This article comes from Elle.
A lot of us are confused about what these vitamin-infused agents actually do for the hair before it’s blasted with heat from a hairdryer, curling tong or straightening iron. Some people even believe the whole idea of “heat protection” is a marketing ploy.
To set the record straight, here’s a list of exactly what these smooth operators achieve, minus mumbo-jumbo terms like “gloss fortification” and “luster-boost”.
Do you know how zinc acts as a barrier between your sun and skin? The silicones in heat protectors do the same thing for your hair. They form a protective barrier over the cuticle of the hair strand, which protects it from the heat of your hair tools. Friendly silicones (Aka, the water-soluble ones) to look out for on the back of the bottle include dimethicone copolyol, stearoxy dimethicone, and behenoxy dimethicone.
Side note: Just like sunscreen, the barrier created by heat protectors fights off free radical damage caused by UV rays.
Would you wear a skirt in winter without smoothing out the reptilian scales situation on your legs first? We’re going to say no. The same logic can be applied when considering rocking a blow-dry. You’re not going to blast the heat and get a great result when your hair is dry, to begin with. Basically, heat protectors are like conditioner, but lighter. All the vitamins and fatty acids infused in the spray/lotion give the hair a tall glass of water. In turn, you get a bouncier, healthy blow dry.
When you apply a heat protectant, it immediately forms a layer over the hair shaft, which locks in hydration. Kind of like a sleeping bag locks in heat.
Despite popular belief, oils aren’t the devil when it comes to heat prep. Yes, heavy, unrefined coconut oil and the like is too dense and can cause the hair to sizzle when put to hot tongs, but nowadays, hair oil formulas are so refined and light-weight, the benefits of the stuff far outweigh the disadvantages. Grape seed oil, avocado oil, and argan oil are all goodies to look out for.
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