How Hot Is Too Hot For Your Hair Tools? Here's What To Know

All too many of us have been guilty of turning our hot, hot hair tools up to the highest heat setting. It just seems logical to go all out to get our hair curled, dried, straight, or any other look we're going for as fast as possible, right? Well, not exactly. There are most definitely temperatures that are far too hot for our locks to handle — particularly on a regular basis — and all that intense heat can cause serious damage. But, how hot is too hot?

There are some mixed opinions when it comes to exactly how hot your tools should be, but GHD's chief technology officer, Dr. Tim Moore, recommended to StyleCaster that, in general, the optimum temperature should be around 365 degrees Fahrenheit. That's 35 degrees hotter than many heat tools actually go up to (though some can get even hotter). So, if you've turned a high-heat tool all the way up to the max, you've probably already gone too hot. Dr. Moore recommended 365 degrees because that will stop you from burning your hair's fat lipids off (these are integral for keeping your hair healthy). The reason you don't want to go to the max of most heat tools? "Think about it: Hair, like paper, begins to melt at about 451 degrees. There's no reason to get near that number, no matter what style you're trying to create," hairstylist Philip B pointed out to Beautylish. But your exact temperature depends on a few factors.

Different hair types are better suited to different temperatures

While there's plenty of general information for how hot your hair tools should be, the right heat for you may actually be dependent on a few factors. After all, as Jade Simmons, director of brand and product marketing at T3, put it to Forbes, "Using the right temperature setting based on your unique hair profile is the key to achieving the best styling results while minimizing damage."

If you have fine hair or hair that's been damaged (potentially from using too-hot tools in the past), it's recommended you go somewhere between 180 and 370 degrees. If you consider your hair to be a standard thickness and in healthy condition, you could try a tool that's set to between 375 and 395 degrees. As for those with gorgeous thick hair, you could need a little more heat on your locks. That could mean going upwards of 400 degrees to get your desired look. Although, it's not recommended you go this high regularly, as it can cause serious hair damage. 

But because hair can be so different from person to person and has so many differing factors (for example, you could have thick hair that's also damaged) finding how hot is too hot for you could take a little trial and error. To stay on the safe side, though, always go a little cooler than you think you need, then slowly creep that number up until you find your optimal number.

The heat tool you're using may determine the right temperature, too

No matter your hair type, you may find that what constitutes something as "too hot" for your hair is more dependent on what look you're actually trying to achieve. If you're curling your hair using a curling wand, curling iron, or something similar, 350 degrees is the highest you should go. This is still hot enough to allow your locks to curl, but not cool enough that you won't see results. Any hotter, and, as Davines educator Aleasha Rivers told Real Simple, it could be bad news. "This could cause the hair to shut its cuticle and therefore flatten itself, unable to hold a bend," she explained. As for when you're using a flat iron, Philip B recommended to Beautylish always staying under 400 degrees. "As soon as you go above the 400-degree level you're really playing Russian roulette," he said.

When blow-drying, if your hair has a temperature gauge on it, Philip B shared you ideally want to stay within the 80 to 100 degrees range. If your tool doesn't have a gauge that allows you to see the exact number, that will likely be the medium setting on most blow-dryers. "The key with blow-dryers is to get one that combines heat with a powerful fan speed, so you can dry your hair quickly. Dryers with high heat and low fan speeds end up baking your hair and lead to breakage and split ends," he shared.

How often you put heat on your hair will also determine how hot you can go

Of course, almost anything in moderation is okay for us. And that can, to an extent, include hot tools. Though you should always try to use the lowest heat setting you can to ensure your hair stays in the best condition, those putting heat on their hair every day will want to go for a lower temperature than someone who uses a heat tool once a week or less. Not only that, but how long you intend to leave the heat on your hair can play a part. "If you're just running the curling iron through your hair quickly to give it some wave and tame trouble ends, you can go with a higher heat limit: 350 to 360 degrees," Philip B told Beautylish. "If you're creating a more structured, retro look and need to hold your hair in the iron for more than a few seconds, go with a lower temp, 275 to 300 degrees."

But regardless of what temperature you use or how often you're doing it, you should always load up on the heat protectant so you're not frying your hair with hot tools. "I like to think of heat-protecting sprays like sunscreen for your hair cuticle," celebrity hairstylist Sunnie Brook explained to Marie Claire. "They create a protective barrier between your strands and heat tools, while locking in moisture and slowing down the penetration of the heat."