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We owe hair a lot. Despite strenuous styling, harsh DIY dye jobs, and in-a-rush brushing, hair is able to serve up some pretty good hair days through it all. Hell, even when we're sleeping, and if we're not using a protective sleep style, hair is getting damaged.
The least we can do is prevent damage where possible: using a heat protectant spray. And for all you “does heat protectant really work?” naysayers out there, we've got the case for how heat damage can be almost totally prevented with this miracle spray. And what happens every time you don't use it.
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Hair dryers, unless at their absolute coldest, can heat hair anywhere from 80 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. And even though you can control the heat on your straighteners and curling irons, we know to get a good style you have to put them anywhere from 275°F and up. Pretty sure we collectively share a love affair with the 410°F setting that the lower settings don't know about.
Even without indulging in the higher settings, when your hair heats up anywhere past 260°F, there's a few instant types of damage that occur:
But, does heat protectant work against all this? It sure does! Ugh, we love preventable problems.
Simply put, heat protectant creates a barrier between the external heat of your tools and your strand. Basically (before we get into the science), heat protectant smoothes down the cuticle with a low conductive ingredient giving you sealed-in, tamed frizz and moisture too!
Now, what does heat protectant actually do to your hair while it's working? Certain ingredients are key in protecting your hair from heat. Some popular active ingredients that are doing all the work are: PVP/DMAPA acrylates copolymer, quaternium 70, and hydrolyzed wheat protein.
When these were studied (looking at a study from 1998), they found that these common heat protectant ingredients were able to reduce damage by 10-20% at just 1% strength. The low thermal conductivity of these ingredients allowed the heat to distribute more evenly and slowed down the heat conduction.
There are tons of other ingredients that are being used now that all lean on this same “low thermal conductivity” effect too. You'll often see silicone used and your halo hair extension even uses a very thin layer of silicone to help diminish the damage from styling too.
It does, but it doesn't mean you can go hard on heat and forget everything you know about preventing damage. As we've now answered those wondering what does heat protectant do, we can understand that it reduces the quick heat effect of styling tools, slows heat transmission, and reduces the amount of heat that penetrates the hair. The key words here are “slows” and “reduces” heat.
Many studies conclude that heat protectant can only protect against up to 50% of heat that's hitting hair. That said, 50% is huge if you're heat styling every day! Along with reducing heat in general, adding a heat protecting shampoo and conditioner, AND using a heat protectant spray, you get quite a bit of barrier for your hair and less severe/noticeable damage. That's something we'll take any day!
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@theaussierapunzel Bread is not hair but it's a good visual representation of why you should always use heat protectant 🤩 #learnontiktok #tiktokpartner #hairtips ♬ Similar Sensation (Instrumental) - BLVKSHP
Thanks to TikTok [for everything in this life], we have a pretty foolproof way of testing heat protectant's effectiveness at home. Have you heard of the toast test? Get some pieces of white bread, spray your heat protectant all over one side of the bread, and put it in the oven on broil. You'll be able to see if your beloved heat protectant was able to protect the toast from getting hit by the heat of the broiler! Or which of your faves is better, if you test multiple.
Be careful and stick around the oven because if you've never used broil before, it cooks stuff quick! Lots of people do this test by using the toaster, but historically wetness and electricity aren't amazing together, so a pan in the oven is a little safer and easier to take out.
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A cream variation to heat protection, Kerastase has formulated this leave-in cream with damaged 'dos in mind. While it protects against heat up to 450°F, because it's packed with ceramides and keratin, this protectant promises to stop breakage from blow drying by 85%. You'll get added strength from those star ingredients too!