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How To Find a Good Heat Protectant for Natural Hair

• Mar 28, 2012

fantasia-ic-hair-polisher-heat-protector-serum-6oz-1
By Jc of The Natural Haven Bloom

In a word yes, heat protectants do work. As temperatures start rising and the warmer spring and summer months come, some naturals look to heat style their hair and protect in the process.  Heat styling is not for everyone and certainly if your hair is fine (individual strands) and/or very kinky, you may actually benefit from avoiding heat altogether. However, for those who can or who want to heat style, the role of heat protectants is to reduce (not eliminate) both chemical and physical damage to hair during the application of heat.

Protection from Chemical Damage

Applying heat to hair will always lead to some chemical damage because heat degrades amino acids in hair — do remember that hair is a protein composed of amino acids.  One specific amino acid that can be traced quite well during this process is tryptophan and it will decrease when heat is applied to hair. However applying a heat protectant generally corresponds to less degradation of tryptophan. This is because heat protectants prevent full heat transfer to the cortex of hair and therefore reduce the heat induced degradation of the protein.

Protection from Physical Damage

Physically, the surface of the hair fibre (i.e the cuticle) can suffer breaks and chips. This damage can also lead to physical breakage of the hair during combing after heat styling. Heat protectants coat hair and prevent direct contact between the heat implement and the hair fibre. This action helps to reduce physical damage to the hair and in turn breakage during heat styling.

Choosing a Heat Protectant

Any heat protectant is better than none at all. If you are looking to advance your knowledge however, a recent study from the University of Manchester highlighted that it may be beneficial to avoid water based heat protectants and opt instead for ‘dry’ ingredients (oils and solvents including ethanol). Water free protectants performed better than those with water. Many heat protectants contain ingredients such as silicones and polymers (including acrylates, polyquarteniums and copolymers). Although synthesised, these are some of the most well researched protectants.

In the search for natural alternatives, grape seed oil is often quoted as a good heat protectant because it has a high smoke point (i.e the point where the oil breaks down and starts to smoke — around 400F/200°C for grape seed oil). The smoke point of an oil does not really tell us if it is a good heat protectant though. A good protectant needs to be able to reduce transfer of heat to the cortex, an oil with a high smoke point simply will not degrade itself when heat is applied (good for coating and reducing physical damage) but on the flip side, if it stays hot and transfers heat to the cortex then it would not help towards the physical damage. In other words, the jury is still out on grape seed oil. Many other natural oils which are refined (not raw or virgin) also have similar high smoke points including olive oil, coconut oil and sunflower oil.

Ladies, what do you use as a heat protectant? And do you use heat in your hair?

References
J Cosmet Sci, pp 265–282, 2011
J Cosmet Sci, pp 15–27, 2011

About The Natural Haven

Scientist on a hairy mission!

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56 Comments on "How To Find a Good Heat Protectant for Natural Hair"

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Goldeelocks
Guest

I’ve been using a heat protectant called “Firewall” by Ag Cosmetics that seems to be working pretty well. It’s a light spray that doesnt way down heavy at all.

empress
Guest

I love the ic hair polisher heat protector/straitening serum. it is water free and not only does it protect from heat, but it gets rid of frizzies and makes my hair shiny and much straighter. I use it in place of “hair grease” on days when I wear my hair curly too.

Lele
Guest

Me too…

marvia
Guest

Are u african american?

Uli
Guest

What kind of question is that marvia?

Lele
Guest

The heat protector that I use is Fantasia IC Hair Polisher straightening spray. I do not usually use flat irons or a pressing comb a all. I used a flat iron once last year, but now I only blow dry. I try not to blow dry my hair more than every few months. I like the way it makes my hair feel and look when I blow it out. It makes for a nice, sheeny braid out.

Lele
Guest

The only thing I hate about blow drying is how dry it makes my hair. That is the reason I only do it 2–3 times per year.

Alexandra
Guest

Try using a leave in conditioner first and then a heat protectant. My hair comes out shiny and soft when doing this after a blow out.

Mohaginy
Guest

I have been having the same issue as Lele. I usually use Shea Butter, but I think I can cut down on how much I use if I apply the leave in first.

GrrCarrot
Guest

That is why you put hair oil in your hair during or just after you blow dry it.

Alexandra
Guest

I use Redkin and Soft Sheen Carson Heat protecting foam (rotate between the 2). Both are awesome! My hair never feels dry or brittle after using them.

