Does Heat Protectant Really Work On Your Hair?

Heat protectants are common hair care products that claim to protect your hair from heat damage. Some claim to add shine and moisture as well. According to HelloGiggles, heat protectants usually come in the form of serums or sprays. They can be used before styling your hair with hot tools, like blowdryers, curling irons, and flat irons. While hot tools effectively style your hair, they can cause damage over time, and you may begin to notice your hair turning lackluster.

That's because the heat tends to weaken the hydrogen bonds that form between keratin proteins in hair. Although this allows you to curl or straighten your hair effectively, it can also lead to breakage (per HelloGiggles). Constant and repeated use of heat can destroy the keratin proteins in your strands, causing your hair to feel rough and dry. To prevent this kind of damage, many turn to heat protectant products before applying heat. But do they work?

Why you should consider heat protectants

As it turns out, heat protectants are highly effective at protecting your hair from damage. That's because heat protectants act as a buffer between your hair and the heat from a hot styling tool. "Heat protectants create a barrier or film around the surface of the hair, known as the cuticle," cosmetic chemist, Esther Olu, told The Cut. Interestingly, the protective mechanism is similar to sunscreen, which creates a barrier of protection between the skin and UV damage.

According to The Cut, while heat protectants can't completely prevent damage, they can help reduce and minimize it. Additionally, setting your styling tools to lower temperatures can help. Generally speaking, temperatures above 392 degrees will cause permanent damage to your hair without a heat protectant. However, experts still don't recommend going above 300 degrees, especially if you have dyed or chemically relaxed hair. Regardless of the temperature, it's recommended that a heat protectant be applied to damp hair, which helps the product spread and dilute easily.