This is How Steam Straightener Affects Hair

by Stephanie Sanchez
[ Veteran Hair Coach and Stylists ]

Are steam straighteners as good as they claim? Is steam beneficial? What hair types are Steam Hair Straighteners best? How do steam hair straighteners work?

To Steam or not to steam that is the question!

There is still some confusion as to whether or not steam hair straighteners are good or bad for you.

Are steam straighteners as good as a regular flat iron? Is steam beneficial? For what hair types are Steam Hair Straighteners best? How do steam hair straighteners work?

In this article we will answer:

  • How do steam hair straighteners work?

  • How does steam affect your hair?

  • For what hair types are Steam Hair Straighteners best?

How Do Steam Hair Straighteners Work?

The Science of Steam

Not all steam is created equal.

  • Saturated steam: even though the name doesn't sound like it, it is actually dry steam from when water is heated to the boiling point and then separated from the water droplets with additional heat.
  • If that steam is further heated, it then becomes superheated steam.

Not to worry these ARE NOT the types of steam used in Steam Hair Straighteners

  • Unsaturated Steam or Wet Steam is the most common form of steam and the kind used by most steam straighteners.
  • Wet steam contains wetness from non-vaporized water molecules droplets of water that have not changed entirely into gas. Wet steam contains 3% to 5% water.

Source tlv.comcorrosionpedia

Why Does It Matter?

  • Steam is an efficient heat transfer medium. However, condensate is a byproduct of heat transfer.
  • If too much condensate comes out, it changes back into water. Which would be counterproductive in the straightening process.
  • The best steam hair straightening technique is to heat the hair without leaving behind excess condensate.
  • Steam is water in gas form. But condensate and non-vaporized water droplets in the steam can directly affect the steam iron’s ability to straighten. Some steam hair straighteners have the option to control the amount of steam produced.
  • and will make your hair revert to its natural state.
  • Too much steam can make your hair either frizzy or limp

Are Steam Hair Straighteners Better Than Regular Flat Irons?

Steam Hair Straighteners vs. Regular Flat irons:

  • Standard hair straighteners or flat irons apply direct heat to the hair. The average temperature of a flat iron can reach 450F.
  • That is much hotter than the temperature of steam. Steam happens at the boiling temperature of water 212 F. Steam vapor is not hotter than boiling water, but pressure can make steam more dangerous.
  • Thankfully Steam flat irons do not use any pressurized steam.
  • That is not the full story, however. Steam flat irons also use heated metal or ceramic plates to evaporate the water and further heat the hair.
  • So while the steam itself is not as harmful to your hair, be careful with the heat from the plates the same as you would with a regular hair straightener.

How Does Steam Affect The Hair?

  • Humidity, including steam, resets the hydrogen bonds of your hair. When steam is applied to the hair the hydrogen bonds become pliable to change.
  • Then as the hair cools and dries the hydrogen bonds take on the new straightened and smother shape until humidity or heat is re-introduced.
  • So the primary purpose of using a steam flat iron is to help relax the hair, making straightening faster and easier than with a regular flat iron. Steam Straighteners also utilize negative ions to counteract frizz.
  • Adding tension is an important step to help smooth hair, especially super curly or kinky Coily hair. So when using a Steam hair straightener, make sure you keep tension on the hair until it is cold, and moisture from vapor has dissipated.

For What Hair Types Are Steam Hair Straighteners Best?

  • Steam hair straighteners are especially great for coarse or wavy hair since it can help even out your hair’s texture and create beach waves that hold.
  • Steam Hair Straighteners are not favorable to super curly or kinky Coily hair. Hair tends to puff up after it cools. Steam straighteners will not give kinky curly hair that bone-straight finish.

Climate and humidity

  • Steam Stylers are great for those who live with heating and air-conditioning or those living in arid climates who need added moisture to keep their hair looking healthy.
  • However, If you live in a very humid climate, I would not recommend using a steam straightener. Since the humidity reactivates your natural texture, steam won’t give you long-lasting results. Moisture is the reason why your hair becomes frizzy or limp.

Can a Steam Hair Straightener Be Used on Wet Hair?

No, don’t use steam hair straighteners on wet hair. 

If you are starting out with wet or damp hair, adding more moisture and wetness is counterproductive for straightening especially if you have natural texture.

And it’s time-consuming for your hair to fully dry if using steam on wet hair.

In Conclusion

Steam softens your hair making it easier to straighten with fewer passes. However, steam can also reset the hair’s natural texture pattern if you overdo it.

Proper technique is essential, to avoid too much steam, and hair needs tension as it cools to keep it smooth and straight.

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