Thermal protection: Do they really work?

An interesting question was asked recently by a commentor on the brazilian hair straightening post..........what is the deal on hair protectants?

Q1. What are heat protectants?

Many times this is summarised as silicones but in reality, some of the most effective protectants employ alot of ingredients which are mixed and tested to create the best working formula (this process is known as formulation).

The ingredients include hydrolysed proteins , amino silicones and even polyquats. If these names sound like gobbledegook to you, click on the links and learn more about them.

Q2. Do they work?

I cannot speak for any brand directly but science has shown that the principle of heat protection works. This is what they have been shown to do

1. Prevent breakdown of part of the proteins in hair (J. Cosmet Sci, pg 245-256, 1998)
2. Prevent water loss from the hair strand (J. Cosmet Sci, pg 13-27, 2004)
3. Prevent the outer hair shaft (cuticles) from cracking and allow the hair to maintain strength after heat treatment.

Q3. It is too much work, can I just skip out the protectant?

Low heat applied for a short period is not particularly damaging to hair - low meaning around 100 degrees C. However we all know that water boils at this temperature and therefore while short term lab studies don't show it as damaging, I'm not convinced that if this is repeated frequently enough that it wouldn't be harmful. In short, one quick spray or slather is really not that much effort

So now it is over to you, do you have any heat related questions to ask? Ask away!!


  1. can damage be reverted or must u cut the bad ends?

  2. Hi sewing stardom. I have covered this topic in much more depth in a separate post. Click on the link in bold to see it Can you really repair damaged hair?

  3. Hey Jc, I was wondering how much heat can a protectant protect your hair from before it becomes null?

  4. Can heat protection contain vitamin e? I bought some hair serum for flat ironing and it contains only vitamin e. The lady at the store said it helps to keep in the moisture and add shine. I don't flat iron my hair often, but when I do and use this product it does make my hair feel soft.

  5. Thanks for this post.

    I avoided straightening my hair with a flat iron, because I wasn't sure if the heat protectant actually worked. I will try it again, and keep the temperature reasonable.

  6. Can grapeseed oil be used as a heat protectant?

  7. Hey! Is it possible to use keratin mist as a heat protectant? Keratin is also a protein, right? Or do I need all the heat protectant ingredients mentioned?



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