Hair Straightening the Right Way

Airdate: 3/28/14

Tune in as Paula teams up with Nathan to share the best ways to get curly, wavy, or frizzy hair super-straight. They’ll reveal the top tools and styling techniques that ensure long-lasting results, and highlight which styling products to use to get model-shiny hair that’s gorgeously sleek. Bye-bye, frizzies!

Paula Begoun: Hello, I’m Paula Begoun, the Cosmetics Cop, here with a vital member of the Paula’s Choice Team, our Social Media Community Manager. And you must have another - you have like so many hats you wear, Nathan Rivas.
Nathan Rivas: Rivas.
Paula Begoun: Rivas! You know, I even have his name -
Nathan Rivas: It’s phonetically -
Paula Begoun: Phonetically, and I knew I would - I’m sorry. I’ll never. And how long have we been working together?
Nathan Rivas: Oh, gosh, almost four years now, I think.
00:00:32 Yeah, a little bit, 3.5 years.
Paula Begoun: Four years? Nathan has been - is just genius with social media, reviewing products, writing content. His passion and love of everything skincare and makeup and beauty has been an incredible asset to me to me to all of our Paula’s Choice customers and fans on Facebook. And now even though I butcher his name I adore - I adore him and all his knowledge.
00:01:02 And today we’re going to be keeping you beautifully informed with everything you need to know about skincare, makeup, hair care, Botox, cosmetic surgery, hair care. You name it, we’ll discuss it. We’ll tell you the truth. We’ll tell you what the research says. And we’ll keep you away from the information, the misleading information, that will hurt your skin, hurt your hair, hurt your pocketbook.
00:01:25 We hate that part.
Nathan Rivas: That’s right. Darn misinformation out there. That darn information.
Paula Begoun: We love the part that makes you look better and saves you money. So, today we’re talking about hair straightening. And Nathan was saying that you get a lot of questions. That’s something that keeps you busy on Facebook, not to mention in our office with your other -
Nathan Rivas: That’s true.
Paula Begoun: With parts of the other research team.
Nathan Rivas: It’s something that pops up a lot on our Facebook page, I’d say on Twitter. We get it from messages from our fans. It’s one of those things that I think people, because it’s something that a lot of people deal with on a daily basis, or try to deal with on a daily basis, that it’s one of those topics that’s kind of always at the forefront, always at the top of people’s heads I guess we’ll say.
Paula Begoun: I like that one!
00:02:08 At the top of people’s heads who have long, curly, frizzy, unmanageable hair, as I do. What do you think - given all of the information that’s out there, I mean, how many times a month do the fashion magazines tell us, and we go to our hair stylists.
00:02:28 Given all the information out there about straightening hair, what do you think - what’s the major question? What are we missing? What are women asking you that I’m hoping we can answer today?
Nathan Rivas: You know, I think it’s complicated from the aspect that I think that it’s - there’s two sides to it. One is that there’s a lot of misinformation out there about how you can care for hair, especially straightening it and how you can “protect it” from heat damage and all these other sorts of things. But then you also have the skill level of the person who’s trying to straighten their hair. I mean, you can have the best type of product to straighten hair and the best type of tool, but if you have someone who is all thumbs with a flat iron then at the end they can come out and say, well, I tried that, it doesn’t work. You know, what else have you got?
00:03:12 And so I think it’s a combination of the levels of skill needed for different types of straightening and then also combating the misinformation about what works and what doesn’t.
Paula Begoun: Well, actually I think, well, actually, I think that’s brilliantly said. The major misleading information that we combat is the notion that the hair care products you use can make your hair straight.
00:03:38 I love the Clairol commercial with the woman on the plane doing something to her hair in the bathroom and she’s making -
Nathan Rivas: And five minutes later it comes out!
Paula Begoun: And she’s just out and she’s beautiful and all of the celebrities and the fashion magazines and the hair ads leading you to believe that your shampoo, your conditioner, and your styling products can make your hair straight and not frizzy.
00:04:02 And while products are important, there is no way that they have anything to do with the end results you will get in terms of wanting to have straight hair. All of the products - and, I mean, I can say unequivocally without exception, expensive does not mean better in the world of hair care. It’s a sucker’s bet, unless it’s some specialty product, to spend more than $10 on a hair care styling product.
