View Full Version : Which is worse for you? Chemical vs Mechanical vs Heat Damage

December 8th, 2012, 08:56 PM
Hello All!

I've read a lot over the past year on the different types of damage, and how they work. I know that they are all the enemy of long healthy hair, but I have often wondered which type of damage is worse. I am thinking that the answer may vary from person to person depending on hair type (fine, coarse, thin, dense, curly, straight). If someone's hair is very coily, then mechanical damage may be more of a factor than someone with straight hair because of tangling (and detangling). Likewise, a person with fine hair may be more susceptible to heat damage than a person with coarse hair, etc.

I am curious about your experiences and hair types. Do you think that one type of damage is worse than another? Why, or why not?

December 8th, 2012, 09:32 PM
My hair is very resistant to chemicals. Relaxers would never get it straight and dyes would never take. I would put all kinds of stuff on my hair with no bad effects or actually any effects at all

Heat killed my hair though. I used to flat iron my hair daily without any heat protectant and it was breaking off all over.

Now I don't use chemicals or heat and i'm very careful about mechanical damage. I only finger detangle and I wear a satin bonnet to bed. I can't really tell if it's made a difference or if it's even something I should worry about in the first place, but I like to do it this way so i'll continue.

I have fine hair with big loose curls

December 8th, 2012, 10:04 PM
I would say it would be an individual thing. It would depend on each person and what their hair can and can't stand. Personally,when I was coloring my hair it didn't do any damage to it. Neither did a perm. The only way I could get my hair to curl and stay curled was to perm it. If I try to use heat to curl it It would be curled for only a little while before it would be almost back to the way it was before I curled it. The only time I ever actually damaged my hair was when I got a short curly perm and didn't like it. Two days later I bought a relaxer kit and used it. Talk about a righteous mess! I had a big weird fuzz ball in the back of my head that had to just grow out and then be cut off. I could hide it if I teased and curled it and used lots of hair spray. Fortunately it was the 80's so teased, curled and sprayed hair was normal!

December 8th, 2012, 10:12 PM
I have fine hair, so for me it goes in this order:
1. Heat damage my hair feels like straw if I use a straightener
2. Chemical damage from dye, I can't retain a chemical colour for a very long time, my ends always lose their colour first
3. Mechanical. My hair is pretty easy to detangle because it is fine

December 8th, 2012, 11:47 PM
I have never chemically relaxed or permed my hair, and I haven't dyed in well over ten years, so I don't even remember the extent of dye damage, so can't really answer as to chemical damage.

I have coarse hair and I would say mechanical damage is far more instantaneously damaging than heat styling, at least for me. Rough brushing, ripping through a tangle, or the creation of mats can cause instant splits for me, whereas I can blowdry or flat iron every once in a while and be just fine and dandy. However, with the great haircut of 2008, I can't say which contributed more to overall damage than the other as I did both.

December 9th, 2012, 12:32 AM
I have never done all three at once. I did perm my hair once and that was pretty bad. However, I also had no idea how to care for it. I rarely heat style, having given that up years ago, so I can't say how damaging it is. I did dye my hair every 3 - 4 weeks for years, and managed to get to waist length without a hiccup. I don't think it is quite as damaging as heat styling, but I could be mistaken. Some of the worst damage I have experienced recently involved humectants. AVG, honey, SMT's, anything like that and I wake up with a head full of split ends. I would say they are more damaging to my hair than dyeing was.

December 9th, 2012, 02:23 AM
For me it goes like this: heat damage is bad both short term and long term, mechanical is bad short term, chemical damage (dyes) sucks later on.

December 9th, 2012, 03:32 AM
I have never been much of a heat styler (too lazy lol) and my hair is pretty resiliant to mechanical damage, but oh boy have I thrown some chemicals at it! I do love changing my colour, luckily now I have discovered semi perm dyes, but for years I used permanent box dyes, then stripped with Colour B4, and the difference between my LHC hair & the old dye damaged parts is very obvious.

