Many of you have asked me to weigh in with some science on the effect of the ever popular hair steamers because they are really not cheap to buy and the question remains, are they worth the investment?
Well, it may surprise some of you but there is actually very little research out there including by the companies that make steamers!I have seen it all claimed, from hydrating to strengthening hair but not a single scientific paper to back these claims. The little research that there is on steaming hair is actually from work done in 1934 (ah yes, you read that date correctly, really, *1934).
The Short Story
1. Steaming hair for under 30 minutes is generally considered safe in terms of not damaging hair.
2. Steaming hair is pretty similar to wetting hair meaning hair absorbs moisture and swells. It can feel smoother as a result of the swelling.
3. Steaming will allow hair to stretch a little more than wetting hair would with the same force (therefore be gentle when handling steamed or wet hair).
4. Steamed hair will remain elastic provided you use reasonable gradual force and remain under the 30 minutes.
5. Steaming over 30 minutes can induce disulphide (disulfide if you are on the other side of the pond) bonds to break - essentially, yes, steaming for long times CAN relax your hair.
Now for the Long Story, head over to The Natural Haven.