Ions & Hair – Do We Really Care?

June 19, 2017

Ions & Hair – Do We Really Care?

1st off, what’s an ion? An ion is an atom that has a mismatch in either protons (positive charge) or electrons (negative charge). When there are more electrons in an atom than protons, you have a negative ion and vice versa. So, what’s up with negative ions in general?

A 2002 post on webmd.com made this note:

“There's something in the air and while it may not be love, some say it's the next best thing -- negative ions.

“Negative ions are odorless, tasteless, and invisible molecules that we inhale in abundance in certain environments. Think mountains, waterfalls, and beaches. Once they reach our bloodstream, negative ions are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy."  source: Webmd

So, on the whole, it appears that negative ions are good guys… They’re created naturally as air molecules break apart due to sunlight, pounding surf or a mountain stream or waterfall. This is what causes that feeling of calm when you are by the sea or in the mountains. The air in those places is said to contain tens of thousands of negative ions – where the air in your office or home may register zero.

The fact that there’s no hard “science” on the effect negative ions have on hair and hair care means there’s a lot of disagreement and opinion on the subject. But we may safely assume that those little buggers are doing something and probably something good…

Now, on the subject of ions and hair care tools (dryers, flat irons, etc.)

The claims made are:

  1. That negative ions break up water particles, making them faster to get rid of, drying hair faster.
  2. They seal the hair cuticle, trapping moisture and making the hair more hydrated and smoother.
  3. That they neutralize static, so reduce or eliminate frizz…

True or False?

Well, I’ve seen stylists claim completely opposite things – that ionic hair dryers don’t do all of that, it’s the product that you put on the hair that does it… or that ionic dryers are the best thing they’ve ever seen. Given the contrary facts, something’s got to give. I decided I’d have to consult my own observation. So, I shrunk myself, climbed down into a head of hair and settled in between some hair shafts and took notes…Here’s what I saw:

negative ions

The pictures below show: from left, normal hair; hair after 100 dryings on maximum heat and speed; hair after 100 dryings on maximum heat and speed with ionic function. source: Which.co.uk.

Am I kidding?

Yes, I am, but only slightly. The photos are real...

But I didn’t shrink myself. Having a few thousand ionic hair dryers sold under my belt and countless emails and customer interactions on the real effects of ionic hair dryers, flat irons and straightening brushes, I have real life 'before and after' experience. I can see that there is some truth to the claims, even if they are actually not totally factual – meaning, that maybe ionic dryers don’t seal the cuticle, but they are doing something. The photo shows that it does less damage to the cuticle.

This is what you see and feel…

Something is happening. 

But, you don’t really need “science” to tell you that you feel better when you sit near the ocean’s pounding waves, or near a waterfall. You don’t need science to tell you if your hair feels smoother and is less frizzy after using X tool. Science definitely can’t tell you if this or that hair dryer is the best you've ever used… right?

Science in those cases, just adds facts to your perception. What science can do is tell you if something is harmful, when your perceptions don’t offer up that data immediately. When science catches up to ions and their effect on hair, you’ll already know what that means for you and your hair.

So, peeling through close to 100 reviews of the 6th Sense Masterpiece Pro Ionic Hair dryer I can summarize the pros and the cons in 2 reviews. Note: there was 1 review in 89 that indicated that the ionic function in particular appears to have let someone down.  Here’s what real people said: (Green text shows the specific point relating to ionic function.)

PRO:

Extremely High Quality!

By Amazon Customer on April 8, 2017

Verified Purchase

I seldom write reviews but thought this would be helpful to others and I often benefit from reviews posted on Amazon. This is by far the best blow dryer I have ever purchased due to light weight, speed of drying, and how shiny it makes my hair (blond, long, medium thickness). Here are the dryers I have used and tested this against. new Dyson dryer (too large for travel and too hot), T3 (no better than drugstore dryer), GHD (also highly recommend but heavy and not ideal for travel), Speed Freak (too hot and too strong left hair fried, lower setting too low to dry quickly). The only styling I do is a blow dryer so quality matters. I do NOT have to use a hot iron if I use this dryer. The other major plus is that this dryer serves as everyday and is as small/light enough to serve as a travel dryer. Just LOVE it. It is only 1600 watt and found that hair more healthy when using compared to 1800 or 2000 watt. Dries my hair just as quickly but with no damage like higher wattage dryers. Another plus, do not have to use as much conditioner due to how shiny it makes my hair. Note: This is the general consensus on the ionic function – that it a) dries hair faster, b) less damage and c) makes hair shinier.

CON:

Not for round brush blow outs! Doesn't get hot.

By OkieGirl on May 3, 2017

Verified Purchase

I have very fine, damaged hair and this blow dryer was recommended for my hair type. I was so excited when it came in today that I washed my hair just so I could try it out. It is super lightweight but that's about all I can say about it. I've already filed a return with Amazon. It doesn't blow hot enough and the lower setting is useless. I kept thinking "Is it defective?" I was constantly changing the settings by accident too. My hair is extremely fine and fragile so all the extra time required to dry it was a big problem. I felt it was causing unnecessary damage because my hair was quite frizzy. I finally put it back in the box and grabbed the one it was meant to replace. I realize I need to be very careful about heat but I need a warmer dryer than this one.

Note: The ionic function may not be for everyone. By my real life survey, a very small number see little to no improvement. 

So, my conclusion?

  1. Negative ions are in general good guys. They do positive stuff for the body overall.
  2. Ionic hair dryers and other hair tools offer and sell “ionic” for good reason – they actually do do something beneficial. I can assure you that with such claims being made by companies, if there was no truth in it, it would be g-o-n-e. Consumers don't take false claims lightly, vote with their dollars and eventually kick fakers out of business.
  3. You have to see for yourself and make your own conclusions. Your own test is the start of science. Any valid science starts with personal observation (Newton and the falling apple… Galileo and his telescope) and investigates further.
  4. Even if science said, “ions are good for your hair but, based on your requirements and value judgement, that ionic dryer was a rip off, does it matter? Or vice-versa – what if science said ions didn't do a thing, but their use left your hair exactly like you wanted it?

I’d say since science is the process of orderly observation and testing, you can start the process on your own and come to conclusions based on your needs and your budget! Voilà!

 





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