Blow dryer, straightening irons, curling wands, and hot rollers are an essential element of attaining a beautiful hair style. In fact, many of us use more than one of these high-heat beauty devices on a daily basis.
We all know the classic blowout is an essential part of getting glossy, perfect locks. Unfortunately, over time the very tools we use to make hair look healthy are the same that cause dull, dry hair that doesn’t hold a style and is difficult to grow out.
To help you end this cycle, we’ve gathered some of the best heat protectants for natural hair right here.
What is a Heat Protectant?
You’ve most likely heard of the importance of using a heat protectant from your stylist or have noticed the growing number of products ranging from sprays, creams, milk and mousses that include some protection against heat.
But what exactly is a heat protectant? In short, it's a “sunscreen” for your hair that provides coverage for your strands using a combination of FDA approved silicones.
Silicones act as a thin, heat-resistant coating that covers the hair shaft. Two Silicones, Cyclomethicone, and dimethicone are combined to create heat protectant.
Cyclomethicone deposits in the hair and evaporates quickly to transfer other ingredients in the product (such as oils and nutrients) into the hair shaft to create a smooth, silky feel. Dimethicone, on the other hand, also smooths hair in addition to working as a detangler and shine enhancer.
How Does a Heat Protectant Work?
Now that you understand some of the science behind the ingredients in a heat protectant work let's look at what exactly a heat protectant can do.
It retains the moisture inside your hair. Hair is exposed to many different elements that can cause it to lose valuable moisture every day.
High heat styling tools, dehydration, over exposure to the sun, chlorinated water, and the chemicals used when coloring or chemically straightening hair can all bleach your locks of their natural moisture.
Retaining moisture is a key component of maintaining healthy looking hair. So, it's important to use a heat protectant to preserve the moisture already in your locks.
It makes your hair easier to work with. Heat protection lubricates the surface of your hair, combs and brushes will move through wet locks with less friction. Ultimately, the reduction of pulling, tugging and stretching wet hair will lead to less stress on strands and improved silkiness.
It helps seal the cuticle of your hair to reduce porosity. The porosity of your hair indicates how easily your strands can absorb and retain moisture.
Frequently using heating products on your hair can cause damage to the cuticle of your strands, making them ragged and vulnerable. A heat protectant can smooth the cuticles of your hair, so it lays smoother, retains moisture and is less impacted by humidity.
How to Use a Heat Protectant:
We often don’t think about creating soft, smooth hair until we’re ready to start styling with sprays, texturizers, creams or your potion of choice. However, styling starts before the heat rises. Here are a few things to remember when applying your heat styling product:
Achieving a healthy look starts before you step out of the shower. The cuticles of hair are most open and easily penetrated by-product when wet, it's most effective to apply your heat protectant right after using a deep conditioner.
This will ensure that your heat styling product is fully absorbed by each strand of hair to create the bond that will protect your hair during heat styling.
You should always, always use a heat preparation product if you are going to be applying high temperatures to your hair.
However, you can apply your product strategically by the way you plan to use heat to style. For example, if you intend to let hair dry naturally and curl only the ends, you may want to only apply a heat protectant to the last few inches of your hair.
If you plan to give yourself an all-out blowout, carefully comb an even layer of heat protectant throughout the entirety of your mane.
Read the label carefully. This sounds obvious, but heat protectants can vary in regards to the best way to apply them. Make sure you’re applying the recommended amount in the way the product indicates.
Some heat protectants are intended to be applied to soaking wet hair while others work best on lightly towel-dried locks. Some products even indicate that they should be massaged into strands while others suggest combing through from scalp to tips.
Finally, adjust your heat protectant by the intensity of heat styling you intend to do.
How to Choose the Right Heat Protectant:
While all heat protectants essentially work by protecting the hair shaft from excess moisture loss and preventing breakage and fraying caused by over-working hair, not all heat protectants are suited for the same needs.
Some heat protectants cater to long-wearing styles while others are specifically intended to add shine. To find the product that will work best for your dream style, aim to choose a heat protectant that is especially suited to your needs.
If you’re specifically looking to seal and tame split ends, you’ll want to avoid formulas for curly or chemically processed hair.
Choosing a heat protectant that isn’t tailored to your needs is a lot like choosing a cold medicine that treats symptoms you don’t have—it isn’t necessary, and it might even make the problem worse.
What About Chemical Free Heat Protectants?
Do you love to style and need the benefits of a heat protectant, but are hesitant to use a silicone-based product because of added chemicals? No problem! There are multiple serums derived from natural oils as well as water-based heat protectants.
Heat protectants that utilize natural oils such as almond, olive, coconut or argan oil have similar properties to silicone-based products.
Essentially, they work by covering and protecting the hair shaft while adding moisture. Just like regular cooking oils, heat protectants that utilize oils protect the surface they are coating from high temperatures.
In addition to protecting from heat styling, many oil-based serums also help to create healthier hair because they are naturally filled with amino acids and vitamins that help hair thrive.
Oil-based protectants often double as a sunscreen for hair because they provide protection from UV rays.
Out of all five heat protectants, our favorite was HSI PROFESSIONAL Thermal Protector 450 with Argan Oil. This super spray ultimately keeps hair safe throughout the highest levels of heat styling.
Even more amazing, it helps to improve the over the health of hair by adding natural argan oil to strands. We also love that we can feel good about using this paraben, sulfate, and phosphate free formula.
Unlike some of the other products on out list, this one lasted and lasted and even helped to revive style with brushing later in the day. Finally, its finish gave a great hold without the greasiness often caused by heat protectant sprays.