When you get out of the shower with your hair dripping wet, what’s the first thing you do? If the answer is “reach for my hair dryer,” you’re not alone — but you might want to reconsider. Heat can seriously damage your hair; and as you age, that damage can compound and become worse. Before you panic, just know that you won’t have to give up the hair styles you love entirely… because it’s possible to recreate them sans dryer! There are several easy, heatless hairstyles you can do for strong and healthy hair. So, if you’re interested in reducing overall damage, keep reading for some tips on getting your locks the way you want them without heat.
How does hair change as we age?
Just like any other part of your body, hair undergoes changes as we age. Everyone’s hair is different, so these transitions might not be the same for everyone — but here are three of the key shifts to look out for:
Hair loss: As we age, natural fluctuations in hormones like estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone, especially during menopause, can cause us to lose hair, according to hair and scalp professional Dr. Bridgette Hill for InStyle.
Hair thickness: A single strand of hair has a typical lifespan of two to seven years, says MedLinePlus. When it falls out, a new hair usually grows in its place. But as we age, the rate of hair growth slows, and the hairs that do grow in are finer and thinner than before.
Hair texture: Not only does our hair grow thinner and finer — its texture changes as well. As we grow older, our scalps produce less natural oils that keep hair moisturized, which results in coarser, frizzier hair.
How does heat damage hair?
Natural changes in our hair as we get older are inevitable and outside of our control. What we can control, however, are certain measures that can mitigate further damage. One of those measures is limiting the use of heat styling on our hair. Heat, even from excessive sun exposure, can weaken hair on a molecular level, causing breakage and permanent harm. Hair website Hairstyle Camp shares some symptoms of heat damage:
- Split ends
- Loss of natural texture
- Loss of elasticity
When our hair is already undergoing some of these changes due to aging, it’s best not to make them even worse with excessive heat styling.
How can I style my hair without heat?
There’s a reason heat styling is popular: it’s fast, easy, and effective. There are admittedly times when no other substitute will do; but in the day-to-day, it’s a good idea to switch it up and give your hair a break from the heat. Below, find some clever methods for safe, heatless hairstyles.
If You Want It Straighter
The beauty pros at Oprah Daily recommend a few different methods for straightening your hair without heat:
- The overnight method: Brush through wet hair and put it up by wrapping it around your head, using bobby pins to secure it, and covering it with a silk scarf. When you wake up, your hair will be smoother and straighter.
- The milk method (yes, seriously): This method works best for wavy hair. Evenly distribute coconut milk through your hair and leave it in for 10 minutes. After rinsing it out, let hair air-dry.
- The roller method: This sounds counterintuitive, but it should work for curlier hair. When your hair is damp, apply a detangling spray or mousse, then put rollers in, placing the big rollers at the crown of your head. Hair should be completely dry before removing rollers.
If You Want It Curly
If your hair is already straight, it’s fun to add some bounce. Put your curling iron away and check out these heat-free tips from the pros at the Ogle Beauty School for achieving cute coils:
- The headband method: For loose waves overnight, put on a stretchy elastic headband and loop your damp hair around it. When you wake up, gently loosen hair from the headband and finger-comb it to separate curls.
- The halo method: For tighter curls, make a “halo” by twisting a soft T-shirt into a rope and tying the ends together with a hair tie. Put it on your head, and starting from the front, pull up sections of your damp hair, winding them around the halo. Remove halo when hair is completely dry.
- The toilet paper method (again, yes, seriously): Because this one is time-consuming, it may work best for thinner, shorter hair. Take small sections of your hair and roll them up in pieces of toilet paper (you can also use baby wipes or even pipe cleaners ), tying them off when you reach desired curl height. If you’re having trouble visualizing this one (and we don’t blame you), check out the video below from beauty influencer Nicole Skyes,
How can I protect my hair if I can’t avoid heat?
You can’t always avoid heat styling. When nothing but your blow dryer will do, there are some measures you can take to protect your hair while heat styling. Try spritzing on a thermal protection spray before you blow dry, like this highly rated one from CHI (Buy from Amazon, $11.29). The experts at All Things Hair recommend towel drying before you blow dry (to cut down on the amount of time your hair is exposed to heat), and also investing in quality heat styling tools with adjustable temperatures and nozzles to distribute heat more evenly.
Our hair will continue to change — but as long as you take good care of yours, it’s very possible to keep your locks luscious for the rest of your life.
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