By Lauren Basra

Growing up with very curly and thick hair, I have always struggled with straight-hair envy. The luscious flowing locks on every L’Oréal or Pantene shampoo advert made me wish my unruly curls were straight. When I was old enough, I asked to get it straightened at the salon. 

It has taken some self-love to truly love and accept my curls in all their abundance and bounciness. Their natural state is their most beautiful, but I’ve fallen victim to colouring, straightening, and potions that claim to calm the frizz, all fads that were not good for my hair.

Here I will list the dangers and science behind how these popular trends for hair care can damage your natural hair. 

Perming (For Curls) And Straightening (For Well … You Know)

Perming or straightening hair means applying extreme heat to alter its natural shape. The natural curl is pulled straight and seared between hot irons. Or flat hair is twisted and soaked in chemicals to add texture and curl. Both techniques alter the natural state of the hair and can be very damaging to the long-term health of your hair and scalp. 

A harsh chemical solution containing acid is used to break the strong disulfide cysteine bond to make the hair more permeable, i.e. easy to manipulate into a new style! This solution breaks the natural bonds in the hair’s keratin structure. 

Yes that’s right! The same Keratin that is in every hair vitamin and miracle restorative shampoo. The best way to protect your hair is to avoid harsh chemicals or extreme heat, like rollers and embrace your waves, curls or poker-straight hair. 

But this can be a bit boring for us fashionistas (or wannabes!) and isn’t always the option we want. Sometimes after a bad breakup, a new hairstyle is prescribed. So the best way to protect your hair from damage is to use heat protectors and get your perms from a professional and sparingly to keep your hair healthy.

Trying That Bold New Shade Or Keeping Those Greys Away

Everyone loves to try something new or to keep holding on to their perfect familiar look, but over-dyeing and colouring hair can cause cumulative damage that is only noticeable once it’s too late. 

Pantene Uk states, “When refreshing your colour, try to only colour the newly grown roots that have never been coloured before. This way, you’ll minimise the build-up of damage to the rest of your hair”.  

Ways to keep your colour vibrant for longer include using colour restore shampoos or hair masks that return the moisture to your hair lost when the dye is applied. 

Over-colouring using permanent chemical dyes can damage the hair cuticle and also produce an auto-immune reaction leading to alopecia or a skin condition called dermatitis. 

One way to offset the production of chemicals that can damage the environment and the packaging that is also hard to recycle is using natural dyes like Henna or Indigo. They are a great way to colour your hair for a subtle change instead of using harsh man-made dyes. 

Those Instagram Hairstyles That Are Too Good To Be True

When choosing a hairstyle, consideration of your hair type and the condition of both your hair and scalp should always come before wanting to fit in with the latest viral hair trend. 

Roughly forcing your hair into the latest style or twisting it into the tightest and most intricate braids can seriously damage your scalp and can break and tear apart the hair shaft. 

Pulling the hair back into a tight ponytail/braid or sewing in a heavy weave can cause traction alopecia and affect the permanent health of your scalp. In some cases, it can even result in male/female pattern baldness. Let your hair breathe and embrace all its natural quirks and issues. Being natural is the best protection against damage to your hair. 

Masks, Mousses, Magic Serums And Sprays For All Your Hair Worries

Those miracle potions and serums that claim to alter your hair or hold your style perfect all day are not as harmless as you think. These styling products all use chemicals to achieve the effect that they advertise. Depending on the desired effect, the chemicals seep into the hair cuticle and lift or alter it. They can change the texture, the colour or the shape, and all use chemicals no matter how “chemical free “they advertise themselves to be. 

Trying out a new hairstyle is fun and part of changing and exploring your own style, but making sure you don’t go overboard and cause irreparable damage is essential. While hair grows back, it doesn’t always come back beautiful. And hair is most beautiful when loved in its natural and most healthy form! 

Happy Healthy styling!