00:04:29 It’s ridiculous. It’s absurd. And even then you’re probably overspending. But, the product, no matter how much you think you’re spending, you can wash your hair with it, you can style, put the styling product on, and without the right styling tools and technique you ain’t gonna have straight hair. It’s just not going to look the way you want. And that is the major thing I see is women hoping to buy the right styling product, the right shampoo and conditioner combination that will give them straight hair.
Nathan Rivas: Magically without, you know, without a heat-styling tool it is just not possible.
Paula Begoun: Actually, the other thing I think, and I’m guilty of this.
00:05:13 In fact, when I first started being successful in life and earning a living, the first thing I splurged on was having someone else do my hair. I have a lot of hair. I have long hair. I have very thick hair. It’s actually at this age of my life it’s actually thinner now than it’s ever been, but it’s still thick, heavy hair. I’ve always had thick heavy hair.
00:05:40 And it’s a lot to get through. You know, the thinner your hair, the easier it is because you don’t have that many hairs to have to style, but the thicker, and heavier and frizzier your hair is naturally, or if you dye your hair, extreme changes in hair color can make hair be frizzier and less manageable. But without question, time.
00:06:02 You simply, the denser your hair, the thicker your hair, if you don’t take time - let’s say you have the right flat iron, and we’ll talk about that in a second, and let’s say you have the right round brush and blow dryer. If you don’t take the time to do your hair in very small painstaking sections, that’s what your hairstylist is doing, that’s what they’re taking their time doing that you don’t want to take the time to do because it feels like it’s taking half your life to get your hair done.
00:06:40 But it is the small sections and doing it repeatedly over that small section that gets the best results. I am never patient enough. I always think, well, I could take a bigger swatch. You can never take a bigger swatch and get the same results that you love that what your hairstylist can give you.
Nathan Rivas: That’s a good point.
00:07:03 Yeah, on Facebook that is something that I’ve seen, you know, when we explain the steps of - kind of the basic steps of getting good results from your styling tools and your styling products with straightening hair. We see that, “Oh, and I don’t want to take the time to do it. Do you have a faster way to straighten my hair?”
Paula Begoun: Nope. Uh-uh.
Nathan Rivas: It’s just that is another big point is that not only is there the scale element, but then how much time are these women really putting into straightening their hair. And sometimes it seems like even if they’re putting a lot of time into it, it’s not as much time as they think to get the results that they want.
Paula Begoun: Right.
00:07:34 It always takes longer. So the best news is it doesn’t have to be expensive. It absolutely doesn’t have to be expensive when it comes to the styling products and the shampoo and conditioner you use. However, what you do have to do is spend the time, to section the hair into small sections to get the results. So, let’s talk about the tools. First of all, silicone serums are probably one of the most important things, or silicone sprays are probably one of the most important styling product.
00:08:10 Some product, whether it’s a lotion, or a serum, or a spray, with some amount of silicone in it to put over your hair to protect it from heat. Now, it minimally protects from heat. Like you can’t put silicone on your skin and even begin to think you’re going to get that heat from your flat iron on your skin and be protected.
00:08:34 But, to some extent because it helps the flat iron and the brush move over the hair quickly, because you got to keep it moving or you will burn the hair, but it helps the movement of what you’re using and it does deflect some amount of the heat from the styling tools you’re using. Plus, it just makes it move better over the hair. But you need a flat iron with high heat and you need a blow dryer with high heat.
00:09:01 A blow dryer has to be 1875 watts and a flat iron has to heat up to at least 400 degrees. That’s hot. I know that’s hot. It’s well past boiling. Boiling, and I’m talking Fahrenheit now, is 212 Fahrenheit. So, when we’re looking at 400 degrees it’s hot, but if it isn’t hot enough you won’t get straight hair.
00:09:31 So, the blow dryer has to blow hot, the heat has to be directly on the hair. You can’t do it from a distance. You’ve got to keep the heat moving over the hair. You don’t want to concentrate it in one place at one time. Those are the basic tools and then the basic technique. When you’re using a blow dryer, you want to get the hair dry to the point of where it is slightly damp, not dry, slightly damp - I’m sorry, not dripping wet but not so dry where it’s starting to look frizzy.
00:10:06 And then you would use your round brush and your blow dryer. With a flat iron, your hair has to be bone dry. Now, you can round brush it first to get control and movement and lift at the root, but before you touch that flat iron to your hair it has to be absolutely bone dry.
Nathan Rivas: Why is that?
Paula Begoun: Interesting thing about hair - hair, when it’s healthy, is somewhere around 30, 40% moisture content. It’s got water in there. When you put that flat iron and it’s soaking wet, so it’s at 100% water content, the flat iron actually causes the hair, the water that’s absorbed into the hair, to boil.
