Feel the heat without frying your hair

BRONWYN WILLIAMS
Last updated 05:00 13/09/2012

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Imagine sticking your hand in a 230C oven. You wouldn't do it to your skin, so why do it to your hair? Every time you turn on that hairdryer or run those irons through your hair, you're doing yourself damage.

"Your hair is made up of proteins and moisture," says Michaela Powell of award-winning Blaze salon. "Every time you apply heat to your hair, it's sucking out that moisture."

Think you're OK because you only heat style occaisionally? Suprisingly, your hair can become heat damaged from as little as one blow dry a week.

Hair that is heat damaged becomes dry, brittle, frizzy and dull. The only way to prevent this happening is through the use of heat protectants.

"It's scary how few people use heat protecting products," Powell says. "Obviously the less you use heated styling tools, the better, but even then you shouldn't own any hot tools without heat protection".

HOW DO HEAT PROTECTANTS WORK?

Heat protectant products apply a light coating over the entire hair shaft, sealing off the cuticle. "It works much like sunscreen does to our skin," Powell says.

WHICH ONE IS BEST FOR ME?

There are a number of different heat protectant options available, depending on the tools you're using to style your hair and the amount of hold you desire.

"Some people need hold, while others don't like the feel of product in their hair," Powell says.

Some heat protectants are simply that - a heat protectant, while others work as styling products for hold and texture as well. Heat protectants designed for irons are much more heavy duty (like the higher SPF in sunscreen), as the heat in an iron is a lot hotter than a blow dryer.

BEST FOR BLOW WAVES

No hold: Structure Foundation Hair Prep and Primer, $24. After a totally natural look and feel? This product is a simple hair primer - it protects the hair without styling, leaving it soft and natural looking. It also cuts blow-drying time in half, perfect for busy mornings.

Light hold: L'Oréal Professionnel série expert Thermo Repair, $29.50. Perfect for damaged hair, this gentle product coaxes sad locks back into life. Smooth the milky product through damp hair and blow dry as usual for rejuvinated shiny hair.

Firm hold: Redken Duo-Shield 07, $36. This firm hold protectant is for those who want to hold their style put. Apply this lotion to towel-dried hair and style as usual.

BEST FOR IRONS

If you use both a blow dryer and a hot iron, pick the heat protector that offers maximum protection and go for one designed for irons.

No hold:  Redken Smooth Lock Heat Glide, $35. This gentle protectant has a heat-activated ingredient that smooths the hair, maximises shine and minimises frizz for up to 48 hours.

Light hold: Matrix Design Pulse Iron In, $21.00. This easy spray protects the hair while providing ultra light hold. Perfect for those after a natural finish. Protects hair up to 400 degrees.

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Firm hold: KMS California Hot Flex Spray, $34. This product works like a heat protectant spray and a setting hairspray in one. Spray onto dry hair, section by section before using your hot irons. Firm enough to hold your style but flexible so you can change it up from day to night.

BEST FOR COLOURED HAIR

While all heat products will work to protect your colour, brightly coloured hair or high pigment shades should go for specially designed colour protectant products.

Kérastase Chroma Thermique, $44: Designed especially for colour treated hair, this product works to stop colour fade associated with heat damage. Great for both blow dryers and hot irons, it controls frizz and leaves the hair silky and smooth.

Pureology Colour Stylist Anti-Split Blow Dry, $37.50.: This lightweight, humidity-resistant cream smoothes hair, with added slip for super fast easy blow-drying.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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