Natalie
Guest
The last time I blowdried my hair was in November 2011. After I washed my hair I applied leave in conditioner then grapeseed oil let it air dry for a bit and it came out very well. That same day I went to the hairdressers to get my hair cut, she told me my hair was in good condition. I do not buy any hair products apart from conditioner for co washing. For me grapeseed oil is better than any shop bought product especially as I rarely apply any heat to my hair. If I blow dried and flat ironed… Read more »
Pia Murray
Guest

I also love Love LOVE grapeseed oil for a heat protectant. Avocado oil also has an extremely high heat index, but I had read around 500ºF for both. I use one or both oils in my heat protectant recipe. JC, have you used either of these oils on your own hair? What is your personal hypothesis about them as heat protectants?

Kat
Guest

Hola Pia.

May you please share your natural heat protectant recipe with us?

Thanks.

SheD
Guest

Just because an oil has a high smoking point does not mean it protects your hair from heat. When an egg is cooked in oil the oil isn’t (or shouldn’t be) smoking hot — doesn’t the egg still cook? The oil may take a while to burn but that doesn’t mean its not transferring heat to your hair! I love natural products and use them 95% of the time but I realize some of those formulated chemical ridden products are better suited for a particular process. Heat styling is definitely #1.

Michelle @Radiant Brown Beauty
Guest

Thanks for sharing this article. I’m actually preparing to get my hair blown out and trimmed. Blow drying has never really caused me breakage. IT’s the flat ironing that was really bad for my hair.

I need a good heat protectant for getting my hair blown out. I haven’t blown my hair out since april of 2011.

Cherise
Guest

Do heat protectants cause your hair to look greasy? If so are there any that don’t leave your hair greasy when you’re done but still do an effective job of protecting hair from heat damage?

Yazz
Guest

I use CHI 44 thermal protectant spry and it has worked well for me. It makes my hair easier to straighten and makes it super moist and soft. Heat dries your hair so this works well at putting that moisture back in!

JO
Guest

i would like to try Grapeseed oil to blow dry and Aubrey Organics NuStyle Hair Soothing Serum to flat iron.

Isolina
Guest

Hair is made of proteins and flat ironing hair destroys the protein. I do protein treatments with Nutress Hair protein packs every time I wash and flatiron my hair. I also use the Nutress Stop Break Leave-in-Conditioner and Foam Wrap to protect my hair before I blow dry and flat iron it. My hair always feels protected and stays healthy despite the heat! Check them out the products are so versatile and AFFORDABLE.

Monica
Guest

How would you describe your hair texture?

mary
Guest

My FAV is the Pro Naturals moroccan argan oil heat protectant, best one ever!!!! Problem is that it’s so hard to get because it’s always sold out 🙁 But when I get some it’s heaven for my hair, lol. Makes it so SOFT and shiny I can’t get over it. 😀

Lisa
Guest

I tried a blow out on my hair today (which is also my 30th bday). I used Giovanni Leave-In Conditioner and grapeseed oil. I let my hair air dry for awhile, then blow dried on low heat. I added additional grapeseed oil where needed. It turned out good, soft, and shiny. My hair is shorter and my ends need clipping, so I wore my hair in a sock bun. But overall I liked the results and it was super easy. The conditioner helps to curve the smell of the oil. I’ll definitely do this in the future.

LaLa
Guest

Happy Belated Birthday Lisa!

Dila
Guest

what a great post! can you reco a few curling irons? i haven’t used one in years.i am tlatoly going to try this my hair is about the length of the mannequin. my hair has never taken curl well (falls right out), i’m sure it was the lack of product. any specific recos for thick, relatively straight hair, some natural wave?

Nikki
Guest

I find that a pressing wax works well or serums as heat protectants. Duddleys pressing cream is what I currently use. Dax pressing oil was used when my hair was natural. The wax keeps the frizz away and if it rains my hair stays in place also.

Jessica Alexander
Guest
hi there im starting an chemical/synthetic free aproach to my skin, hair and cleaning products. im trying out an avacado heat protectant spray for when i flat iron my hair . made from taking half an avacado 1/2 to 1 cup of distilled water . place on the stove and allow to simmer on low to med heat (of course mush and mash the avacado ) strain and let cool put it in a spray bottle and lightly mist while flat ironing. ive made it but im lettingmy hair air dry before i flat iron it. i like my hair… Read more »
Alexandria
Guest

I’m using a curling iron for the first time since I went natural I need hair styling ideas and heat protectant

Simone
Guest

For Naturals that are looking for a heat protectant to just blow dry, I’ve heard Nubian Heritage Leave in Heat protectant cream is good. Unfortunately, I can only seem to find it online. I have tried the Carol’s Daughter Hair straightening system(chocolate) which includes a blow dry cream. It totally worked!

Linda
Guest

Use curl formers to curl your hair. Less heat on your hair. I’m looking for heat protectant to blow dry my hair before using curl formers. I’m going to try them while hair is damp and natural and blow out.

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You have to care about the choosing a heat protectants.and many heat protectants contain ingredients such as silicones and polymers.

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