00:11:00 Literally boil. And at each boil point can cause a break. It actually causes hair to boil, and thereby break. It’s bad for hair. You can get a lot of damage if you try to flat iron even damp hair, because you would still have about 20, 30% moisture content in the hair. That boil point is going to cause you problems.
Nathan Rivas: So no short cuts. No short cuts!
Paula Begoun: No pun…I love, you’re doing good puns today.
00:11:27 So, let’s do the flat iron route because the flat iron route is in some ways the easiest and the - I hate to say fast because it isn’t fast, because here you’ve washed your hair. You’ve gotten it bone dry. That took some amount of time. And then what you want to do is you want to start doing the sections just the way you see your hair stylist do. You separate out the different parts of your hair and you get it down to the thinnest layer and then you start straightening it with the flat iron.
00:12:02 The trick is to take that small section and go over it quickly with the flat iron at least four to five times, especially if you have thick, dense hair, at least four to five times. The finer, thinner hair you could probably get away two or three times. But it is the running of the heat over the hair that’s going to give you the most long-lasting straightening of the hair.
00:12:33 The other trick is if you also want volume and it’s a little tricky to talk about this on the radio, but you want to lift up the hair against the grain, apply the flat iron near the root going upwards, and then slightly curve around and move the flat iron down and along the hair. So, you want to get some lift at the base. Now, you can do that with your blow dryer first.
00:13:00 So, when you’re getting your hair dry enough to be able to use the flat iron, when you blow dry your hair you lift the hair up at the root and get that blow dryer up against underneath the root and blow against the grain of the hair and that will also get you lift before you start doing the flat iron. So, I’m sorry, I just was carrying on.
Nathan Rivas: No, I was actually just going to ask, in terms of choosing a flat iron, you know, there are multiple sizes of flat irons.
00:13:32 Some of them have like the fairly large plates, others have more of the longer, thinner, rectangular plates. Do you have - what works best for someone in terms of just being like a novice hair straightener and being fairly new at using a flat iron?
Paula Begoun: I think if you have fine, thin hair, the larger plates are fine. The problem with the larger plates, and one of the reasons you rarely see hair stylists use them, is because you tend to think that you can get bigger sections of hair in it because they’re bigger, so they’ll take on more hair.
00:14:05 You tend to put in too much, it’s too thick, It’s hard to control a whole big section of thick hair like that. It’s not a bad thing if you have finer or thinner hair. It tends to be problematic the thicker/denser your hair is, again, which is one of the reasons why you don’t see hair stylists using the bigger ones very often.
00:14:27 But that then really does come down to technique. What I can say is that it doesn’t have to be expensive. We haven’t recently tested flat irons, but in the past having tested flat irons we never saw a difference between expensive ones and inexpensive ones. Generally you want to lean towards the ones that are ceramic, not because there is some special property to being ceramic. It’s just easier on the hair, it smoothes over the hair better. You get less sticking with ceramic faced flat irons. And as it turns out, most flat irons nowadays are ceramic.
00:15:02 The Tourmaline flat irons that say they have crushed Tourmaline, a gemstone, and something with ions. I don’t even want to get into the physiology of that idiocy. It absolutely is not going to make one iota of a difference in your hair. Even if they really did put enough gemstones, crushed gemstones in there to make a difference, it would be a fortune. I mean, you would want to wear your flat iron, not use it.
00:15:30 So, I mean, either way if you want to use a Tourmaline one, that’s fine. The major thing is how hot that flat iron gets. Now, it can get too hot. I should mention that. I bought a flat iron fairly recently. I travel a lot internationally and I get frustrated having to guess which country I need which wattage of, you know, 110 versus 220.
00:16:01 But a lot of electronics nowadays actually without you knowing it, regardless of where you plug it in, it transfers automatically. So, for example, your laptop, whether you plug it into a 220 plug outlet in Europe or a 100 here in Seattle or Taiwan, it’s going to change automatically. You’re not going to blow out your computer or your phone. But flat irons are a whole other story. So, I was able to find, and there are several now actually on the market where it doesn’t matter where I plug it in.
00:16:35 It automatically knows to change to 220 or 110. It also gets up to 450 degrees of heat. Don’t do that. Actually, it’s the first time I’ve ever lowered the heat on my flat iron. I do think you can make it too hot. So, that’s one of those balancing acts that takes some amount of experimenting for yourself as to how hot is too hot and how cool or not so hot doesn’t get you the results you want.
