Do Hair Dryers Cause Split Ends? (Explained)

While hair dryers are so handy for drying your hair quickly and in the style you want, using them in excess can cause problems. If you turn the heat or speed up too high, you can damage your hair and cause split ends. 

Here’s Why Hair Dryers Can Cause Split Ends:

Hair dryers can cause split ends because high heat can damage the hair’s protective outer cuticle layer. Without this external protection, the inner layers of your hair will be exposed. When they come into contact with heat, they can dry out, become brittle, and separate into split ends.

Are Hair Dryers Known for Splitting Hair Ends?

Hair dryers can cause split ends in your hair, especially when used often and with a high heat setting. 

When you see a split end in your hair, it’s a sign that the outer cuticle has been damaged. When this protective outer layer can no longer do its job and protect the inner layers, these layers begin to break free and can end up as split ends. 

The multiple ends to a single strand of hair are evidence that a single, healthy cuticle layer no longer protects the inner layers. 

While hair dryers do have the power to damage this outer cuticle layer, it is far more likely to happen if you are using your hair dryer with high heat settings. Using your hair dryer on low heat and holding it at least six inches from your head will make it far less likely to create split ends.

It’s not just high heat hair drying that can lead to split ends. Other heating products, like curling irons or straighteners, are guilty of applying even more heat directly to your hair. 

If you often swim in chlorinated pools or live in an area with chlorinated tap water, this can cause your hair to split as well. Exposure to strong sunlight, frequent hair dying, or aggressive brushing can damage your hair and cause split ends. 

Does Excessive Heat Cause Hair Splitting?

Excessive heat certainly has the potential to cause split ends. Heat can damage the outer cuticle layer of your hair, which is how the split ends process begins.

Turning your hair dryer, straightener, or curling iron to the highest heat setting can be tempting. These high settings can make it easier to style your hair quickly and get the exact style you’re looking for.

Although it might be satisfying in the short term, keep in mind that this is a recipe for split ends. This is even more true when applying high heat to wet hair.

When hair is wet, the outer cuticle is partially raised, giving you access to the delicate layers below. Your hair is even more susceptible to heat-related damage when it’s in this wet, delicate state. 

The more you expose the inner layers of your hair to heat, the more damage you can do. Your hair’s natural moisture is stored in the cortex, the layer directly below the cuticle. 

If you dry out the cortex, you will notice a difference in your hair as its natural source of moisture disappears. You might notice more split ends, frizzier strands, and dehydrated-feeling hair. 

How Can You Avoid Split Ends When Using Hair Dryers?

Remember that your hair is at its most vulnerable when it is wet. Your hair’s outer protective cuticle layer is partially raised when you step out of the shower. It will continue to be in this delicate state until it is dry.

When you air-dry your hair, you are actually leaving your hair in this sensitive state for a long time. This can put your hair at risk of being damaged in this window, where it is wet and damp.  

If you can gently blow dry your hair, you are actually accelerating the process of returning your hair to its strongest state when fully dry. 

You can follow these simple steps to get your hair dry safely and without creating more split ends:

Use Your Towel to Remove Excess Moisture Gently

Use your towel to absorb as much water from your hair as possible.

Remember that your hair is most delicate when wet, so you will want to be gentle with this step. 

Use a gentle patting motion to remove moisture. You can use a microfiber towel to help with the absorption.

Once you feel you have removed as much water as you can, you can move on to the next step. 

Use a Thermal Heat Protector Product

Next, you can apply a thermal heat protector product to your hair.

This is usually a spray or cream that you can find wherever you purchase your hair care products. 

When you turn on your blow dryer, a thermal heat protector will insulate your hair from the incoming heat waves. Once the product is applied, it will protect the core of your hair from losing moisture.

When your hair loses its natural moisture, it becomes dry, brittle, and prone to split ends. Using a thermal heat protector will help prevent that from occurring. 

Gently Use Your Blow Dryer

Turning your blow dryer up to the highest setting can be tempting to dry your hair as fast as possible. However, the more speed and heat your hair is exposed to, the more likely it will be damaged and split ends occur.

Instead, set your blow dryer for the lowest heat and speed. This is especially important if your hair is a bit fine. 

Keep the blow dryer at least 6 inches away from your head and hair as you blow your hair dry. 

In addition to giving some space, you will also want to keep the dryer in motion. By moving the hair drying and keeping it from getting too close to your head, you can avoid the heat getting too concentrated in one spot of your hair and creating unwanted damage. 

You will also want to start at the root of your hair and work your way down to the ends when blow-drying. This is an effective technique because it smooths the outer cuticle layer in the right direction.

This can help prevent frizziness and damage while increasing the overall sheen of your hair. 

It can be hard to smooth your hair’s outer cuticle by just air drying alone. Gently blow drying your hair can help your hair shine and reflect light better as you care for and smooth the cuticles. 

Know When to Stop

You will want to stop blow-drying just before the hair is completely dry.

If you over-dry your hair, you are creating the chance that you will dry out your hair at its core. When this happens, you can expect it to appear frizzy, brittle, and full of split ends. 

For a step-by-step tutorial on how to gently and correctly use a blow dryer on your hair without causing damage, you can check out this video on YouTube:

Can You Protect Your Hair While Drying?

Following our guide above will help protect your hair from damage while drying it. Remember, blow dryers on low heat settings are low-risk drying options. It can help get your hair out of its most fragile state more quickly than air drying.

We have a few suggestions if you are looking for some helpful products to protect your hair from styling heat. 

You can try Sleek It Heat Spray from L’oreal Paris for an effective and affordable thermal heat protection option.

This lightweight spray can protect your hair up to 450 degrees of heat, which should be enough for your hair dryer and any straightening irons. 

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Apply when your hair is damp and enjoy its protection as you begin to blow it dry. Your hair might even appear sleeker and shinier as the product helps protect and lock in your hair’s natural moisture. 

If you’re a fan of Moroccanoil products, you can try their Perfect Defense aerosol spray.

This paraben-free formula will protect your hair from up to 450 degrees of heat exposure.

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When your hair is damp, mist the spray over your hair and continue to style with your blow dryer. The spray also contains argan oil and vitamin E, so it will revitalize and nourish your hair while it protects it from heat. 

For further control over the drying and styling process, ensure you have a hair dryer and other hair tools with a full heat setting. Cheaper products might have an “on/off” switch and don’t give you much control over the actual temperature you are exposing your hair to regularly. 

If this sounds like your hair dryer or straightener, consider upgrading to one with more user-controlled settings. The more you can control the heat your hair comes in contact with, the more you will be able to protect it when drying. 

Final Thoughts

Intense exposure to high heat can damage the protective layer of your hair. When the cuticle gets damaged, you leave it at risk of drying, frizziness, and split ends. 

Dry your hair gently and use heat with caution to avoid causing split ends with your daily hair care routine.

Regular blow-drying with low heat is not as risky as using the highest possible heat. Apply a thermal heat protector product to your hair before drying for better protection. 


Cosmopolitan: Split Ends: Why You Have Damage and How to Get Rid of It

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Healthline: How to Get Rid of Split Ends