High heat unhealthy for the hair

Divy Bose | The Chronicle

Tame the curls, don’t get rid of them.

Mason High School junior Finley Bierma is a student who learned the hard way. Bierma wanted to straighten her hair. She would spend nearly two hours a night trying to straighten out her curls with a flat heat iron. 

Bierma was self-conscious about her curls. She wanted her hair to look more like her friends’ hair. 

“You would think having different hair than all your friends isn’t a big deal, ” Bierma said. “But it is to me, even when all of my friends would tell me to keep my curls I couldn’t bring myself to.”

After trying to straighten her hair since the fifth grade, Bierma got bad news when she went to see a hair stylist to get a haircut.  

“I would go in to get what I thought would just be a trim, but each time they ended up cutting three or more inches off,” Bierma said. “She always told me that my hair was literally dying, but I didn’t listen since the temptation to straighten it and look like every other girl took over.” 

Using a heated iron to straighten curls breaks down the proteins that contribute to healthy and shiny hair. Eventually, the hair dries out and becomes brittle. Repairing damaged hair follicles can take anywhere from a month to a year. 

Ulta Beauty stylist Shelbi Simpson who is studying to become a licensed hair professional has seen hair that is unhealthy and destroyed due to excessive straightening. 

“I remember a woman coming in with hair literally falling out of her scalp,” Simpson said. “I applied every treatment I could until the only solution was to completely shave her head off and start all over.”

Simpson believes it’s wiser to tame the curls rather than get rid of them.

“Having to choose healthy hair over convenience is what a lot of girls struggle with,” Simpson said. “Hair is just like another vital organ in your body that needs nourishment and care, which is what people choose to ignore.”

Senior Sydney Kraus said her natural hair could never cooperate so she was determined to straighten her hair. 

“My hair was always in a poofy mess,” Kraus said. “I always had marks from putting it in a ponytail so much, so I had to turn to straightening which was not any better.” 

Kraus eventually decided to make a decision that was healthier for her hair. She gave up straightening even though there were times when she just wanted to completely give up on her hair. 

“All I wanted to do was chop it off,” Kraus said. “It took two years for it to get healthy again since it was at an all-time low, but I couldn’t be happier with my hair now.”

Some girls will use heat protectants in hopes of saving their hair. According to Simpson, even these products have their drawbacks. 

“Heat protectant is only beneficial when heat is applied to hair occasionally,” Simpson said. 

After wrestling with the decision to straighten or stick with curls, Bierma decided to abandon the heated iron. 

“I decided to go back to my naturally curly hair after all of these years because I saw on Tiktok all these pretty girls with thick beautiful curls,” Bierma said. “After seeing that, I asked my sister to help me rejuvenate my hair so I can have my healthy hair back.”

Not only did this decision help save her hair, but it also helped her save time as well. When she straightened her hair it would take two hours, now instead of using the iron, she puts in oils and treatment that only takes 15 minutes and now she’s wearing her hair naturally for the first time in five years.

“I was so nervous coming into school because I looked like a whole new person in my eyes,” Bierma said. “But my friends all freaked out how good it looked and it built so much confidence in me to be able to put the straightener down.”

Kraus is glad she decided to give up on straightening her hair. At one point she wanted to give up on hair but now she’s happy knowing her hair is healthier. 

“All I wanted to do was chop it off,” Kraus said. “It took two years for it to get healthy again since it was at an all-time low, but I couldn’t be happier with my hair now.”

Illustration by Allison Droege