View Full Version : heat damage strikes again

01-23-2005, 09:52 AM
Paula Begoun known as the cosmetic cop got this letter from this lady. I thought it was interesting for you all to read.

Dear Paula,
I am African-American and have fine hair that is not too coarse. I use no chemical treatments to straighten my hair nor do I have any color (including highlights) on my hair. I mostly go to the salon to get my hair straightened via pressing, which involves applying heat. Since my hair is long and fine, I was desperate to find any product that would make it look thicker (I know there is nothing out there that can actually thicken hair). I found out about this shampoo from Nioxin, which claims that it would stimulate your scalp and thereby help grow thicker hair. It also instructs [you] not to massage but just to put the shampoo on and rinse it off. I assumed this was because it's not a moisturizing shampoo so it could strip hair. But I ignored that fact and had my stylist massage the shampoo on me(and strands of hair on top of my head fell out!

My stylist simply commented that it could be just stress or lack of proper nutrition, and told me that it was not Nioxin because she has used this shampoo on other people and this didn't happen! Now after all these years of growing my hair (that's why no relaxers, no color treatments), I have a patch of broken hair right in the middle of my head that is so short, it looks like it would take five years for it to reach my desired hair length. At this point, I need your recommendations as to how I should care for my fine, thin hair and also how to make it look thicker. Do you think Nioxin did the damage? If so, that’s strange, because it claims "no side effects," and having a patch of hair missing from my scalp is a definite side effect in my book!

Hilina, via email

Dear Hilina,
Stimulating your scalp won’t cause your hair to grow or thicken, and I’m very certain the Nioxin shampoo didn’t cause your hair to fall out either. The ingredients used in their shampoos and conditioners are no different from those in hundreds of other formulations, and the few unique ingredients they throw in aren’t present in concentrations high enough to have the kind of impact you describe. I suspect it was just bad timing and that the hair loss (actually, hair breakage) you and your stylist noticed was a result of the repeated straightening you have done. Although the pressing process does not involve chemicals, it does involve smoothing hair with extremely high heat and tension. It is this combination of heat and tension that creates the smooth, straight effect.

However, as you witnessed, this process is not without risks, especially on fine, fragile hair like yours. Pressing combs typically have a temperature range of 350°F to 500°F, which is intense heat when you consider that water boils at 212°F! The more resistant your hair is to being straightened (as is true for most African-American hair), the more heat (and tension) is needed to achieve results. What can happen when the pressing comb comes in contact with the hair, especially if you leave it in one place for too long, is that the water inside the hair shaft literally boils, which causes the hair to break or rupture in that area, resulting in patches of frayed, broken strands. It also “burns” away the hair shaft’s protective cuticle layer, exposing the fragile cortex (the inner portion of the hair strand) and making it more vulnerable to damage. And this type of repeated damage to hair adds up quickly.

What to do now? If you’re serious about regrowing your hair and making it stronger, you need to straighten your hair less often or reduce the amount of intense heat that is applied to your hair. Perhaps instead of a completely straight hairstyle, a slightly curly look would work for you, one that would call for less styling torture. Consider washing your hair every few days with Neutrogena Triple Moisture Cream Lather Shampoo ($5.99 for 8.45 ounces), and follow with any of the Pantene conditioners for dry hair. For shine without weight or a greasy appearance, consider a light silicone spray and apply sparingly. Queen Helene Shine Spray with Cholesterol ($6.75 for 4 ounces) would be an excellent choice, but remember to apply sparingly.

I also recommend consulting another hairstylist who can show you how to work with and learn to appreciate your hair’s natural texture. Ask him or her to cut off any remaining damage and, if possible, style your hair so that the patchy spots are concealed as you wait for regrowth. As you already know, damaged, broken hair strands take time to grow, so patience and avoiding what caused the breakage in the first place are essential.

01-23-2005, 01:11 PM
Good response.

01-23-2005, 03:10 PM
Nice response

01-23-2005, 04:20 PM
Wow...350-500 degrees? I'm sure glad I don't use those things anymore.

01-23-2005, 05:22 PM
Thanks for posting this. I was just talking to my mom last night about damage caused by pressing her hair. I'm going to share this with her.

01-23-2005, 05:26 PM
Good answer......thanks for sharing this.

01-23-2005, 05:44 PM
Yeah she's on the money with that response, 350-500 degrees, whoa!

01-23-2005, 05:51 PM
i really liked that response. hopefully she'll heed the warning.

01-23-2005, 06:09 PM
Good article. It's funny how people will think of any other explanation under the sun for their hair damage besides their "abnormal" straightening processes. :icon_headshake:

01-23-2005, 07:01 PM
I'll learn my heat lesson from Hilina and take Paula's advice so I won't be writing that same sad letter :(

01-23-2005, 07:09 PM
finally some napp understanding! :)

Moderator W
01-23-2005, 07:25 PM
Alright Paula! Come out...we know you're here!


01-23-2005, 07:47 PM
Paula really knows her stuff. I had no idea that hot combs get that hot. But I did know that you can boil water inside your hair and you can get white beads where the hair ruptured. That is so true. Even flat irons and curling irons are wrecking crews. Melting the scales or cuticle layer of your hair is such a weird, scary thought. I'm glad that it was scientifically on-target advice. I wish more hair advisers would tell the truth and give out some real facts.

01-23-2005, 08:00 PM
Excellent advice.

Back in the day, the only way some of us could have long straight hair was to use THICK hair grease to help protect from the hot combs. The hair grease also made our hair stiff and attracted dirt.

It was a STUPID and DANGEROUS practice.

01-23-2005, 09:02 PM