December 9th, 2012, 07:21 AM
Personally I dye my hair twice a month (low volume developer) and my hair is in perfect, soft condition. If I dare blowdry or use a flat iron though.....major damage! And I mean just one :-/ Mechanical....My hair is pretty strong but no matter how strong your hair eventually, pins and combs and twisting and pulling will cause some damage.

December 9th, 2012, 08:03 AM
I have fine hair which I have been dying/bleaching/heat styling/using a lot of chemicals on since I was very little. I have been trying to save my hair for, well, all my life - but it would never ever grow longer than APL/BSL.

Since I stopped all of that (I'm pretty much an on/off kind of person) and started CO-washing my hair has started to grow faster than ever in my life and just reached waist. I have grown 11 cm in 8 months, which has never happened before. What also has happened is that my - what I thought was - straight hair started to become wavier and wavier and waiver. I love it!! So for my hair, all kinds of damage is bad.

These waves have not been here before.:) They have started to show up after I stopped my former routine:
http://imageshack.us/a/img12/337/sep1t.th.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/12/sep1t.jpg/)

I do have very fine hair, but the state of most of it is so fragile and damaged due to my former activities... Even though my new growth is baby fine it's incredibly strong if I compare to my damaged parts. In the picture you can see my longer layer laying over my shoulder, pin straight. I never knew the damage completely changed my hair type so drastically but it's pretty obvious now!

December 9th, 2012, 08:07 AM
I've never used heated styling tools so that's not an issue for me.
Chemical perm I was growing out was bad my hair damaged frizzy from it.
Mechanical damage I'm good about being careful with my hair.
My downfall is chemical damage.

December 9th, 2012, 09:49 AM
I don't have much chemical damage, some issues from lemon juice lightning, but most of my damage is from flat-ironing, blow drying, curling, hair spray, and gel. I've almost trimmed off all the damage, though.

December 9th, 2012, 10:00 AM
-I haven't used chemicals in so long that that isn't really an issue.
-But hair is very thin and fine so heat does a lot of damage. I have given up using heat on my hair but I have a lot of damage from when I did use it.
-My hair is pretty fragile and tangles easily so right now mechanical damage is the only one I am still battling.

December 9th, 2012, 01:06 PM
I have wurly hair that's neither fine nor coarse. I've never coloured my hair. It's hard to know whether mechanical or heat caused more damage, since for several years I both ripped a brush through my hair and fried it with straighteners. I'd say I got more splits all along my hair shafts from straightening, and my hair thinned considerably from yanking so much of it out with a brush. Not a good combination, really.

December 9th, 2012, 01:08 PM
I'd say chemical damage, especially, because you're breathing in chemicals and absorbing them through your skin. When I used to dye my hair, my hair texture changed from soft and "cuddleable" to a straw-like texture and lots of frizz. Never doing that again!

December 9th, 2012, 01:35 PM
Chemical dyes gave my hair a different texture, softer and more cotton like. The ends got bad fast, and I think proteins were just sucked out of my hair. I could not get any real lenght.

It is hard to really know though, because it would depend on how often the damaging procedures would happen, and how strong they are. Like backcombing your whole head twice a week vs brushing roughly occationally. White bleaching your whole hair vs some low lights.

I think a combination would be worst, to much happening for the hair to deal with.

December 9th, 2012, 01:56 PM
damage is damage, and it annoys me no matter what caused it.
but, I have to say that chemical damage is often very visible because of color difference, and sometimes that looks good, but usually it does not.
heat or mechanical damage is more easy to hide.

December 9th, 2012, 02:03 PM
I think that depends a lot on each one's hair. But they can all be really damaging in the right amount... like saying which is worse: doing coke, hitting your against the wall or sunbathing ;)

December 9th, 2012, 02:20 PM
For me; heat damage is the worst.

I dye my hair & after a few deep oilings my hair feels back to normal.

Mechanical damage doesn't occur much for me, my hair seems resistant to that, I am also pretty resistant to splits.

So, yes, heat damage really does effect my hair. I have old pictures of myself when I used to heat style regularly and my hair looked horrific!

