What Is a Heat Protectant & Why Do I Need It?
It’s 2022 and despite the fact that we all know that we should be avoiding heat when it comes to our hair, sometimes we still find ourselves reaching for that hairdryer as a faster solution to drying out hair. Maybe you’re running late to an event, or you woke up and your hair is lacking that volume it needs to take your hairstyle from zero to hero, so you rationalise that it’s ok to use the hairdryer just this once. But is it ever really just once? No, it is not.
Then for the fellas with longer hair…. there is a chance you are using more complex heating tools such as styling wands or straighteners. After all, longer hair needs more maintenance and waiting for long hair to dry feels like it can take an age, especially during the colder months of the year. But it is a simple fact that with repeated use, these hairstyling and drying tools can and will wreak havoc on your hair.
Essentially when you apply heat to hair you are evaporating the water molecules in the inner cortex, altering the structure and mechanical properties of the hair strands. This basically allows you to change the way your hair naturally falls. For example: You can make curly hair straight or straight hair curly. While this sounds like great news for those of you looking to change up your hairstyle to something new the truth of the matter is it will also cause your hair to frizz and dry out. Hair temperatures cause cracks and ruptures in the hair cuticle also which makes your hair more susceptible to future damage. Then, the icing on top of the bad hair day cake, the heat can break down the keratin in your hair which usually keeps your hair strong and glossy.
I know it all sounds like doom and gloom but don’t worry! With the right heat preventive techniques, you can decrease the chances of heat damage especially if you start using a heat protectant. However, to properly protect your hair you must commit to making a few small changes. Good thing they’re not that hard to do.
Heat protectant is a type of product that reduces the damage that heat does to your hair especially when your hair dryers and heated styling tools. Usually, they come in the form of creams, sprays, or serums that you apply to wet or damp hair before you use your heated tools. It usually works that you apply the heat protectant section by section and then comb it through your hair with a wide toothed comb to make sure the product is fully covering all of the hair strands. Heat protectants are also formulated so you can wash them out of your hair at the end of the day.
When you use a heat protectant its main goal is to act as a barrier between your hair and your styling tool, be that a hair dryer, hair wand or a pair of straighteners. They also work to smooth the hair cuticles so that your hair will look smooth and feel soft. A quality heat protector will help preserve moisture in the hair stands and block frizz, contain amino acids which help to strengthen hair and provide antioxidants, as well as include natural oils and extracts which protect and seal the hair cuticle. However, when you are buying your heat protectant it is important to check the label and read it very, very carefully. Many big brand heat protectors come bottled with a host of other chemicals which can damage your hair. You want to avoid products that rely on silicones, such as dimethicone and cyclomethicone, and water-based polymers, such as polyquaternium and acrylate copolymer, as these ingredients can leave a film on your hair and end up weighing it down leaving your overall hairstyle looking limp and deflated. Not the look I imagine you are going for.
When investing in any heat protector we, at NO GUNK, suggest that you look into something natural. This way you don’t have to worry about what other chemicals you are putting in your hair. We have put together a list of natural heat protectants that you can apply to your hair. If you don’t want to make these up yourself at home you can also invest in products that use these as the main ingredient.
1. Coconut Oil (Cocos Nucifera Oil)
Coconut oil is good for everything, including acting as a heat protectant. It has a smoke point of 175 degrees Celsius meaning it can withstand some very high heats. You only need to apply a few drops of coconut oil to your hair (this is so your hair doesn’t get too oily) and then comb it thoroughly through your hair with your fingers. We recommend you begin at the midshaft of your hair and then work down to the ends. Avoid your roots so your hair doesn’t end up looking greasy.
Products containing coconut oil: Styling Funk, Funky Flex Cream, Matte Lava Clay.
2. Grapeseed Oil (Vitis Vinifera Seed Oil)
Grapeseed oil is a great product to use as a natural heat protectant. It has a high smoke point of 215 degrees Celsius. So, it can withstand higher heats than coconut oil. Wow! However, just like coconut oil it can end leaving your hair looking super oily if you use too much of it. We suggest just using a few drops of it on the ends of your hair and working the product through your hair with your fingertips.
3. Argan Oil (Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil)
Argan oil is also known as liquid gold in many countries because of its vast beauty benefits. It has to be the number one go-to all-natural beauty product in the world. It’s unsurprising then that one of the many things it can do is act as a natural heat protectant. That is because it has a smoke point 215 degrees Celsius just like grapeseed oil. This means that this lightweight liquid gold has the ability to protect your hair against high heats from hairstyling tools and hair dryers and will also leave you with a smooth and shiny finish.
Products containing argan oil: Organic Argan Oil, Styling Funk, Funky Flex Cream, Matte Lava Clay.
4. Shea Butter (Butyrospermum Parkii Butter)
Shea butter is great for adding and locking moisture to your hair strands. It also has a high smoke point of 215 degrees Celsius which makes it a great natural heat protectant. Shea butter creates a heat barrier similar to popular products on the market that contain silicone. This means that shea butter is just as effective as an “official” heat protectant, but it leaves no residue or build up in your hair.
Products containing shea butter: Styling Funk, Funky Flex Cream, Matte Lava Clay.
5. Almond Oil (Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil)
Almond oil has the highest smoke point out of all these natural heat protectants at 220 degrees Celsius. This means it is the obvious go-to for those who are using a higher heat setting when drying or styling their hair. This oil is multi-purpose meaning that while it is protecting your hair from heat it is also infusing it with vitamins E, D, B, and A, helping your hair grow stronger and healthier.
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Zheelana is a writer based in Cardiff. She has a BA Honours in English and Creative Writing and is a certified TESOL teacher. When she isn’t out hiking in the lush Welsh countryside, she fills her days with reading, journaling, and going out for food.