your hair really make a difference. Here are some tips that have worked for me:

1. The products that you use make a difference. I have gotten the best hair growth after I started using Northwest Scents products, because these are designed to be very moisturizing and gentle. My hair doesn’t press “bone” straight, but it is much softer and easier to detangle than it was before.

2. The tools that you use make a difference. If you choose to straighten your hair I recommend an electric pressing comb or a flat iron at a temperature that will gently straighten your hair, but not cause it to burn or to become permanently straight. For me that is setting 14 on my comb with 20 settings. Lately I have been experimenting with a flat iron. The brand I am using is Solia. The flat iron will get your hair much straighter than the pressing comb, but you have to be really really really careful with it because it gets much hotter than the pressing comb, and I think it has a greater potential to do irrepairable damage to the hair if it is used improperly. If you decide to experiment with a flat iron, please keep the temperature low.

3. The condition of your hair makes a difference. If you are trying to press hair that is in a weakened state from chemical relaxers or something else, you will not get the best results. You should first focus on nuturing your hair back to health, without chemicals, and then if you still want to press your hair, try it. I do not have any chemical treatments in my hair.


Update on the Solia

After using the Solia for a while I can say that I’ve been pleased with it’s quality. It heats up quickly, it is easy to clean, and it has true ceramic plates that don’t chip like others that I have seen. However, it is still a flat iron, and I believe that if you use any heated tool you need to exercise great caution with it so that you don’t damage your hair from excessive heat or overuse. I still have to use a pressing comb for detangling at the roots (because flat irons don’t detangle). And it leaves my hair with a flat look unlike the pressing comb which seems to leave waves in my hair. However, I feel that the flat iron does really work the oils into my hair. I use it at about 370 degrees.