00:17:05 But 400 is pretty much what most stylists are using their flat irons at and it’s pretty much what you want. And by the way, when you’re at your stylist and your hair is - you see the smoke coming off your hair, or you’re doing it at home, sometimes it’s because they have gone too hot, but it’s more that whatever product is on the hair, whatever slight moisture is left is steaming off.
00:17:32 You’re not getting combustion.
Nathan Rivas: Your hair is not melting.
Paula Begoun: No. No. You’re not getting combustion. So, what I want to - I don’t want to lose my train of thought - oh, so, and I did say that the blow dryer had to 1875. Use small sections. Oh, I don’t want to forget what I was going to say! Yup, I lost it. No, I didn’t. Okay, so, one of the ways that you can cheat to get things done when you’re in a hurry is to concentrate on the front of your hair, which is what I often do when I’m doing it myself, versus the back of your hair.
00:18:08 I really care about how people are going to see me. You know, I love when hair stylists hand me the mirror to look at my hair in the back and I’m thinking, “I don’t care what I look like from the back. I ain’t gonna see that!” I care about how it looks in the front. So, I’ll spend far more time doing the front of my hair and then I cheat and take bigger sections, and of course, it doesn’t quite look as good as the front of the hair.
00:18:30 But when I don’t have quite the amount of time, because it’s a lot of hair to get through to make look decent with a flat iron. So, concentrate on the parts of your hair you care about more and that will be a good way to get it done a little faster because you’ve left the part out that you’re not going to see as much as other people, except when you turn around you’ll be stunning.
Nathan Rivas: Do as we say, not as we do situation!
Paula Begoun: Well, time is time.
00:19:02 And if I only have, because it can take me when I’m doing my, well, even a hairstylist can take between 30 and 45 minutes to style my hair, sometime longer. And if I’m trying to just get it down to 20. I know, look at you with the short hair.
Nathan Rivas: If it take a hairstylist that long I’m just thinking of how could we possibly expect to get it done even faster. And we don’t do it all day long!
Paula Begoun: And we try. And we try. So, yes, so I’ll cheat a little bit and do the front of my hair and then try to get away with being less diligent about the back of my hair.
Nathan Rivas: One question we do get a lot, I know we mentioned this briefly at the beginning of the show, but in terms of shampooing and conditioning before you start your straightening process, it doesn’t really make a difference in terms of what type of shampoo and conditioner you use in terms of its effect on your straightening results. It’s just what’s best for your particular hair type.
Paula Begoun: Exactly.
Nathan Rivas: And then everything really starts once you get out of the shower and you towel dry your hair.
00:20:02 And that’s when the action begins.
Paula Begoun: Right. The styling products you choose, not too stiff, not too greasy, not too heavy if you have fine, thin hair, not too oily or too heavy and greasy if you have thicker hair. Right, it’s the styling products that you choose and then the technique with the flat iron and the blow dryer. And then also high enough heat. Don’t be afraid of the heat because it’s the high heat that can reshape the hair.
00:20:33 Hair won’t reshape at a low heat level. You just can’t get the control.
Nathan Rivas: What do you use for your straightening products, for your styling products?
Paula Begoun: Well, I’m rather low maintenance when it comes to styling products because I just use a silicone serum. I don’t like lotions and creams in my hair. For me, I feel that they just make my hair heavy, so I prefer just a very - I use a very small amount of silicon serum and just on the ends of my hair.
00:21:01 I don’t put anything on the length of my - near my scalp, because for me personally what I find is that it weighs my hair down and I’m looking to get full hair, as full as I can get it, which isn’t easy when you have heavy hair.
Nathan Rivas: Well, it’s interesting because you say you use just a small amount and you have a lot of hair. Your hair is very thick. So people oftentimes would probably use too much silicone serum in terms of when they complain that their hair doesn’t get as full or as full bodied as they would like.
Paula Begoun: You can definitely overdo.
00:21:35 Often my hair stylist say, “Well I can I put some volumizing product at the root of your hair?” And I go, no, don’t do that. The weight of that acrylic - I mean, it’s great, but I go as long as possible without washing my hair, so it might look nice for maybe a day, but then in the long run you just added a weight onto your hair at it will flatten it and make it stiff.
00:22:03 I also like being able to get my fingers through my hair. I don’t like getting stuck in my hair. So, I tend to just use silicone serum. I don’t even use hairspray. I like when my hair moves and has a lot of bounce to it. And I find that that just doesn’t happen when I use heavier or - it’s not really heavy is the right word, but holding products, products that have film form or hair spray like ingredients.