December 9th, 2012, 02:26 PM
I'd have to say chemical dyes, I've had really bad experiences with it in the past lol. :)

December 9th, 2012, 02:47 PM
For me, heat does the most damage on my hair. I had not heat styled my hair in about 6 months, and then I blow dried it just once for Thanksgiving (on a low setting) and BAM! Splits everywhere.

The next thing would be chemicals - I have not dyed my hair since May, and I can tell a big difference in the dyed hair and the 4-5 inches of virgin growth I have. The chemically treated hair is not as shiny and it feels a bit rougher.

Lastly would be mechanical damage. As long as I am gentle and careful during the process, I do not get much damage at all from putting it up or using hair accessories. The only damage that comes about from it is on the areas that are damaged already from heat and chemical dyes.

December 9th, 2012, 04:42 PM
Chemical damage isn't that bad for my hair, at least not chemical dyes. A lot of my hair is still dyed from, at last dye, September last year, and it's been thrice dyed and is just fine. Mechanical damage I don't know anymore because I keep my hair up every day, but I do know that my hair used to look really bad whenever it got to around the length it's at now in the past, when I had it down all the time, washed with S+C every other day, and ripped through it with a paddle brush a couple times a day.

Heat damage is definitely the worst for my hair. Every time I've ever had it straightened, it becomes FULL of splits a day or two after. Without fail. I will never, ever let heat touch it again, beyond the few seconds it gets under hot water when it's washed. :p

December 9th, 2012, 05:04 PM
I think they are all three of them non-damaging (well not that damaging) when used in moderation; wisely.

December 9th, 2012, 06:16 PM
I'd have to say chemicals, but that's because I thought it would be a good idea to bleach my already blonde hair (before LHC, it wasn't growing out fast enough since I kept getting it cut like the hairdresser told me). But mechanical and heat damage is much worse on bleached hair so I'd have to say combination is the worst. Especially if you don't take precautions to protect your hair before potentially damaging things.
Lately I've decided that I need to stop trying complicated styles, I keep snapping hairs and there is always a moment and I feel like kicking myself for damaging it when I want it long and beautiful!

czech it out
December 9th, 2012, 06:42 PM
I have fine hair, and for me, chemical damage (bleaching and dying) has been the worst offender. I dyed the bangs of my otherwise brown hair platinum blonde a few years ago. Now, those bits are prone to tangling, breakage, and just feel squeaky and straw-like. I also used to heat-style my hair every day, which dried it out after a while. However, the un-dyed parts of my hair bounced back from that after I started oiling and stopped using heat. As for mechanical damage, it only happens to me when I put my hair up in tight styles so I usually just leave it down.

December 9th, 2012, 07:23 PM
Dying my hair actually makes it feel smoother (permanent dye, vol 20 developer). If that's damage, I'll take it :D

I also blow dry my hair 2x a week after I wash it, which does some damage, but not that much I feel. As for mechanical damage, I sleep on a silk satin pillow case (helps a little) and I keep my hair up most of the time.

December 9th, 2012, 07:30 PM
I have no damage whatsoever from dying it. I use the proper dye though, and a gentle one at that. (What I mean by this is that I use Semi permanent dye and 10 vol developer, I don't use permanent dye [which tends to be most damaging])
I feel like Mechanical damage is what gets me..between brushing, hair ties, etc...
Heat damage...Hmm..I was really good about not using heat for several months but have slipped up recently. My hair is still totally fine though. I recognize that if I keep it up, it will become very damaged over time. Lately I have wanted to heat style because it feels more polished and makes my hair look prettier.

