Is Hot Water Bad for Your Hair? (7 Disastrous Effects)

Jacque NdanuHair CareLeave a Comment

Is hot water bad for your hair?

When it comes to washing hair, one common question people have is whether hot water is bad for the hair or not.

In this article we will answer this question and give the reasons why it may not be a good idea to use hot water on your hair.

Is Hot Water Bad for your hair?

In summary, hot water is bad for your hair because it has damaging effects including a damaged hair structure, scalding of the scalp and hair loss, in extreme cases.

You should aim to use luke-warm water to open up the cuticles and enhance products absorption and cool water to close the cuticle when rinsing off your products.

Why is Hot water bad for your hair?

1. Damaged hair structure

Hot water can cause severe damage to the hair structure.

When hot water comes into contact with the hair shaft, it causes damage to the cuticle which is the outermost layer of hair.

Specifically, heat breaks down keratin, which is the protein component in hair, and lipids, the fat component in hair. [1]

Since keratin holds the hair shaft together, the heat will cause the cuticles to spike up. This differs from the normal healthy state of hair where the cuticle layers are sealed and are laying down.

2. Scalding of the scalp

When the water is extremely hot, it can cause damage to the scalp. This can lead to scalding, redness, and in extreme cases scarring as the water damages the top skin layer.

Since the scalp tissue is damaged, the protective barrier is lost. As a result, it is more likely to develop inflammations and other skin infections.

3. Loss of hair color

Heat damage arising from using hot water can cause loss of hair color.

This is mainly because heat increases the porosity of hair.

The change in porosity occurs because the cuticle is damaged and hence the pores are open. As a result, hair easily absorbs color.

During coloring, the hair absorbs too much color causing a darkened look. Additionally, the high porosity, of the hair causes hair to lose color quickly. This then leads to a faded and lighter appearance on colored hair.

4. Rough and Frizzy hair

Is hot water bad for your hair, why is hot water bad for your hair

Hot water causes damage to the outer layer of hair making it difficult for hair to absorb moisture and needed nutrients. Dry hair is more likely to have a rough texture.

Since hair is dry, it will compensate for this lack of moisture by absorbing moisture from the hair. This then causes frizz in hair.

5. Loss of curl pattern

Hair that is damaged as a result of heat from the hot water will likely have low elasticity since the heat breaks down the cuticle which gives hair its structure.

Curly hair types will most likely notice a change in their curl pattern or the presence of looser curls.

6. Dandruff

Dandruff is one of the visible effects of a scalp experiencing heat damage.

Heat damage usually causes dryness in both the hair and the scalp. A dry scalp is more likely to begin flaking as the skin is dry. This eventually causes a dandruff problem on the scalp.

7. Hair loss

In severe cases, using extremely hot water can cause hair to fall off. This is because the heat causes a change in the structure of pores located in the hair roots.

The pores in hair roots respond to changes in temperature and open up when in contact with hot water. In cold temperatures, they contract and lock up. An opened pore makes it easier to loosen the grip between the hair root and the shaft. As a result, hair is likely to fall off.

Additionally, scalp damage arising from hot water makes it difficult for the scalp to absorb nutrients. Since the hair lacks the necessary nutrients, hair loss is more likely to occur.

Should You Wash Hair with Warm or Cold Water?

When washing hair, cool or warm water works best. Warm water helps hair to retain its moisture since it does not strip away the hair’s natural oils.

It also improves blood circulation by opening up the blood capillaries in the scalp ensuring free flow of blood and nutrients to the hair and scalp.

Hairstylists advise using warm water to clean hair and scalp of build-up and cool water for the final rinse to open up the blood capillaries and lock the hair pores for moisture retention.

As for the water temperature, they recommend temperatures of 100F (38C) and slightly lower temperatures for the warmer months.

Always check your water to ensure it’s the right temperature for your hair. One great tip is to test with your elbow and note for any hot or cold sensations. If the water temperature does not feel either hot or cold then it is the right temperature for your hair.

In case you are using your shower and you notice the water is getting hotter, turn it off to prevent any damage to your hair. Then check the heat settings to adjust to the desired temperature.

How To Fix Damage from Hot Water

1. Protein treatment

A protein treatment work great to repair hair damaged by heat, harmful chemicals, and excessive manipulation.

Such a treatment work by attaching protein components to the hair strands making them stronger. This is especially helpful for straighter hair where heat damage is more visible.

Heat damage breaks the cuticle which is the outer layer of hair. Protein treatments work by attaching protein treatments to hair to fill up the cracks and gaps arising from heat damage.

Additionally, the treatment will create a barrier in hair which prevents any further hair damage.

As a result, hair is restored and fortified to prevent it from further damage. In case you are looking for some good protein treatments, here are some good ones to consider. [7]

2. Deep conditioning

Deep conditioning infuses the hair which much-needed nutrients to solve a variety of issues.

For heat damage, you want to consider hydrating deep conditioning treatments. This is especially helpful for curly hair types as heat damage is likely to cause tangles, frizz, and a change in texture.

Make sure to look out for hydrating ingredients when shopping for deep conditioning treatments. Some great ones include Shea butter, Aloe Vera, argan, coconut, and avocado oil.

3. Moisturize regularly

Heat-damaged hair is likely to be dry, brittle, and prone to tangling.

Moisturizing regularly is one of the best ways to treat heat damaged hair. Ensure your shampoo or cleansing product is hydrating and does not strip the hair of much-needed moisture.

The next step is to incorporate leave-in or deep conditioning treatments that add moisture to the hair. It is recommended to deep condition twice a week for heat-damaged hair.

Finally, remember to moisturize hair daily or every other day with water and oil-based moisturizer to seal in the moisture.

4. Eat food rich in wound healing properties

Consuming a healthy nourishing diet nourishes your body from the inside out providing your skin, hair, and other body parts with helpful nutrients.

With heat damage, the hair could benefit from strengthening (protein) and moisturizing nutrients.

Consider, therefore, including protein-rich foods, healthy fats, and vegetables for helpful vitamins and anti-oxidants. Some great options include avocado, nuts, meat, eggs, dairy, dark green veggies, citrus fruits, and fish.

5. Practice low manipulation

It is wise to give your scalp a break after the damage it has experienced to allow it to heal. One way to do this is by opting for low-manipulation hairstyles.

These reduce the tension felt on both hair and scalp providing relief and preventing the scalp from further damage due to manipulation.

Some good low manipulation hairstyles to consider include the wash and go, twists outs, space buns, ponytails, and cornrows.

Alternatively, you may opt for wig lines and rock your wig for a couple of weeks to reduce the constant tugging on your scalp as it heals from the damage.

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