00:22:30 So, but it doesn’t mean you can’t work with styling lotions and styling creams. Those work for some people and they like the more hold that they get. And that’s always one about experimenting, but experiment with the cheap products because the expensive ones aren’t going to do any better for you. And it really does take experimenting to see what style of product a lotion, a serum, a lightweight silicone serum spray gets you the best results with your blow dryer or flat iron or blow dryer and brush.
Nathan Rivas: In terms of expensive versus inexpensive, I cannot tell you how often we get that question when it comes to hair care products. And it’s truly, truly amazing to see the comparison between a brand like L’Oreal who owns brands like Kerastase and Garnier. And you can see almost exact repetitions of Kerastase formulas in L’Oreal products, in Garnier Fructis products, just products that just $4.95, $5.95, versus the nearly exact same product in Kerastase that’s ten times the cost.
00:23:39 it’s truly remarkable. So, absolutely, there’s no reason at all you need to start experimenting with something that costs as much as going out to dinner.
Paula Begoun: When I see women at the hair salon buying expensive products, I have everything I can do to keep from saying, “You cannot be that stupid. Please tell…” And then I think, oh wait, I shouldn’t probably even say that out loud.
00:24:06 I find it, you know, smart women, stupid choices. For whatever reason, you know, and some of it is you’re turning to your stylist to take care of your hair and he or she is making your hair magnificent. And, well, it must have something to do with their products when the truth is it has everything to do with their skill and nothing to do with -
00:24:28 Now, it could be the kind of product they’re using for you. They’re using a hairspray or a styling lotion that’s lighter than the one you have. It doesn’t mean the line, the inexpensive line that you might be using, you might be using one that has more hold and they have another one that has lighter hold and you just didn’t know that. But we’ve all bought expensive products from hair care companies that didn’t work, too.
00:24:57 And actually nowadays, in fact, we stopped writing - although I know Bryan has said we get asked all the time and you tell me, Nathan, all the time that people ask about why we don’t do another hair care book - because it’s hard to find a bad hair care product.
Nathan Rivas: It is.
Paula Begoun: The claim on the label might be bogus. It might say it’s for dry hair but it’s really not so good for dry hair, so the claim might be wrong. But the days of using hairsprays that are going to flake up and look all, you know, powdery and filmy, or you won’t be able to get your brush through it, or sticky, or give you a feeling of matted hair.
00:25:38 Those days are long gone. So, it’s boring to say this product is good, this product is great, this product is good, this product is great. It’s exhausting. Bryan, I think we gave up - Bryan, when did we write our last hair care book? Because we’ve been getting complaints ever since we stopped.
Bryan Barron: We wrote the last edition of the book in 2004, so nine years ago.
00:26:04 But for a time we had hair care products reviewed on Beautypedia. And we took the hair care products off of Beautypedia when we realized that in order to keep up this momentum we would have to review a lot more hair care products.
Paula Begoun: It’s a wormhole.
Bryan Barron: Very much.
Paula Begoun: It’s a wormhole, yeah.
Nathan Rivas: There are so - as we mentioned - they’re so alike.
00:26:27 There is really only a small group of ingredients that are used in pretty much all hair care formulas in varying amounts. And as you mentioned, it’s really hard to find a bad hair care product. Maybe one that doesn’t fit you, but it’s not a bad product.
Paula Begoun: And actually do you think that Moroccan hair care oil thing, has that kind of calmed down, Argan oil? I know that was out there for awhile. Have those calmed down, or do we still get questions about that?
Nathan Rivas: It’s not at the fervor as it was previously, but we still do get questions. It’s pretty much now it’s saturated, I think, for the most part.
Paula Begoun: Oh, you are really with the puns today!
00:27:01 You are just a punner today. So, yes, a punner today. So, yes, saturated with Argan oil and Moroccan oil, I guess.
Nathan Rivas: Yeah. So we do get the questions from time to time, but really it’s nothing that’s as crazed as it was before, and it’s really along the lines of does it help protect hair from heat. And then we say, well, if you coat your vegetables in olive oil before you sauté them, do you do that to protect them from the heat of the pan? No. It’s -
Paula Begoun: Oh, I love - oh, I didn’t you used that. That’s a good - I have to use that one.