December 9th, 2012, 08:34 PM
I have fairly fine, strait hair, so:

1. HEAT! It doesn't take much heat styling before I smell burnt hair.

2. Chemical. Luckily (I think?) my hair is pretty porous, so it soaks dye right up and holds it there, making it so I don't have to re-touch too often. But bleaching does make a few hairs fall out everytime (not so much that I think it's making me loose hair, I think resting/done-growing hair just gives up when I bleach enough to noticibly lighten)

3. Mechanical. Now that I use a Tangle Teezer and sleep in buns/braids, my hair rarely tangles! :D

December 9th, 2012, 09:01 PM

2. Chemical. Luckily (I think?) my hair is pretty porous, so it soaks dye right up and holds it there, making it so I don't have to re-touch too often. But bleaching does make a few hairs fall out everytime (not so much that I think it's making me loose hair, I think resting/done-growing hair just gives up when I bleach enough to noticibly lighten)

I think it might be nice for you to hear that you hair is probably NOT very porous at all :) If it was really porous, your hair would not take to or hold the dye well whatsoever. It would feel damaged and dry/just funky/not healthy.

December 9th, 2012, 09:46 PM
Chemical damage is by far the worst for me. I get dry frizzy hair with splits and frayed ends. With heat styling I can't really tell if its doing anything bad.

December 9th, 2012, 10:02 PM
I think it might be nice for you to hear that you hair is probably NOT very porous at all :) If it was really porous, your hair would not take to or hold the dye well whatsoever. It would feel damaged and dry/just funky/not healthy.

Oh! Haha, I always thought it was the other way around. Or rather, from what I remember reading when I was in unnatural hair comms, you want your hair to be somewhat porous (otherwise the dye doesn't penetrate at all), but not too much so (if its SO porous that the dye has nothing to stick to anymore)

December 9th, 2012, 10:17 PM
heat damage for me. I had issues with white dots in my hair from flat ironing. After that would be mechanical, I grow "faster" when I wear my hair in a bun to sleep, and detangle with a leave in product. As for chemical... bleach over bleach caused some breakage back in the day, but I have been chemically red for quite some time 2, maybe 3 years, with no damage at all.

December 9th, 2012, 11:34 PM
Chemical. Any harsh chemicals, even a non-bleach hair dye, makes my hair fall out. High heat is usually needed to do anything to my hair....and so it almost always means a trim is needed. Finally, my hair is very curly and so mechanical damage happens whenever I try to fight it.

It's odd. This time around, I've tried to avoid all three as I've been growing out and I've been amazed at how much coarser my hair is. I remembered having coarse hair as a kid but I thought I'd outgrown it. It boggles my mind to think how much damage I must have been doing to my hair regularly to reduce my follicle thickness that much!

December 10th, 2012, 11:22 AM
Mechanical damage is the worst culprit for my fine 1c/2a hair.

I don't heat style but I used to use hot rollers and don't remember any major damage from that. I dye my hair golden blonde and it actually seems to have conditioned my hair somewhat..

But I can't leave my hair down, it breaks off at BSL and looks awful all the way down to TB! I tried everything but nothing helped until I finally realised I had no choice but to keep it up and bunned. I've been doing so for the last six months and the thickness at BSL is finally moving down to waist.

December 10th, 2012, 11:26 AM
I think mechanical damage must be the worst for me- though to be honest I was fairly rough on my hair for years until coming to LHC, and I never really had a particular abundance of split ends -shrug-
I've used dyes for a decade now, and have never noticed damage from them either, as for heat I used to blow dry on SCARYHOT once or twice a week, and whilst I'm sure it wsn't good for my hair, I'm lucky that I never really got any outward signs of damage- I think I must be lucky to have incredibly resilient hair! Must be one of the up sides to having strands thicker than The Boy's beard hairs xD

December 10th, 2012, 11:43 AM
Without a doubt chemical damage... I have very fine hair that curls and gets straight easily it gets a bit dry but it's OK. However I bleached my hair when I was younger and it took it three years took get back at its natural state :(

December 10th, 2012, 12:09 PM
I have fine straight hair and used to dye the living daylights out of it! It was so fried that colour wouldn't stick to it anymore. So for me it's definitely chemical. My hair usually lies very obediently so heat and styling tools are/were rarely used. Now I don't dye or style with anything but a brush. Hair seems to be happy! ;-)

December 10th, 2012, 12:12 PM
For me, chemical damage is the worst, granted my hair is akin to a cockroach in that it can pretty much survive anything and everything but if I use too much bleach eventually it starts to show signs of damage but it takes a lot of bleach.

