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Curly Nikki

Hair Tip of The Day

By January 27th, 20218 Comments

Yesterday we were talking about white dots…

Yes, as some of you stated, white dots can signify a lice problem (ewwww!!!), but in this particular case, it’s the result of heat damage.

In fact, two years ago, white dots could be found on the tips of my colored strands. I guess the color and heat damage proved to be too much for my fine strands. This white dot syndrome is also known as bubble hair, or more formally, Trichorrhexis nodosa. It occurs when there is an explosion of the cortex at a single point on the hair strand. It looks like a tiny white bead on the hair, and inevitably results in hair breakage. It is a classic sign of physical and/or chemical over-treatment of the hair. The hair is so fragile at the white dot, that even the slightest tug results in breakage below the dot. Sometimes, the hair is bent at a hard or 90 degree angle at the white dot, which inevitably results in breakage. The problem is, if left to its own devices, the broken off hair (the end with the white dot) may split or cause adjacent hairs to tangle up. It’s best to snip the hair above the white dot, and then proceed to get your moisture/protein balance in check.

A couple of years ago, I found an awesome online reference manual on Proctor and Gamble’s web site.Very informative! It’s written by Dr. John Gray and it’s provided by the Proctor & Gamble Hair Care Research center. Check it out HERE, and find some key excerpts about white dot syndrome below:

Excerpt #1
We have seen the importance of the moisture content of hair to the hair’s condition. Processes like blow drying reduce the moisture content below its normal level and can in themselves be harmful. Hair dryers and other heated appliances first soften the keratin of the hair. If they are too hot, they can actually cause the water in the hair to boil, and tiny bubbles of steam then form inside the softened hair shaft. The hair is thereby weakened, and may break altogether.
There is no treatment for seriously heat-damaged hair, although trimming the damaged hair can reduce the formation of split ends.

Excerpt #2
People will tell you that their bubble hair ‘just happened’, quite suddenly, after they had been doing the same things to their hair for a long time. Then all at once they noticed tiny ‘bubbles’ in the ends of their hair.

Invariably, bubble hair is caused by some kind of heating appliance, most often curling irons. These operate somewhere between 120 and 180 °C, roughly speaking. Water boils at 100 °C. If a hot curling iron is put on to wet hair, it boils the water inside the hair. The boiling water softens the keratin of the cortex; then the steam from the boiling water expands and forms tiny bubbles inside the hair. Eventually the hair breaks off, either at or somewhere near a bubble.

Every woman who has used curling irons knows that they work better on some days than others. One day she may have them just a little hotter than usual: that might be just enough to cause bubble hair, and for the affected hair to break off.

Although the sufferer usually claims that her hair was perfectly normal until she changed the hair product she was using, further enquiry always uncovers a history of increased or excessive cosmetic treatments. Usually bubble hair happens to people who are doing a lot of styling to their hair at home. And it is always, always associated with the use of heated appliances on damp hair.

Bubble Hair up close:

Hair Tip of The Day

Hair Tip of The Day

Makes you want to think twice before reaching for that blow dryer, huh?

For another article on split ends and how to prevent them, click HERE.


  • CURLYNIKKI says:

    Flowerchild thanks for that info!

    Lauren, it sounds like your in the same boat as I was. My hair didn’t change textures, but it was breaking. If your hair isn’t splitting, you can hold on to it, while it grows out…cutting a little at a time. Good luck! Keep it strong with protein and moisture.

    Anonymous, I agree, and disagree. Curling irons and flat irons are definitely tools of torture! However, I used to blow dry my hair often and I think it did quite a bit of damage too. Many of the articles on white nodes or dots, refer to water boiling inside the cortex of the strand. This only happens on damp or wet hair. I never took a flat iron to my wet strands, but I most certainly took a flaming hot blow dryer and paddle brush to it… a lot..and so did my beautician. My dots probably came from a combination of blow drying, and flat ironing. Heat styling, be it flat irons, pressing combs, curling irons, or blow dryers should be used sparingly and with caution. If you choose to use a blow dryer on a regular basis, make sure to keep it at least 4 inches away from your head.


  • Anonymous says:

    The article itself listed curling irons because a blow dryer itself cannot get as hot as a metal/ceramic heat appliance. Meaning, the hot air that flows from a blow dryer can never get as hot as metal as it would melt the plastic. 60 degrees C is hot enough to burn skin. Not to say blow dryers can’t cause this damage–overtime it could damage the cuticle. But heat appliances that apply DIRECT heat to the hair, curling irons, flat irons, etc. are what do this damage the fastest, if not instantly. These appliances are able to “boil” the hair even when used on what we think is dry hair is because even “dry” hair has some amounts of moisture within in it, as well as moisture that is in air.

    Just thought I’d point this out since you referenced a blow dryers.

  • Natakue says:

    uggh, close up shots of damaged hair always makes me feel itchy. thanks a lot nikki, haha! =p

  • Ayomide says:

    wow, that picture of the hair strand is scary. I have never heard or seen this white dots problem, thank goodness.

  • AlongCameStacey says:

    Lauren… I'm sorry but there's no way to reverse heat damage :-/

    Nikki… I think it's so great that you posted on this topic. I've been hanging out on the site, amongst others, trying to figure out the proper way to care for the new texture that is on the way. (3 1/2 months and growing, yay!) And I keep stumbling on this page ( ) of tips. One of the tips is as follows:

    Ends of your hair: If you have a relaxer, and you're using a curling irons just about everyday, spray or dab ice water on the ends, and hot curl the ends, this will make your ends/curls hold longer and have more moisture—- as the cold and hot produces steam heat. Crown & Glory Tip.

    It never made sense to me to apply heat on wet hair, whether it's cold or hot water. It can't be a good thing.

  • Leila Daily says:

    that 90 degree angle thing is so true! i recently completed a set of box braids that were kinda angular looking. turns out they were too dry.

  • Gigi says:

    Awe shucks. wet sets and buns it is.

  • Lauren says:

    I’ve been straightening my hair for years now and I’ve noticed that when I let it go all natural and curly, the ends don’t curl right anymore – they start out as nice ringlets and fall into weird kinks at the bottom. I like having my hair flat-ironed sometimes but I’d like to leave it curly, too. Suggestions as to how I can fix the bottom of my hair (or do you think it’s a goner)?

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