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How should I use heated styling tools so I minimise the damage to my hair?

Curling tongs, flat irons and the hair dryer can damage your locks instead of making them sleek and shiny if you do not use them the correct way.

Stick to these rules.

1. Always use a heat-protection styling product

Just like how you would use a moisturiser and sunscreen on your skin to protect it from the environment, always use a heat-protection haircare product before you apply any styling device to your hair, says Mr Eugene Ong, founder and managing director of Urbanhair salon at Seviin at Tangs. This reduces the damage caused by a heated gadget.

Brands that offer such products include Aveda, Kerastase, Redken and Toni & Guy Hair Meet Wardrobe.

2. Make sure your hair is dry

Never use heated tools that come into direct contact with your tresses, such as curling tongs and flat irons, on wet hair.

Mr Robert Resnick, the Asia education manager of British hairstyling tool brand GHD, says: "The hair has to be 100 per cent dry when you use a styler. When you use a heated tool on wet or damp hair, it damages the hair cuticles."

So even when you apply a heat-protection mist on your tresses before styling, make sure the product has dried before using the heated tools, he adds.

3. Go slow

"Most women style their hair in a rush and assume that when they glide a hot styling tool through their hair quickly, they are more efficient," says Mr Resnick.

"But that's a myth because when you use the tool quickly and run it through the hair multiple times, the hair will be damaged."

He suggests running the tool through the length of each section of hair only once. But keep the tool moving along the hair shaft for at least five to 10 seconds, depending on how long your locks are.

"Slowly work the styler down from your roots. Do it once but well and smoothen the cuticles at one go. This will help your hairstyle last longer too."

4. Check the temperature

Use heated tools at a setting suitable for your hair, says Mr Ong.

If you have healthy hair, you can turn the dial up to between 150 and 220 deg C.

But if your hair is damaged or chemically treated, keep the setting between 120 and 150 deg C.

"Even at a lower temperature setting, the tool can still change the shape of such hair types because their bonds have been altered. And you don't have to risk further damaging it."

5. Pick tools that are gentler on the hair

Look for styling tools that are designed to be gentler on the hair. GHD - available at selected salons - has products that use less heat. Philips also stocks hair dryers that do not overheat hair so it is not stripped of moisture. Tuft - stocked at selected department stores - is another brand that sells styling gadgets with negative ion technology that claims to keep hair shiny and healthy.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 10, 2015, with the headline '(No headline) - GCASK10'. Print Edition | Subscribe