Expert Advice: How NOT To Burn Your Hair Off with a Curling Iron

Expert Advice: How NOT To Burn Your Hair Off with a Curling Iron
(Photo via YouTube)

Anyone still having nightmares about the beauty vlogger who straight up burned her hair off?

What's most frightening about Tori Locklear's scarring — correction, downright traumatizing — experience, though, is that the teen was horribly misinformed on the proper practices of hair styling, along with the reasons why her mane melted right onto her waving wand. (Initially she chalked the trauma up to the product she used, now she's blaming the curling iron, itself.)

To get to the bottom of the mystery — plus, score a few pointers on healthy hairstyling habits — we enlisted the expert advice of Matrix Artistic Director Nick Stenson. Here's what he had to say. (But, first a video refresher of what NOT to do. Sorry, it's too good not to...)

We'll start with the obvious question on all of our minds. Why did her hair burn off?

Well, there were a number of contributing factors here. First, Locklear's a blonde. "Natural blonde hair is much more fragile than other textures," said Stenson. "And if she also dyes it, over-processing can lead to weaker, more damaged hair."

Secondly, if hair is already damaged, spraying it with an alcohol-based spray (a main ingredient in Locklear's featured product) before running it over an iron is a recipe for disaster.

"Some people think they need a lot of product, like hair spray, but when the alcohol in the hair mixes with the heat, it can actually break the hair," he explained. "Spray after you've set your curls. If you're going to spray before that's fine, but spray from 12" away so its not excessive."

Expert Advice: How NOT To Burn Your Hair Off with a Curling Iron

What kind of products should you use then to prevent heat damage and, uh, burning your locks off?

One of Locklear's biggest blunders was that she used leave-in hair conditioner, which should be used on towel-dried hair, instead of a thermal protectant spray or serum — formulas that are made specifically to coat dry hair and seal in cuticles, protecting locks from harsh heat.

"One of my favorites is Biolage ExquisiteOil Replenishing Treatment," Stenson said. "For an oil or a serum, just take a couple droplets, rub them in your hand, and smooth them over dry hair before you style. If you prefer a spray, I recommend Matrix's Total Results Sleek Iron Smoother. No matter what, I always use a heat protective agent."

How long is the max amount of time you should keep your curling wand in place, and how hot should the temperature be?

Basically, it depends. Your hair type and texture affect how much heat your hair needs to lock a look in place. In short — thick, curly hair requires more. Thin, fine hair needs less. But never, ever, ever hold for longer than 10 seconds.

"Begin with a low temperature and work your way up, if needed," Stenson advised. "The common thing most people do when using a flat iron or curling iron is they put the heat up as high as it will go. Start at five seconds and test to make sure it's the curl you want. Go up to 10, but 20 was way too long. Go ten seconds max on a low temperature."

Here's to hoping this won't ever happen to you...

Expert Advice: How NOT To Burn Your Hair Off with a Curling Iron