December 10th, 2012, 12:27 PM
I remember that sometimes i will blow dry my hair when i was young and it was in really good condition.

But in high school i used chemical dye, bleach and flat iron together, bad combo, really bad combo. I'm really surprised my hair looked somewhat decent then, even with breakage, but i didn't trim very often.

December 10th, 2012, 04:52 PM
Chemical dyes were definitely the worst for me. The texture of my hair changed drastically, and not for the better.

Heat damage is second. I haven't heat styled in about a year and my hair has so much more shine now.

Mechanical damage is last. My hair doesn't tangle much so I rarely have to do battle with it :)

December 10th, 2012, 07:47 PM
For me it's probably between heat damage and mechanical damage as I've never dyed my hair. Girls I was around didn't dye their hair in high school and so I never got the urge to dye mine until some of my friends in college were dyeing theirs (they've been doing it since their teens) but it didn't take long for them to talk me out of it.

In high school and undergrad years there were a few times when I blow dried my hair for either special occasions or to not be going to bed with wet hair. While doing swimming in high school I would blow dry my hair after nearly every practice once it got cold outside, so all those blow dries did some damage to my hair.

My roughness with my hair was another matter though as it probably did more damage than heat. Mechanical damage doesn't really get to my hair as I don't really have any splits even though I wear my hair down nearly all the time, stopped using comb on it and still sleep on cotton/polyester pillowcase. Guess my hair either just like it when I'm a little rough to it or can live with it at the moment.

December 10th, 2012, 08:37 PM
For me they are all bad. My hair is extremely easily damaged. The major problems come from the ones I regularly use. I only ever bleached a few strands one time but it was horrible. They became so dry and straight and even felt coarse. Heat damage is really bad but it makes my hair fall pretty so I blow it dry for Sundays and special occasions. Mechanical damage always bodes the worst though because my hair is so tangly. I brush it with a boar's bristle brush and detangle carefully with a wide tooth comb. I condition every day then use a leave in and oil it every week. So far it's helping but I have a lot of leftover damage. Hope the new hairs are stronger than the old. :3

December 24th, 2012, 04:15 PM
My hair is coarse 2b/c ii and despite using a straightener daily for 2 years my hair doesn't seem damaged, it is frizzy but I think that it's my naturals texture because I have been on a low heat (twice a month) routine since September and I haven't noticed a change. I dyed my hair in the past with semi/permanent dyes with no noticeable difference, jus shinier. Mechanical damage wise I'm not sure i tend to find hairs over my coat from when I move my bag straps over my shoulders and it gets caught in train windows and behind me. It's pretty tough overall I also have low porosity too.

December 24th, 2012, 04:16 PM
Oh but blowfryers play havoc with my hair, makes it flyaway frizzy and static!

December 24th, 2012, 06:42 PM
Heat and mechanical damage are both pretty bad for me. Not a real issue as my hair is fairly straight, doesn't take a curl for love or money, and I don't get real speed gains from blow drying. My hair dries at a horribly slow rate no matter what, and blow drying doesn't really help.

So I stick my hair up wet, and ignore it, and that saves a lot of trouble. Some people worry that freezing their hair may cause damage, but my hair freezes pretty routinely if it's 0F out, and compared to blow drying, the damage is just not there.

Chemical attempts to curl are a bad idea. If the curl actually stays in, it takes a perm solution so strong that my dark ash brown hair bleaches to bright blonde. Dye is fine as long as I stick to low peroxide formulae that work well with my hair. Feria tends to fry it, but most semi perm dyes work fine. Some permanents are fine too.

December 24th, 2012, 06:45 PM
Mechanical, because even though I have never dyed or regularly used heat, my hair has been quite damaged in the past. It has always been fine and fragile, so I have to be gentle with it. I used to comb roughly and rub it with towels in addition to not using conditioner and it had breakage and splits all over the length from waist to ears.

Shampoos and hard water can dry my hair out badly and that counts as chemical damage, I suppose.

