NL WOMAN: The perils of hair straighteners

Hair straighteners can reach temperatures of 200 degrees celsius
Hair straighteners can reach temperatures of 200 degrees celsius

Can’t live without your hair straighteners? Just make sure smooth locks - and not singed skin, a la Cheryl Fernandez-Versini - is all they leave you with

Once upon a time, it was all about the big, heated rollers, and then came the glorious crimpers (as children of the Eighties will remember).

Tongs and straighteners are the heated hair-styling stalwarts today, of course, and it seems they’ve been getting hotter and hotter over the years, now reaching temperatures scorching enough to fry an egg - and that extreme heat can also fry your foot, as Cheryl Fernandez-Versini is all-too painfully aware.

The X Factor judge recently revealed she’d burned her foot in a hair-raising encounter with her heated hair appliance (“I stood on a hair tong this morning and I burnt the bottom of me foot,” she admitted).

Cheryl described the injury as “embarrassing”, but heated hair appliances are actually a fairly common cause of burns, and even house fires.

Here’s our guide to making sure your straighteners are a danger-free zone.


The truth is, injuries caused by heated hair appliances, like tongs and straighteners, are no laughing matter. Hair straighteners can reach temperatures in excess of 200 degrees, and can take as long as 40 minutes to cool down. Horrific burn injuries can occur very quickly - and most of these are suffered by children.

Children’s skin can be 15 times thinner than adults, and research has found that babies and toddlers aged between one and three years are most at risk from burns from straighteners and tongs.

A study led by Cardiff University last year found that hot hair straighteners are responsible for nearly one in 20 cases where children need hospital treatment for burns. The authors of the research noted that hair straighteners were often left on the floor.


The most common location for a serious hair straightener burn is on the hand, but injuries have also been sustained to the head, arm and foot. Such burns can leave scarring and may even need skin grafts, and can reach tendons within seconds, possibly resulting in victims’ fingers being permanently curled over.


There’s also a danger of house fires being started by heated hair appliances left unattended. Putting the implements into heat-proof storage pouches after use can help reduce the danger. Plus, while their hot, never leave them on or near flammable surfaces.


The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) are hoping to raise awareness of the dangers of heated hair appliances, and show how injuries can be prevented.

Ashley Martin, public health project manager for RoSPA, says: “It doesn’t always take a flame to burn. We know hair straighteners can cause horrific burn injuries as they reach temperatures in excess of 200 degrees - that’s hot enough to fry an egg - but take as long as 40 minutes to cool down.

“RoSPA is aware of children, in particular, suffering burns, but adults are also at risk of suffering burns from hair straighteners.

“Our advice is to turn hair straighteners off and store them in a heat-resistant bag immediately after use to prevent nasty injuries occurring to yourself or your young ones.”


Switch hair straighteners off after use.

Unplug them straight away.

Slide them into a heat-resistant bag.

Store them out of the sight and reach of children.