What is the deal with those wet/dry hair straighteners? I’ve always heard that using a normal flat iron on wet hair is just *awful* for your hair. These things not only claim to *not* damage your hair, they say their irons actually make your hair BETTER.
One reviewer even said: “I was surprised at the sizzling noise – which sounded like cooking sausages as it was applied to wet hair, but then I read that the noise was sealing the moisture in the hair.”
As if that’s not bad enough, some sites even use high-magnification pictures of hair to show how their irons are ‘better’: for example this picture.
Well Brains, what say thee?
The Right Brain responds:
Thanks for posting one of the most well researched question we’ve seen yet, Kara! Maybe you should start your own beauty blog!
But on to your answer…
Heat is bad for your hair
Applying heat to your hair is bad. It’s bad because it’s damaging to the hair’s protein infrastructure. It’s bad because it disturbs the natural hair “cement” that holds the cuticles in place. It’s bad because it hastens the evaporation of precious moisture from the hair shaft. It’s bad because…well, you get the picture.
Asking if the wet/dry straightening iron is less damaging to your hair than a regular straightening iron is sort of like asking if getting shot with a 22 caliber bullet is better than getting shot with a 44 Magnum. Maybe the hole is a little smaller, but you’re still DEAD!
The website you cited makes some pretty strong claims:
Tourmaline, a precious stone, generates up to 6 times more negative ions upon heating than traditional ceramic irons. The extra negative ions along with gentle far-infrared heat guarantee soft, smooth, frizz-free silky straight hair without heat damage.
New Age nonsense
We haven’t seen any evidence that these “new age” mineral irons are any better or worse than the standard metallic ones. Now, it is true that a high quality iron can be better than a cheap one. But as long as the iron you use is in good condition (so it doesn’t snag the hair) and as long as it provides uniform heat (so you don’t get hot spots) it doesn’t make much difference if it contains “ions” or not.
By the way, we love the explanation that the sizzling noise really “sealing the moisture in the hair.” Hoo Boy! Sizzling noises, like sirens, are rarely a good thing. In this case, you’re hearing the water turning to steam and escaping from the hair. And that’s not good!
Is a picture worth 1000 words?
But what about the hair pictures? Well, it’s hard to tell from these images but it looks like the hair treated with the “regular” iron has significant cuticle uplifting. The hair treated with the “magic” iron is much smoother looking. So the the magic iron is better, right? Well, not so fast. What about that that cloudy area along the top of the hair shaft? Maybe that’s just an artifact of the digital image conversion. But it could also be ablasion – a condition that occurs when heat and pressure fuse the plates of the cuticle. That means the hair is actually weakened. In any case, evaluating electron micrographs of hair is a complex process. We really can’t tell what’s going on from the pictures posted on this website. The Brains could run that test for you – but trust us – you couldn’t afford it!
The Beauty Brain’s Bottom line:
If your friends tell you they bought one of these irons and they really like it then, by all means, go ahead and buy one for yourself. But DON’T buy one just because the manufacturer shows you these pictures and promises to deliver “6 times more negative ions.” Okay?