00:27:30 All right, that’s a great response. I think that, I do think that the Moroccan oil thing was relatively short lived. And I knew it would be. Oil on hair is just nowhere near as wonderful feeling as silicone oil. I don’t know what made people think that women in the Middle East had great hair because they used Moroccan oil. I mean, however that myth got going is just bizarre. But, we like to believe that there must be a magic bullet out there.
00:28:05 Some magic ingredient that’s going to do it all and doesn’t work in skincare.
Nathan Rivas: It’s always from some far off place.
Paula Begoun: Yes, one that you haven’t been to so you don’t really know what the women’s hair actually look like.
Nathan Rivas: Exactly.
Paula Begoun: But in all due respect to women anywhere, the truth is that there isn’t a miracle ingredient. You can’t repair hair. Hair is dead. You can make it feel great.
00:28:29 You can make it feel repaired, but you cannot repair it. And, please, expensive doesn’t mean better. Get the best hair stylist. Splurge on the most talented hairstylist in the city you’re in and buy the cheap products. Lie to them. Lie. I’ve recommended this for years. When the stylist says, “So, what are you using?” Point to the most expensive products on their shelf and say, “Oh, I’m using that.” And then all of a sudden you have beautiful hair.
00:28:58 “Oh, do you need more of that?” They’re going to leave you alone. Don’t tell them you’re using the drugstore stuff, because then all of a sudden you have bad hair.
Nathan Rivas: “Oh, we clean our floors with that.”
Paula Begoun: Oh, please. Yes, okay, let’s talk to people on Facebook. Let’s answer some questions. Nathan, what do you got for us?
Nathan Rivas: So, a few questions. One question from Victoria. She had the - her problem is around waxing and breakouts.
00:29:25 “No matter when I wax anything on my face I breakout in that area the next day, particularly around my eyebrows and upper lip. I cleanse immediately afterward, or at least tone in hopes of closing my pores to lessen exposure to bacteria. It just doesn’t seem to help. Is there something I’m doing wrong?”
Paula Begoun: Well, first of all, it’s not open pores that’s the problem. It’s the heat, and I take it if she’s using wax then she’s probably using traditional making wax hot, putting it on the lip and then the brow and ripping off the hair.
00:30:03 And it is the irritation from the ripping and it is the irritation from the heat that is causing an irritant breakout response. So, the best thing she can do, separate from considering laser hair removal, which I would strongly recommend, especially for the lip area so you don’t have to - because first of all when you wax you’ve got to wait till you have some hair there before you can wax, so you got hair sitting out on your face when laser hair removal is a brilliant way, especially when it’s well done by somebody who knows what they’re doing to get rid of facial hair, unwanted facial hair.
00:30:42 But then what you really need to do is calm down the skin immediately after the waxing, either with a cool compress, that could help a lot to reduce the inflammation from the heat and the ripping. And then also an anti-inflammatory product. We have one from Paula’s Choice whose name I know you’re going to remember and I’m not.
Nathan Rivas: The Clinical Instant Calm.
Paula Begoun: So, that is on our website at
00:31:08 So, what I would do first is I would cool it down with indirect cooling, meaning that you can put some ice cubes or a bag of peas, frozen peas, on a cloth and put that next to your skin for a period of time, say about five minutes to reduce the heat that’s built up in the skin and from the ripping, and then put on the Instant Calm. And I think you will see far less problems than you’re experiencing now.
Nathan Rivas: And why don’t we want to put ice directly onto our skin?
Paula Begoun: Well, ice is pretty irritating. It’s freezing, right?
00:31:42 Things get damaged when they get frozen. So, the risk with skin is that you would freeze it. Now, there are some injuries where putting direct ice on is needed, so I don’t want to speak to that situation. I know that when I broke my nose last year that I stuck my face in a bucket of ice.
Nathan Rivas: Oh my gosh.
Paula Begoun: Because I needed it to be cold and just really measured how long I had my face - my nose - in a bucket of ice.
00:32:15 Oh my god, that was so terrible. But as a rule, direct contact with ice freezes skin and that’s what you want to avoid is freezing skin, because then you just got a different kind of damage going on.
Nathan Rivas: Actually, one timely question on the topic of today, Saida had the question of how many times a week is it safe to use a flat iron?
Paula Begoun: Oh, I’ve seen that question about don’t do it every day. So, okay, I just saw this in some fashion magazine website I was looking at. You want to style your hair with flat irons, and blow dryers, and round brushes as infrequently as possible.
00:33:05 There is no question that heat, over-brushing your hair - you know, in the old days, I don’t know, maybe more than 50 years ago it used to be believed that brushing your hair repeatedly.
