The job of a heat protectant is simple; to protect your hair from damage caused by heat styling tools.
How heat damages the hair
To fully appreciate heat protectants, we should first understand how heat damages hair. Hair structure can be divided into two broad parts, the inner cortex and the outer cuticle. The inner cortex contains molecules of water that can evaporate when the heat is applied, altering both the internal structure of the hair as well as the mechanical properties of the hair itself; altering the pattern of the hair. The inner cortex also contains the protein keratin, which can be broken down by heat. Keratin (or a lack thereof) can directly impact the strength of the hair. The outer cuticle of the hair is also susceptible to heat damage. High temperatures can cause the hair cuticle to crack or rupture, creating frizzy and dry hair. When hair is compromised in this manner, it is far more susceptible to damage and less able to endure styles that cause damage.
How do heat protectants work
A heat protectant acts as a barrier between the heat styling tool and the hair itself. The heat protectant can help seal in the moisture within the hair and reduce frizz. One very important thing to note is that the risk of heat damage is not completely nullified when using a heat protectant. When selecting a protectant, you’ll want to find one that will optimally protect your hair, block frizz, and preserve moisture. Not all heat protectants are the same; for example, some heat protectants rely on silicones or water-based polymers, which can create a film over the hair and weigh the hair down.
Selecting a heat protectant
Some heat protectants can be applied to wet or dry hair; which one you should choose will depend on your hair type and preferred hairstyling method. After you’ve narrowed down which type of protectant you need, look at the ingredients in the product. Aim for protectants that can provide your hair with benefits like hydration and nourishing ingredients to help your hair maintain health.
A heat protectant cannot repair or fix damaged hair, so even if you are using a heat protectant, give your hair a break every now and again. To help revitalize heat-stressed hair, start by applying a deep conditioner, or utilize a leave-in conditioner. You’ll also use products that contain Keratin or silk amino acids. Finally, lay off the heat styling tools for a while and consider using less heat when you do style your hair.
Have you damaged your hair using heat tools? Tell us about it in the comments below!