According completely to another survey, we have been a nation wedded to Babyliss Straightener Review. A third of all women – plus an astonishing one in five men – now own a set. And more than a quarter refuse to leave the house without first ironing our hair into Jennifer Aniston-like smoothness.
But trichologists say that the harm caused by straighteners can actually make hair frizzier and curlier, starting a ‘straightener addiction’ cycle that can, eventually, cause hair to seem thin and dull.
Consultant Trichologist Iain Sallis (hairmedic.co.uk) is Britain’s only hospital-based trichologist with seven private clinics across the UK. He says, ‘I regularly see women panicking because their hair has apparently started to drop out. But in fact, their hair is simply breaking off due to their straightener addiction.’
He explains exactly how the invention of ceramic straighteners within the late Nineties ushered inside a straight hair revolution overnight. Previously, straighteners ended up being steel-plated and took twenty or so minutes to attain a highly effective temperature, however the new material took under 1 minute to reach more than 200c.
It’s the latest technology, however, that come up with real damage. Hair is extremely tough, but any heat over 180c will damage the cuticle from the hair – the tough outer protective coating on each strand.
Underneath the microscope, the cuticle appears like overlapping slates or scales. These should lie flat to supply a smooth, protective coating across the ‘cortex’, a twisted bundle of protein fibres which will make up over 80 per cent of the hair and offer it its internal strength and adaptability.
Repeated straightening creates a breakdown inside the cuticle. The ‘slates’ start to lift and also the rough, uneven surface exposes the cortex, allowing the fibres to unravel. This starts as split ends, but could reach entirely within the hair, causing it to interrupt off.
Sallis says that straightener addiction starts when women rely on them regularly in a high heat. He explains: ‘Straighteners are simple to use, so women become reliant on them. But excessive heat and inadequate protection makes hair dry and frizzy.
‘Women control this new “frizz” by straightening your hair a lot more, which dries and damages it further, causing yet more frizzing, which requires more straightening and so on. Surprisingly, my patients often tend not to link the rise in frizz by using straighteners, even if their hair begins to break off.’
He says that for safe straightening, it’s vital to make on the heat. ‘Some straighteners reach over 220c, that is way beyond what hair can withstand. Keep the straighteners below 180c,’ he warns.
Also, he cautions that using hair-care products won’t necessarily keep your hair.
‘I have often heard so many times “it can’t be my straighteners, I always use a heat protection on my own hair before I prefer them”. Don’t fall into that trap!’ says Sallis. ‘Heat defence sprays will not be a magic potion. They actually do lessen the damage, however the hair will still be affected if you use straighteners each day.’
Paolo Lai, the ‘Hair Healer’ at celebrity salon Neville Hair and Beauty, is an expert in restoring gloss to frazzled locks. He sees many straightener addicts in the salon and agrees that growing amounts of women are suffering side-effects.
‘Many of my clients, especially those with coloured or highlighted hair, have found it will become brittle and also breaks if straighteners are utilized too frequently,’ he says.
Lai recommends putting your own hair into rehab by taming frizz by having an ultra-nourishing treatment. ‘I recommend Kerastase products including Masque Intense, Forceintense and Elixir Ultime to reconstruct your own hair therefore you don’t want to smooth it so much,’ he says.
‘If you spot frizz, get a trim rather than reaching for that straighteners. As well as prevent more damage, use boar bristle brushes that don’t contain any metal prongs.’
‘The best way to counteract damage is by using a deep conditioner before shampooing,’ he says. ‘Work it in the hair together with the fingertips, in particular the ends, leave it on for 20 minutes approximately then wash it out by using a moisturising shampoo and after-shampoo conditioner. Philip Kingsley Elasticizer or Elasticizer Extreme works wonders.’
Elliot Bassila, Creative Director on the Nicky Clarke salon, recommends switching into a silk pillowcase from silkperfect.com to banish frizz .
‘Sleeping on silk will help prevent split ends while locking within the hair’s natural oils to leave your mane looking luscious.’
In the event you can’t surrender your irons, Lai states that spending much more on your straightener could save your valuable hair.
The straighteners marketplace is now worth £100 million – 56 percent in the total sales of hair appliances
‘Pick one of the top-end hair straighteners, which contains infra-red radiation produced from high-temperature ceramic plates or ones coated inside the precious stone tourmaline. These may help seal the moisture in your hair,’ he advises.
Hairstylist Jack Howard of Equus hair adds: ‘Only utilize your straighteners on blow-dried hair, and not on wet hair. Avoid exceeding the same area twice. Do not straighten ability to the ideas because this is probably the most fragile area of the hair.’
New smoothing treatments are the Brocato ‘Curl Interrupted’ super gentle treatment using keratin (the protein which is located in hair, skin and nails) which lasts for approximately 12 weeks (from £120 at Equus hair).
Addititionally there is LLT (Long-lasting Treatment) with the inventors in the first permanent Japanese straightening system, Yoko. This cross between a conditioner and Fhi Flat Iron takes just quarter-hour to make use of and possesses collagen and keratin. It leaves hair looking full but groomed and lasts around a month.
Jack Howard at Equus says: ‘With these treatments you can have a sleek look with minimal blow drying that may end your dependence on daily straightening.’
And if you need more encouragement, style gurus claim that the era of flattened hair is finished. The biggest buzz in hair styling gadgets will be the Babyliss Big Hair styler (£40), a variety of brush and hairdryer which gives smooth but volumised hair. The catwalks of London Fashion Week recently were full of bouncy blow-outs and curls.
Top session stylist Stephen Lowe states that one of the most stylish heads will probably be going cold-turkey on the hair irons over the summer.
‘Waves have definitely been tumbling down the catwalk this season. For the best fashionable look, you need to say goodbye to poker-straight hair and instead embrace beautiful healthy hair with movement,’ he adds.