Nathan Rivas: 100 times.
Paula Begoun: Or maybe it wasn’t so long ago! 100 times a day.
Nathan Rivas: Nick and Nite.
Paula Begoun: Oh, okay, so it is from a long time ago. Would be healthier for your hair.
00:33:30 Any kind of hair manipulation, even just towel drying your hair damages your hair. Brushing it - every brush stroke chips away at the hair’s protective outer layer. And heat is damaging. There is no question about it. Shampooing is damaging. Getting your hair wet and drying it is damaging. The less you manipulate your hair, the better. So, there is some truth to doing it as infrequently as possible. So, how I do my hair, and it used to be harder when I was younger and had an oilier scalp. My scalp isn’t quite as oily as it used to be, so I can go longer periods of time between washing my hair.
00:34:12 But I’ll do one big styling after I wash and shampoo my hair and then I’ll try to go at least three to five days before I do a whole big styling thing again. And then between those time of shampooing my hair once every three to five days then I’ll touch up my hair and just gently, and just in areas where it’s gotten a little, you know, kinked out, smooth my hair back down with a flat iron.
00:34:40 So, it’s really about the amount of usage. So, I wash my hair about every three to five days, one big styling process where I’m going over everything with the blow dryer to get it dry and then the flat iron. And then just do touchups in between, you know, little touchups. And then once again whenever I wash my hair again.
00:35:05 So, the idea is to, yes, to do it as infrequently as possible. But that’s everything. That’s not just using a flat iron. That’s also using a blow dryer or brushing your hair. The more you manipulate your hair, the more you interact with your hair, the more damaging it is.
Nathan Rivas: And how much time - do we have time for another question?
Paula Begoun: Sure!
Nathan Rivas: Okay, great.
00:35:27 One question we actually had, looks like a couple times, this one is from Catherine. And her question was around her midday workouts. So, if she goes to the gym in the middle of the day, she gets all sweaty, then she takes a shower. She wants to know how does that fit into her overall skincare routine. Does she have to repeat her whole entire skincare routine in the middle of the day, or after cleansing can she just go with a toner? What about her BHA? What about her serum? What about all of those sorts of after steps.
Paula Begoun: Oh, that’s an interesting question.
00:36:01 So, I’m of two minds, because the real answer is how would her skin do depending on what she chooses. So, my initial reaction is to say if you wash your face then you’ve got to repeat everything. However, I probably would drop out the BHA and the AHA. I wouldn’t reapply that. I’m assuming she’s washing her face - I have to say in the days when I was more actively, well even today, when I work out, I don’t necessarily wash my face.
00:36:35 I might towel off or damp off, but I don’t wash my face because I am not putting on my makeup. I don’t have time to get back to life after a workout. So, I would just damp off and touch up my makeup. But if you’re taking a shower and washing your face, then yeah, cleanser, toner. You would have to put moisturizer on if you have dry skin. If you don’t have dry skin you can just use your toner. That’s what I do.
00:37:01 And then I put my moisturizer around my eye. You’re going to have to reapply your sunscreen, so if it’s in your foundation. You’ve got to reapply. Probably the major thing you can drop out is probably your AHA/BHA, because putting that on more than once or twice a day is really overdoing it. I think that wouldn’t be so good for your skin. But, pretty much I think I would err on the side of reapplying everything.
00:37:27 I don’t know that I would drop out the serum, but you can experiment with that, but definitely you have to reapply your cleanser and your sunscreen. And, I wouldn’t reapply the AHA or BHA.
Nathan Rivas: Great.
Paula Begoun: One more question before we’re done?
Nathan Rivas: Absolutely. So, how does someone know, this is from Kimberley, how does someone know if they’re over-exfoliating their skin. She has combination to dry skin with mild Rosacea. Sometimes the BHA doesn’t seem to do much of anything. But then other times it seems to help. So, it kind of seems like we have two different questions there. The first one is how does someone know if they’re over-exfoliating their skin.
00:38:02 And the other side of that question is it seems like BHA helps her at some points and other times doesn’t really seem to do much of anything. That’s kind of all the information we have, so.
Paula Begoun: Well, it’s hard to, you know, over-exfoliate is a funny term.
Nathan Rivas: Right to the bone.
Paula Begoun: Because really what can be happening when you use an AHA or BHA, it’s not so much that you’re over-exfoliating is that you’re getting irritated by it. That you have overdone it.
