Monday, January 24, 2011
Flat Iron DANGER: Breaking Hydrogen bonds
Do you know how flat irons work? According to online research, flat irons emit infrared waves or far infrared waves that penetrate through the hair cuticle in order to temporarily break hydrogen bonds and allow the smooth flat iron plates to reform the hair shape into a straighter look.
Where else have we heard of hydrogen bonds breaking? Oh yes, WATER also breaks hydrogen bonds as well as salt bonds in the hair temporarily, and then as it dries around something like a "magnetic roller," it reforms a new "dry" shape .
Hair is at its weakest state when it is wet because the hydrogen bonds are in a broken state.
So if flat irons are breaking the same hydrogen bonds, then we are temporarily weakening our hair by using them, hoping that we get no breakage and hoping that the infrared heat waves that are affecting the inside of the hair do not damage or erode the actual hair cuticle.
Is it worth the risk? Should we stop using flat irons? That is a personal decision as with any hot tool or chemical. All types of heat and chemicals can temporarily or permanently weaken the hair. However, frequency of potentially damaging procedures should always be kept at a mininum.
Most thermal protectants have some keratin support in them to assist the hair in strength since hair consists of keratin as well.
However, flat ironing everyday is like "tanning" everyday. It is not healthy. The infrared heat from the sun can be dangerous to our skin if overexposed. Therefore, overexposure to the infrared heat from flat irons can damage the hair cuticle eventually opening the hair strands up for breakage.
Now, can you imagine "flat ironing" damp hair? That is very intense "internal" heat as it dries the external hair shaft. Is the steam beneficial at this point? Probably more beneficial to coarse, natural hair, but probably less beneficial to relaxed or color treated hair.
Consider returning back to the curling iron at home or going to the salon for the traditional marcel curling irons. These irons use direct heat instead of infrared heat. Curls and body hold longer possibly because hydrogen and salt bonds are temporarily broken versus just the hydrogen bonds. Please see my separate article to come.