Effects of thermal treatments with a curling iron on hair fiber

J Cosmet Sci. 2004 Jan-Feb;55(1):13-27.


The effect of curling hair with a curling iron has been investigated. Possibilities of thermal damage with repeated curling according to, and in violation of, the manufacturer's specifications have been studied. The propensity of hair surface to damage depends on the moisture content of the hair, and these experiments have been conducted in both wet and dry conditions, with and without application of tension, and with short or prolonged times. Scanning electron microscopic (SEM) examination revealed that fibers treated under the dry condition (50% RH) show radial and axial cracking along with scale edge fusion. Similar thermal treatment on wet hair resulted in severe damage of the type described above, as well as bubbling and buckling of the cuticle due to the formation and escaping of steam from the fiber. Fibers subjected to repeated curling in the dry condition show slight increases in tensile mechanical properties, characteristic of a crosslinked fiber. Fibers treated with conditioners show an improvement in characteristic life, especially in the case of low-molecular-weight conditioners, such as CETAB, which can penetrate into the hair fiber (shown by TOF-SIMS analysis).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Hair / ultrastructure*
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Surface Properties