Hot styling is much more common these days than wet styling is, and so it is has never been more important to take certain precautions to keep your hair healthy. This is because hot styling is very hard on your hair. The effects are quite noticeable over time, and it's not good. You will find your hair is significantly drier, is brittle, lacks shine, and has trouble holding colour. Eventually it will break off. It's not just the split ends you have to worry about! A tell-tale sign of heat damage (especially from over-using flat irons) are little white nodules decorating the hairstrands like beads on a rosary. I'm not talking about nits from lice; these nodules are much smaller and flatter. In actuality, they are the weak points from which your hair will break.
So, how do you prevent this from happening?? The most obvious answer is to hot tool less often. Exactly how often depends on your hair type and texture, as well as length. On average once a week or less is ideal, but ask your stylist for a personalized recommendation. In an effort to hot tool less often, one must become adventurous and experiment. Practice braidstyles and buns. Try twisting or braiding wet hair and take it out when dry for "safe" waves. If your hair is short, don't be afraid to use a heavier wax or pomade on heat-free days and/or embrace the messy, textured look.
The next step is to protect your hair as much as possible while hot styling, and constantly replace the moisture that is lost.
We have two very light sprays that are thermal protectants (the Bamboo anti-breakage thermal protectant and the Davines Melu hair shield), and two heavier sprays that are also thermal protectants but cream-based (Davines Oi milk and Oligo blowout mist). The latter two deliver more nourishment and moisture. They tend to be more suitable for thick or coarse hair, but really anybody whose hair is particularly dry can use them.
Select the right hot tools! They are most certainly not all made equally. Look for irons that are tourmaline and/or ceramic or titanium. Legit ceramic/titanium plates are better than ceramic-coated, as sooner or later the coating will wear off. These materials prevent friction and tearing up of your hair's cuticle.
Blow-driers that put out negative ions are super cool because they help divide clusters of H2O molecules into smaller bits that dry faster. Irons that also produce negative ions have a somewhat different effect; they lock moisture in. This is what a tourmaline iron does.
Invest in the right tools and products, and then be conservative with how often you use heat to style your hair. The results are sure to impress you, especially if you have really long hair.
Keep it healthy, Saskatoon. I hope this has been helpful!