Your hair is dead. Although hair seems to be alive by the mere fact that it grows, hair is nothing more than dead fiber. Your hair doesn’t have any active cells once it emerges from the scalp.
As a result, your hair can only stay in its original condition as it emerges (with good maintenance) or deteriorate over time. The hair we see has no active cells within it capable of fixing any damage that takes place once it has emerged from the scalp.
The Best Heat Protectant for Natural Hair
Using heat on your hair can result in physical heat damaged hair as well as irreversible changes to your hair at molecular level.
When your hair is heated to a temperature around 215° to 235°C or 419° to 455°F, the alpha helix begins to melt. This results in an irreversible change in the hair.
At molecular level, the hair retains the shape of the melted alpha helix. At physical level, the hair shows this molecular damage by failing to revert back to its original naturally curly shape.
It’s important to note that all hair damage is cumulative, so it can build gradually over time as you continue to use heat styling techniques.
Gentle treatment and hair conditioners can prolong the life of damaged hair, but the hair is still damaged and the damage will usually increase with time. This is why heat protectants are necessary if you plan to utilize heat styling.
What Are Heat Protectants?
Heat protectants are silicone formulations used to protect your natural hair from heat damage. Heat protectants are usually made up of hydrolysed proteins, amino silicones as well as polyquats.
Some of these ingredients have mixed reviews, so it’s important to do your research.
Do Heat Protectants for Natural Hair Really Work?
According to numerous research studies, heat protectants work pretty well when they’re used properly.
Based on scientific research, heat protectants do the following:
- Mitigate the breakdown hair proteins (J. Cosmet. Sci., 49, 245-256 Jul./Aug. 1998).
- Mitigate loss of water from the hair strands and reducing the hair cuticles from cracking the hair as well as allowing the hair to maintain its strength after heat treatment (J. Cosmet. Sci.,, 55, 13-27 Jan./Feb. 2004).
It’s important to note that hair generally isn’t damaged by low heat (less than 100°C) applied for short time periods of time. However, we know that 100°C isn’t exactly low heat, especially when you consider that water will boil at this temperature.
Furthermore, many hair styling methods surpass this heat threshold substantially. It is therefore important to use heat protectants for all heating applications. So, what’s the best heat protectant for black hair?