00:38:34 It’s not like you’re getting down to where you’re bleeding, but that your stratum corneum, you’ve come to a point where you’re actually maybe damaging the barrier because you’ve used too much. So, the way you would know is your skin wouldn’t be happy. It would start flaking. It would look red and irritated. It wouldn’t look smooth and soft. The result of using an AHA or a BHA should be soft, smoother looking skin, less blackheads, less blemishes.
00:39:01 If that’s not what’s happening, that’s a problem. But by saying that sometimes you don’t see any difference is sometimes your skin is just at a good level and that’s great. It’s always hard to know when somebody says I don’t see anything, I’m often thinking, well, what is it that you wanted to see that you didn’t see at another time? And it could be menstrual cycles. It could be weather changes. It could be you didn’t wash your makeup off that night. I mean, we do different things that can affect what reactions we get to the products we use.
00:39:38 So, your skin will tell you pretty clearly when you’re overdoing something. But as a general rule, you definitely should only be using an exfoliant once or twice a day. If your skin isn’t happy at once or twice or day, every other day. So, you do want to pay attention to how your skin is reacting. And then what was her other question?
Nathan Rivas: Her other question is that sometimes it seems that her BHA seems to help with her Rosacea.
Paula Begoun: Oh, I did just say -
Nathan Rivas: And you pretty much actually just addressed that.
00:40:09 And sometimes I think that some people haven’t given a product enough time to really get to the results. Because we hear from some customers who say, “Oh, I have these fine lines and I purchased your retinol serum and I’ve been using it and I’m not seeing the results I want.” And we ask, well how long have you been using it? And they say, “Oh, a month.”
00:40:26 It’s like you didn’t get this condition overnight or in a couple of weeks and it’s certainly not going to go away in that time, maybe even ten times that time.
Paula Begoun: Well, I think that what the immediate, you know, some of it is when you use an AHA or a BHA you can get such a nice immediate response, but retinol doesn’t work and antioxidants don’t quite work and sunscreens don’t quite work in that kind of an immediate way. It is more of a long-term relationship with overall improvement.
00:40:58 And it’s not about erasing them, it’s about making them look better. And, yes, retinol, products with antioxidants, and sunscreen is about long-term results of seeing benefit. In terms of the Rosacea question with BHA, sometimes you get triggered. Rosacea is a very, very tricky disorder and stress, and emotions, and heat, and - I don’t know, things that are just pretty random in life, something you ate, you got near cigarette smoke, you had a drink the night before can trigger your Rosacea.
00:41:36 So, it’s not that the BHA isn’t working, it’s that you could be getting an exacerbation, that the BHA will help calm down, but the BHA isn’t a cure. It didn’t cure your Rosacea. It keeps it at bay and it can still get triggered. You still have to be very good about paying attention to what triggers your Rosacea from taking place.
Nathan Rivas: So about management.
Paula Begoun: It’s management.
Nathan Rivas: And I think that people forget that.
00:42:02 A lot of these kind of constant conditions, like acne for example, or Rosacea, it’s management. Even us, sometimes, we’ll still get that kind of occasional breakout.
Paula Begoun: As I’m struggling with one right now. Right, it isn’t about a cure, it’s about -
Nathan Rivas: Is that why you’ve been covering half your face throughout the whole show? The Phantom of the Opera mask?
Paula Begoun: You know, I got to tell you when people say, you know, “Well, I’m a certain age, why am I still breaking out?” It’s because you can break out at any age.
00:42:32 And sitting over here at 60, I am still breaking out. It is about management. There just isn’t a cure. You can outgrow it, but obviously I’m not one of those and millions of women don’t outgrow it. And especially Rosacea. Rosacea really isn’t - there isn’t a cure. It really is about management. So, my guess, what I suspect is that she got a flare up and then she needed to, you know, keep up with the maintenance and then the BHA calmed it down again and then she saw a benefit and then she went a period of time without a flare up.
00:43:06 And so it’s a combination, especially when there are surface capillaries; those are particularly difficult to deal with. So, we’ve answered a lot of questions. We’ve talked about hair straightening. I don’t have a voice left. I love being with Nathan, my social media community manager and overall resident wonderful guy. Knows so much about skincare and makeup and hair care. You have to visit him on our Facebook page. I’m Paula Begoun, the Cosmetics Cop, and we are here keeping you beautifully informed.
00:43:40 Nathan keeps you beautifully informed on Facebook all the time. We love talking with you. We love answering your questions. Stay listening. Come visit us at
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