What’s the Deal With Infrared Hot Tools?

Every editorial product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn commission.

If you're on TikTok, more specifically, Beauty-Tok, you've probably seen at least one person singing the praises of infrared hair tools. Whether it's a flat iron, a blow dryer, or a hot brush, infrared hot tools have taken over social feeds, and the obsession doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. While it's always fun to test the next big thing — from beauty tools to hair trends — it's always good to do your own research before diving in headfirst.

Quite a few people have claimed that infrared hair tools don't cause any heat damage to your hair, unlike regular styling tools. It sounds a little too good to be true, but is it possible? Infrared technology is often used in saunas and even some skin-care tools, like LED face masks, but its uses for hair are still very new.

Ahead, we chat with some hair-care experts who answer all of your burning questions about infrared hair tools, including what they are, how they work, and whether or not they're actually good for your hair.

What Are Infrared Hair Tools?

So, what even are infrared hot tools? "Infrared hair tools use infrared technology to emit gentle heat that penetrates the hair shaft, helping to style hair without causing excessive damage," Adam Federico, R+Co vice president of technical education, tells PS. While traditional hot tools like flat irons and blow dryers use ceramic plates or metal coils to produce heat, which is then transferred to the hair through direct contact, infrared hair tools emit infrared radiation, which penetrates the hair shaft directly.

"The infrared light wavelength penetrates the hair shaft and heats it evenly from the inside out," Gretchen Friese, BosleyMD trichologist, says. "The electromagnetic waves enter the hair's cortex while the heat from the tool works on closing the hair's cuticle." So, there's some merit to the claims all over TikTok, but it's important to note that even infrared tools still cause some damage to the hair — at least compared to air-drying, which is the best for hair health.

A popular infrared round brush is the BondiBoost Infrared Bounce Brush ($98), which is an editor-favorite, while a top-rated infrared straightener is the Silk'n SilkyStraight ($189).

Benefits of Infrared Hair Tools

Infrared hair tools have quite a few benefits, especially when compared to traditional hot tools, but they can be broken down into two simple categories: styling time and hair health. "They tend to cause less damage to the hair because they work more gently and efficiently, requiring lower temperatures to achieve the same results," Federico says. Since infrared radiation penetrates the hair shaft, heating it from the inside out, you can often save time during your styling routine, which in turn reduces the amount of time your hair is exposed to heat. It also helps to heat the hair evenly, whereas traditional styling tools aren't as precise.

If you deal with a lot of frizz or static, infrared hot tools can help you with that as well. "The infrared heat helps to seal moisture in the hair, reducing frizz and leaving hair looking healthier and shinier," Federico says. Using an infrared hot tool allows your hair to retain moisture, whereas typical hot tools can do the opposite, essentially stripping moisture from the hair.

How to Use Infrared Hot Tools

You don't use infrared hair tools any differently than other heat-styling tools. However, it's important to note that infrared hair tools aren't completely heat-free, so you should always use a heat-protectant when styling your hair. Our current favorite is the Dry Bar Hot Toddy Heat Protectant Mist Coconut Colada Scent ($29).

If you prefer products you can spritz directly into wet hair, we'd suggest using a leave-in conditioner after cleansing that has heat protectant included. "I love Divi's 3-in-1 Leave-In Conditioner ($26) because there isn't a greasy residue left on hair and it has amazing detangling power," trichologist Angela Onuoha says. "A smoother surface to work with results in smoother results during and after styling. Divi's formula is able to protect the hair up to 450°F, which is a must when it comes to using heat tools."

"I always tell my clients they need to use a good shampoo, conditioner, and hair mask - even if they use no heat at all," Friese says. "Things like hair color, the sun, arid weather, and just the elements we are exposed to can all affect our hair health." Because of this, it's important to choose products that are formulated specifically for your hair type and texture — that includes taking into account whether or not your hair is color-treated. Federico recommends using the R+Co DALLAS Biotin Thickening Shampoo ($38) for fine hair and the R+Co BEL AIR Smoothing Shampoo + Anti-Oxidant Complex ($34) for frizzy thick hair.

TL;DR: any form of heat styling can cause damage to your hair, but infrared hot tools are a good alternative to traditional hot tools.

Renee Rodriguez is a staff writer and social producer for PS. She writes across all verticals, but her main areas of expertise focus on fashion and beauty content with an emphasis on reviews and editor experiments. She also produces social content for POPSUGAR's TikTok and Instagram accounts.