Most people don’t realize that heat can damage all hair, no matter what color it is. On gray though, you can actually see the damage caused by heat. It can turn the hair anywhere from a pale yellow to a dark burnt orange-brown. Gray Hair is more prone to heat damage, as its porous and don’t have its own color. Chances of showing the damage from heat is more than pigmented or colored hair. It doesn’t mean you have to give up styling though, you just have to be a little more careful with your hair.

There are four main types of heat damage.

  • Gradual drying out with repeated heat use by zapping the lipids, proteins, and moisture out of the hair.
  • Physically burning the hair with the heat being excessively high.
  • Weak or fine hair, which is not healthy or strong enough to handle the heat.
  • Product build-up burnt onto the hair, which can tinge the gray with yellow as the products change color with the heat and time.

Is Heat Damage Permanent?

Burnt, singed, hair discoloration cannot be removed. In addition, if the hair has yellowed over time with continual damage, this will also be permanent and can only be grown off or toned.

What Temperature Should You Be Using?

  • 365°F is generally the sweet spot for perfect results, but be sure to use tools that have a temperature control so you can adjust it lower or higher if you need to.
  • At 374°F, your hair begins discoloring.
  • At 420°F, the keratin in your hair breaks down, essentially melting.

How To Prevent Heat Damage:

  • The first step in keeping the color tones true are with your shampoo and conditioner choice. Look for silver enhancing products. They deposit a slight violet tint to neutralize the yellow tones.
  • It is also important to keep a good heat protectant on hand. They’re designed to be the first line of defense against any heat before your natural oils and moisture.
  • Remove as much moisture as possible before drying and styling. Try using a microfiber towel or air drying until hair is 5-% – 70% dry.
  • Make sure you use tools with temperature control and start with the lowest heat setting then adjust as needed.
  • When using a blow dryer, keep it at least six inches from the hair and keep it moving.
  • Flat irons or straighteners made from high quality materials like titanium, ceramic and tourmaline are good for gray hair as they can serve hair shafts better by even distribution of heat.
  • Make as few passes with the heat as possible.