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7 Essential Tips for People Who Use Heat on Their Hair Every Day

Flat iron addict? Get sleek, shiny hair without damage with these tips from pro stylists and dermatologists.

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Use your hand as a gauge

Contrary to popular belief, turning up the heat on your blow dryer doesn’t dry make your hair any faster. Instead, using high heat simply causes even more damage to the hair fiber, says Aly Walansky, a beauty blogger and contributor for latest-hairstyles.com. The perfect heat setting depends on your hair’s thickness, coarseness, and texture. Ideally, make sure the air out of the dryer feels comfortable on the back of your hand. As for curling irons and flat irons, William Yates, MD, a hair loss specialist in Chicago, suggests keeping the heat between 200 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the thickness of your hair. Here are other hair myths you still fall for.

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Protect your hair with silicone

Spritzing your damp hair with a heat protectant before blow drying, straightening, or curling is a no-brainer, but make sure the product you use has the best ingredients for the job. Debra Jaliman, MD, dermatologist and WebMD contributor, suggests looking for a spray made with silicone. “Products with silicone put a protective coating on your hair,” Dr. Jaliman says. You can tell if a product is made with silicone by searching the ingredients list for any words that end in “-cone.” Fernando Salas, creator of White Sands Haircare, specifically suggests looking for dimethicone and phenyl trimethicone to prevent the flattening and fusing of cuticles and to keep your hair soft.

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Keep your distance

Holding your blow dryer directly against your hair can do some serious damage, says George Gonzalez, owner of George the Salon in Chicago. Many people believe this is the only way to blow dry your hair into a straight style, but Gonzalez says pulling the dryer away from the brush and avoiding direct contact with the hair should do the trick. This method will still leave your hair sleek and straight, but you’ll avoid split ends and dryness in the long run. Don’t miss these home remedies for dry and damaged hair.

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Pick good tools

With hundreds of varieties of flat irons, curling irons, and blow dryers on the market, choosing a styling tool can seem a little overwhelming. Fortunately, a few key qualities can narrow your search. According to huffingtonpost.com, hunt for tools with ceramic plates, which distribute the heat most evenly and prevent the least amount of damage. Additionally, Dr. Jaliman says to make sure the tool has an adjustable heat setting, so you can personalize it to your hair type and avoid unnecessary damage.

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Use small sections

Walansky recommends separating your hair into small sections at a time. Each chunk should be just big enough to hold a little bit of tension with your brush. If the sections are too big, your hair will take longer to dry and you may burn the top layer of the hair, Walansky says. Also, start at the roots and work your way down the hair, since the roots naturally tend to be more moisturized than the ends.

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Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize

Dr. Jaliman suggests applying a deep moisturizing serum, such as coconut oil, olive oil, or other store-bought moisturizers, once a week. “You need to hydrate your hair so it doesn’t get dried out from these heat tools,” she says. Each product can affect every type of hair differently, so test out a few to see which suits you best. Or try these natural hair masks you can make at home. But don’t go overboard—using a deep moisturizer more than once a week may leave your hair looking greasy.

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Say bye to your brush

Your hair gets enough damage from your daily dose of heat, so finding ways to promote healthy hair in other parts your beauty routine can make a huge difference, Dr. Jaliman says. A simple way to do this: Switch from a typical bristle brush to a wide-toothed comb to work through wet hair. Additionally, she recommends altering your shower routine to protect your hair, such as using a chemically mild shampoo, applying a lot of conditioner, and squeezing the water out of your hair instead of towel-drying. Here are other shower mistakes that could damage your hair.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest