Heat styling your hair without adequate protection can literally fry it, causing fragile, brittle strands. This is why using a heat protectant is essential to preserving the health of your hair. But what should you use? The best heat protectant for your hair could be your leave-in conditioner!
Leave-In Conditioner Can Protect Your Hair
Many people reach for commercial heat protectants when their leave-in conditioner could perform just as well as, or even better than, a traditional heat protectant.
The key is to make sure that your leave-in conditioner has ingredients that can protect your hair from heat.
Silicones that Protect Against Heat
In general, silicones are fantastic heat protectants. The following list contains some of the most common silicones used in heat protectants:
- Cetearyl Methicone
- Stearyl Dimethicone
- Piperindinyl Dimethicone
Note: This is not an exhaustive list of silicone heat protectors. Many more silicones are used regularly in heat protectants.
Silicones work by forming a barrier between your hair and the heat source, effectively protecting your hair from heat damage. If your leave-in conditioner contains ingredients that protect against heat, it could protect your hair from damage resulting from heat application.
Natural Oils and Butters that Protect from Heat Damage
You may not have been aware that certain oils help to protect your hair from heat damage. Below is a list of the most common ones:
- Shea butter – Shea butter is known to be a natural protective coating for any hair.
- Almond oil – This oil has a smoke point of 430 degrees, which means that it will protect your hair without cooking it.
- Coconut oil – This oil can protect hair from heat up to 450 degrees.
- Avocado oil – The smoke point of this oil is a very high 520 degrees, which makes it a great addition to any heat protectant formula.
Not all oils will work as heat protectants. In order for an oil to be appropriate for heat protectant use, it must have a smoke point that is higher than the temperature of your flat iron.
Proteins and Smoothers
Other Ingredients that protect your hair from heat can be found in the following list:
- Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein – This protein is often found in many heat protectants, as it helps to strengthen your hair strands.
- Quaternary 70 – This ingredient helps to make the hair smoother. This is great in a heat protectant because it adds slip to your strands. Without adequate slipperiness, heat appliances won’t glide through your hair easily.
- PVP/Dmapa Acrylates Copolymer - This heat protectant is particularly helpful for damaged hair fibers. It attaches to damaged sections of your hair and reduces the chance of additional damage due to heat styling.
What Can Be Used Instead Of Heat Protectant?
If you don’t want to use a heat protectant, you can use lightweight products that contain ingredients that protect against heat, or you can use oils with high smoke points. And, of course, certain leave-ins are perfect leave-in conditioners.
Can Leave-In Conditioner Be Used as Heat Protectant?
It’s not advised to blindly switch to your leave-in conditioner, as not every leave-in conditioner can double as a heat protectant. Take the following steps to make sure that your leave-in conditioner will protect your hair from heat.
Look at The Ingredients
It’s easiest to look for ingredients from the bulleted lists above, but remember that there are tons of ingredients that are good heat protectors. If you want to know more about the ingredients in your leave-in conditioner, a quick internet search can let you know what each ingredient does for the hair.
Determine whether your leave in conditioner contains ingredients that instill thermal protection. If it does, you can proceed to the next step. If it does not, you should refrain from using that leave in conditioner as a heat protectant and find a product that has heat protectant properties- read until the end for a leave-in conditioner/heat protectant combo!
Take Note of the Order of the Ingredients
Product labels are organized in a way that gives customers an idea of the volume of each product. They do this by listing the ingredients that are present in the highest concentrations first. Then, as you go down the list of ingredients, the concentration of the ingredients diminishes.
So, take a look at the heat protector ingredients that you identified in the previous step and note their location in the ingredient list. If these ingredients are listed last, the leave-in conditioner doesn’t contain much of that ingredient. Contrarily, if the ingredient is listed closer to the top of the list, you can infer that the leave-in conditioner contains more of that ingredient.
Warning: Don’t use a cream leave-in conditioner on your hair. This will likely be too heavy on your hair strands, creating a limp, oily-looking result. Stick to spray leave-in conditioners.
Why Can Leave-In Conditioner Be Used as A Heat Protectant?
Leave-in conditioners are not all created equally, and some of them may contain ingredients that have multiple uses. For instance, silicones can be used to smooth hair and protect strands from heat damage. You’ll find some leave-in conditioners that happen to contain ingredients that work as heat protectants as well.
How to Use a Leave-In Conditioner as a Heat Protectant
Once you’ve determined that your leave-in conditioner can be used as a heat protectant, you can use it like you’d use your normal heat protectant.
Can I Put Leave-In Conditioner On Before Straightening My Hair?
Simply mist your hair with the leave-in conditioner and then distribute the product through your strands. Make sure that all of your hair is covered. Follow your normal hair straightening routine after that.
Best Way to Use Leave-in Conditioner
Leave-in conditioner is best used after your hair has been washed and before styling your hair. This is why a leave-in conditioner with the right ingredients can work well as a heat protectant. Having a leave-in that also works as a heat protectant can save you money since you won’t need to shell out money for both a leave-in conditioner and a heat protectant.
How Often to Use a Leave-In Conditioner
A leave-in conditioner can be used as often as you need it, but most like to use their leave-in conditioner every day to both nourish their hair and protect it from outside elements. The frequency at which you’ll use a leave-in conditioner will depend on your specific leave-in conditioner’s instructions.
Daily Dose’s Miracle Moisture Spray Leave-In Conditioner Detangler is a great product that doubles as a heat protectant. It contains protective silicones that stand up to heat, smoothers to help your heat tool glide through your hair, and moisturizing components that keep your hair healthy on the inside. Get yours at Daily Dose Me!
Author: Andrea Reyes
Andrea is a mother, wife, writer, and natural hair enthusiast of 15 years. Currently on her natural hair journey, she’s been trying countless products and techniques to understand and embrace her natural hair. She is the creator of NaturallyTextured.com, a new website featuring informative articles that share tips, tricks, and techniques aimed to help others learn to love their hair through proper hair care. She writes with the hope of making hair care easier to understand and implement.