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

 

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.

Pressing Hair – is it good for the hair and does it help hair growth?

The short answer to this question is:
It depends on how you press your hair.

The long answer to this question is:
The word pressing can mean different things if you ask different people. To me pressing means taking a heated hair appliance like a flat iron or a pressing comb and running it through the hair to straighten the hair. There are many factors involved in this process which will determine whether or not pressing is good for your hair.

Pressing Can Benefit Your Hair and Help It To Grow If:

1. You don’t press your hair at the highest temperature on your flat iron or pressing comb. High heat can permanently alter the protein bonds in your hair and cause it to lose it’s naturally curly texture when you wash it. When pressing your hair, you should use enough heat to straighten it until you wash it again, but not to the point of permanently changing the natural texture of your hair. If you are using that much heat, you are damaging your hair.

2. You don’t press your hair every day. Again, applying that much heat to your hair will in most cases cause permanent damage to your hair.

3. You don’t press relaxed hair. Hair that has been relaxed has already been weakened by the strong chemicals used on it. Adding heat to the mixture will cause the hair to weaken further.

4. You detangle your hair before you press it. If you detangle your hair before you press it, it will make the pressing comb go through your hair much easier and with much less damage than if you try to use the pressing comb to detangle your hair. I talk about how to detangle hair before pressing in my book Twelve Steps For Growing Black Hair.

5. You use moisturizing hair care products to wash your hair and a thermal protectant, like Northwest Scents™ hair oil, while you are pressing your hair. I have found that one of the differences between hair that presses nicely, and hair that is brittle and breaks while being pressed, is the type of product used on the hair. If you use moisturizing products on your hair, then your hair will be smoother and softer after you press it. My experience is that when using natural products, like Northwest Scents™, the heat of the pressing comb causes the natural oils to penetrate the hair shaft which in turn causes the hair to be softer and more flexible. If you use harsh hair care products, like harsh shampoos which dry out your hair, or products made with lots of synthetic oils, these products will dry out your hair and contribute to breakage while you are pressing your hair.

6. You wear your hair so as not to pull it out. If you press your hair and then wear it tightly braided or pulled into a tight bun or ponytail, you will most likely cause hair breakage.

7. You use an electric tool. It is best to use an electric appliance for pressing your hair (an electric pressing comb or electric flat iron ) so you can regulate the temperature. Remember, you want to use enough heat to straighten your hair until the next wash, but not so much that you damage the protein structure.

8. You don’t get that burnt hair smell. If you smell your hair burning, you are using too much heat and you need to turn the temperature down.

My Solia – A New Flat Iron To Try

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Even though I’ve never been fond of flat irons, I’ve decided to give them one last chance. After watching a relative burn up a whole head of hair using a flat iron (she used it every day), and after trying a flat iron which wasn’t high quality myself (it didn’t hurt my hair, but it didn’t really straighten it either), I had given up on flat irons. But then I got to thinking, and I realized that it wasn’t the flat iron that was the problem, it was the user of the flat iron. In my relative’s case, she turned up the flat iron as high as it would go, and used it every day. In my case, I was expecting too much from a cheap flat iron. So I have invested in a higher quality flat iron, a Solia Flat Iron , and I will see what kind of results I can get out of it. I will not use it at the temperature the manufacturer suggests. I don’t know why they think that black hair can stand a higher temperature than other types of hair. Maybe that is why so many people have problems with flat irons. I plan on using it somewhere between 350 and 400 degrees F.