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Is it Bad to Straighten Wet Hair: The Opinion of The Experts

Brushing hair. Portrait of young woman brushing straight natural hair with comb.

You’ve finished your shower, and you’re getting ready to style your hair. Straightening it can give you sleek, smooth locks that look salon-worthy. You know that if you straighten it while it’s still wet, it will last longer. Is this bad for your hair? Or are you doing more harm than good by straightening your damp hair? 

2Hair loss is the most common problem, which depends on several factors, such as hormonal disorders, skin conditions, and improper care and styling. But there are ways to solve this problem, and the Heliotherapy Institute can help you. There is a lot of research on phototherapy machines here to treat baldness and several skin disorders. Also, you may learn much helpful information about skin and body care and the benefits of light therapy on overall health.

The experts have different opinions on this matter, so let’s take a closer look at what they say. We will explore their views on whether or not it is bad to straighten wet hair. Stay tuned for some useful tips!

Anatomy of wet and dry hair

Black hairbrush comb straight red hair on white
Black hairbrush comb straight red hair on white

When you step out of the shower, your hair covers in water. Each strand of hair consists of three layers: the cuticle, the cortex, and the medulla. 

  • The cuticle is the outermost layer, special for overlapping scales that protect the hair’s hair’s inner structure. 
  • The cortex is the middle layer, where most strength and elasticity come from. 
  • And finally, there’s the medulla, which is the innermost layer and consists mostly of air.

Water can penetrate all three layers of wet hair, but it is harder to do for dry locks. That’s because when your hair is dry, your cuticle scales are tightly compacted together, making it difficult for water to get inside.

What about straightening your hair? When you use a flat iron on wet hair, the water inside each strand becomes steam. So hot that it can damage it. 

Wet hair is more susceptible to damage from heat styling than dry hair. Because it is more elastic and therefore more likely to break when exposed to high temperatures, it takes longer to style. You are more likely to use higher temperatures for longer, increasing the risk of damage.

Experts about straightening wet hair

A young woman visited a hairdresser. New hair color. Straight, silky long hair
A young woman visited a hairdresser. New hair color. Straight, silky long hair

We asked some experts about whether it’s okay to straighten wet hair, and there are two types of opinions: 

  • According to some experts, straightening wet hair is perfectly safe if you use the right products and tools. 
  • However, others believe that straightening damp hair can damage it because the heat can cause the water inside the shafts to expand and break the bonds. 

Let’s come closer to what exactly experts say:

Dr. Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, a trichologist at Philip Kingsley in New York City, says that straightening damp hair can cause long-term damage. “When you use hot styling tools on wet hair, the water inside the strands vaporizes, which causes the outer layer of the hair (the cuticle) to lift. That’s why it’s easier for them to become dry and damaged.”

Stylist Mark Townsend says he doesn’t recommend straightening wet hair because it’s “more vulnerable to heat damage when it’s wet.” He adds that straightening damp hair can lead to frizz and split ends.

Dr. Jennifer Lee, the dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, said that “wet hair is more fragile than dry and is more likely to break when exposed to high heat from styling tools.” She recommends using a leave-in conditioner and heat-protectant spray before blow drying or straightening wet hair.

Stylist Kylee Heath says that she generally doesn’t recommend straightening wet hair, but she admits that she sometimes does it herself if she’s in a hurry. “I wouldn’t do it every day because you are essentially cooking your hair, but every once in a while is probably okay,” she says.

Dr. Jose Mier, the expert and founder of Heliotherapy Institute, doesn’t recommend using any straightening tools on wet hair as it causes a serious problem called “Bubble hair.” “Bubbly hair is an acquired deformation of the hair shaft characterized by bubbly areas in the hair shaft and corresponding cavity defects visible under light microscopy. It occurs due to thermal trauma caused to hair by blow-drying, heating tongs, or hot curling. The hair appears dry, wiry, with pitting hair loss due to excessive breakage.”

Celebrity hairstylist Michael Dueñas, who has styled the likes of Sofia Vergara and Kerry Washington, said he “would not recommend straightening wet hair because you are essentially cooking the water in your hair which can lead to dryness and breakage.” He recommends blow drying hair until it’s about 80% dry before using a flat iron.

Dr. Alan Bauman, a board-certified dermatologist and hair restoration physician, believes that straightening wet hair is not necessarily bad for your hair. However, he does caution against using very hot tools on wet strands. “If you’re going to use a flat iron on wet hair, make sure it’s not super-hot. Also, try not to do it every day.”

Many experts have given their opinion about straightening wet hair. So, what is the truth? The answer is more “no” than “yes.” It is better not to straighten your damp hair, but if necessary, make sure to use proper tools and haircare.

How to style your hair without damage

When it comes to hair, there are a lot of old wives’ tales out there. You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t brush your hair when wet or never goes to bed with damp hair. But as we’ve asked experts about straightening wet hair, we also didn’t forget to figure out tips on how to style it without damage. So check them out below.

Use a microfiber towel.

To straighten your hair, you must use a microfiber towel to avoid damaging your strands. Rubbing it with a regular towel can cause friction, which leads to frizz. Instead, microfiber ones are gentle on the hair and help to absorb water without causing all these problems. 

Don’t pass the conditioner

If you’re going to straighten your hair, you must ensure it’s properly hydrated first. That means using a conditioner every time you shampoo and maybe even a leave-in conditioner if it is particularly dry. Skipping the conditioner will only make your hair more susceptible to damage from the heat.

Use heat-protectants for hair

If you use any heat on your hair, whether it’s to straighten it or curl it, you should always use a heat-protectant. It will help minimize the damage that it can cause. There are various options on the market, so you should find one that works well for your hair type.

Applying a heat-protectant is relatively simple. Spray it on your damp hair before using any heated styling tool. You can also find products with built-in heat-protectants. These are especially convenient if you’re in a hurry.

Once you’ve applied it, you can use your straightening iron or curling wand. Just be sure to use the lowest setting possible to avoid damaging your hair. And always make sure that it is completely dry before using any heat.

Blow-dry hair with cool air

Blowing your hair with cool air is much better because you don’t damage them during hot drying. Here is a small instruction on how to do this:

  • Start by towel-drying to remove as much water as possible. 
  • Then, use a blow-dryer on the cool setting to finish drying it. 
  • If you have thin or fine hair, hold the blow-dryer about six inches away from your head. 
  • You can keep the blow-dryer closer to your head for thicker or coarser hair. Move it around constantly to avoid damaging your hair with too much heat in one spot. 
  • And if you have thick or curly hair, you may want to use a diffuser attachment to help evenly distribute the heat.
  • If you’re going to straighten it, ensure your hair is completely dry first. Even if you’re in a rush, it’s worth taking the extra time to blow-dry it with cool air before using a straightening iron. 
  • When straightening hair, use low heat settings and move the iron slowly through your strands. It will help to prevent breakage and split ends. 
  • If you have very fine or damaged hair, it’s best to avoid straightening wet hair altogether.

Use dry shampoo

If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to wash it, you can use a dry shampoo. It will help absorb dirt from it and make it easier to style. Just be sure to apply the dry shampoo evenly and brush it out well before you start straightening.


So, there you have it! The experts’ opinion on whether it’s bad to straighten wet hair. And now you know that it is not the best idea if you want to keep your locks healthy and strong. But if you still decide to straighten it use caution to avoid damage, and be sure to use a heat protectant before styling. Keep in mind experts’ opinions and tips for having healthy and beautiful hair.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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