December 24th, 2012, 09:28 PM
CHEMICAL. By far. It attacks every single hair you have, and the only solution it to grow ALL of it out, vs. mechanical which is area targeted. Heat damage is area-targetted to the ends as well.

December 24th, 2012, 10:09 PM
I seem to be able to dye my hair and not cause a lot of damage, but I am particular about what I use. I like Robert Craig if I am using permanent dye, and Ion demi-perm dye w/ a level 10 developer. I've never noticed damage from using them, but I am using deposit only products and not lifting color. I also can blow dry on medium heat w/out major issues. However, curling irons and flat irons damage my hair very quickly. I rarely, rarely use them for that reason. Sun and chlorine are also big hair killers for me, and I avoid them at all cost.

December 24th, 2012, 10:41 PM
I feel like for me ( my hair is fine but thick, i do have a lot of hair) HEAT damage is number one destroyer for me. When i was really into the straightener in high school, i remember it seemed like my hair never grew, or it would actually get half an inch shorter every few months. boy, was i wrong i was just uber killing it. Chemical is a close runner up, b/c my hair seems to freeze in place with any dye that i do, and lastly mechanical damage, especially when it seems to want to be curly and a pain in the arse to detangle! But i feel like i have some sort of control over the mechanical damage

December 25th, 2012, 12:22 AM
Heat is the fastest destroyer for my hair, followed by mechanical damage, and chemical damage last. Though I did eventually see damage from peroxide dyes, it took a long time for me to really start to have issues with it. Heat totally ruins my hair if I do it just a few times. I'm careful about mechanical damage.


December 25th, 2012, 02:32 AM
Interesting how people have such different opinions. Since I have super coarse hair, I assume that is why I think CHEMICAL is the worst and I'm not concerned about heat/mechanical; my hair is straight and doesn't tangle a lot, and it takes heat pretty nicely.

December 25th, 2012, 03:39 AM
I never ever use heat on my hair so that is no issue. Unless warm water is damaging...
I rarely ever put my hair up, so mechanical damage is hardly an issue either. If i do it's to tie off a braid with a ouchless headband or even more rarely, a messy french twist secured with a beak clip.

So I guess it has to be chemical for me. I use sls schampoo and con conditioner. I wash my hair two or three times a week.
So far I haven't seen any damage, but who knows? Maybe my hair would be better off if I took away those chemicals?

I feel fine for now though :)

December 25th, 2012, 04:33 AM
- Bleaching is always the worst for me .
It's just So much damage in a short time, other stuff like heat or mechanical is not as bad At all !

September 11th, 2015, 03:48 AM
My hair doesn't really like much of any damage. But my hair doesn't throw that big of a fit when mechanical damage is done. Whether if I was relaxed or natural. A relaxer is the second type of damage that my hair doesn't mind as long as I give my hair the proper protein treatments, and chelate as needed for about a week ( then my hair goes back to normal). HOWEVER my hair under no type of circumstance, likes heat whatsoever. I haven't flat ironed my hair in a while, I give myself maybe 2 or 3 heat passes a year, and my hair just can't stand it. It gets dry, hard, and crispy almost instantly. With a relaxer even though I'm changing the chemical makeup of my hair, I know how to nurse it back to health regardless of my fine hair. As long as I have a wide tooth comb, mechanical damage isn't really a factor for me at all either. But heat. *hisses*. No bueno :/

September 11th, 2015, 05:44 AM
Chemical, mechanical and then heat damage... In that order. My hair never felt worse as after chemical straightening, also the
Friction issues i prviously expirienced with wavier texture didnt really do my hair any good. However heat damage is nothing i
Can counteract with a deeptreatment

September 11th, 2015, 07:15 AM
One word: Bleach.
Way too many times, including bad bleach jobs from 'professionals' - all snapping off at the crown!
Hair ruined!

September 11th, 2015, 07:34 AM
I've only had to deal with mechanical damage since I don't use heat or those bleaches or any other hair altering chemicals. Health wise it would be horrific for my skin to be dealing with anything else than combing hair and worrying over ends being worn down.