When your hair type leans towards frizzy—of the gravity-defying, ceiling-grazing variety—you tend to become friends with heat styling tools from an early age. With time, the scorched fingers from an overzealous round with the hair straightener before every school dance merely become a badge of honor. It comes as little surprise then that my hair iron has been a faithful companion by my side over the past decade, an inseparable accoutrement that has witnessed every momentous milestone. Together, we have waged war on humidity and flyaways, leaving behind a trail of swishy, bouncy hair in our wake.
It was a blissful relationship that would only face its first true crisis on a recent holiday in the coastal town of Bekal, Kerala. While the backwaters offered a leisurely reprieve from everyday life, the humidity frowned upon my need for a put-together hairdo. When faced with incompatible electric sockets at our holiday villa, I was faced with an inescapable truth: for the first time in a decade, I was left without a heat styling tool to give me the hair of my dreams.
With no option but to embrace my natural texture, I set out for the night, but the meticulously planned dinner outfits felt bland when they couldn’t be paired with an elevated hairstyle. The first night was spent wincing at my flyaways every time I caught sight of my reflection in the water and ruining many memorable portraits by the poolside with my compulsive need to fret over and tug every errant strand into submission.
As the weekend rolled by, however, an almost miraculous feeling of relief descended upon the holiday. Freed from the need to be glued by the hair iron for half an hour before heading out, my getting-ready routine felt tangibly lighter. With liberal amounts of leave-in creams and nifty braided hairdos, I managed to tame the worst of the frizz. And if I felt happy, it was nothing compared to my parched strands that were suddenly allowed to breathe freely again. Liberated from my dependency on heated styling tools after returning from the holiday, I found myself rewarded with fewer split-ends, healthier tresses and a fuller hairline.
My findings are further verified by Dr Sravya C Tipirneni, consultant trichologist at Manipal Hospitals in Bengaluru. “When you stop using heated styling tools for a few weeks, you may notice a difference in your hair’s health and appearance. The hair will typically become softer, smoother and shinier. Split ends may also start to mend and hair breakage may decrease consequently,” she advises.
However, she intones that it can take several months for the hair to fully recover from heat damage as this period is needed to produce new, healthy growth. “Ultimately, treating heat-damaged hair has to go hand-in-hand with prevention. Using hydrating hair masks and sulphate-free shampoos alongside preventive measures can give your hair the best possible chance at repair and revival,” she concludes.
Originally published in Vogue.in