Washington, July 31 : Your favourite celeb's pin-straight hairstyle might be looking fabulous on you, but if a group of researchers are to be believed, the flat irons - used for straightening hair - can damage hair and cause hair breakage.
At the American Academy of Dermatology's Summer Academy Meeting 2008 in Chicago, dermatologist Paradi Mirmirani, MD, FAAD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology, University of California, San Francisco, presented evidence that when ceramic flat irons are used improperly or too frequently, hair breakage can occur.
"The newer flat irons that have a ceramic coating instead of a metal one are marketed as providing more rapid and uniform heat transmission. While this allows for quicker straightening of the hair with less damage, it is really a classic case of buyer beware," said Dr. Mirmirani.
"We're seeing that when these ceramic flat irons are used at the highest heat settings and on a daily basis to achieve straight hair, they can really take a toll on the structure of the hair and cause very noticeable problems that can be hard to repair," Dr. Mirmirani added.
Temporary hair straightening using a flat iron is achieved by applying heated tongs to the length of the hair. This heat breaks and then reforms the hydrogen bonds in the inner core of the hair fiber.
Dr. Mirmirani noted that while the goal of straightening is to alter the inner substance of the hair, the unwanted consequence may be damage to the outer protective cuticle, causing weathering, damage and eventual hair breakage.
Hair weathering or damage is usually characterized by dry ends or flyaway hair. However, if breakage occurs, it can happen anywhere along the length of the hair and cause a shaggy or skimpy appearance to the hair.
When this occurs, flat iron users may use the device even more frequently to try to tame the broken or uneven appearance of their hair - which can lead to more damage.