Heat styling, whether you are using a curling iron or a flat iron, can do some damage to your hair–especially if you curl often. Most hairstylists suggest using a heat protectant before going for those beach waves in order to lessen the potential damage.
But what if you run out of your favorite hair heat protectant, or if it goes bad? Do you just take the risk of not using one or can you find an alternative?
Coconut oil is well known to be able to do anything. Can you flat iron your hair after putting coconut oil on it?
The anser is… that depends. In this article, we’ll go though all the factors in detail.
Using Oil As Heat Protectants
There are many advantages of using oil on the hair. Different oils have different properties that can make your hair look great. Some oils can even repair the damage that it has received due to frequent heat styling.
A heat protectant is essential when using a flat iron like the BaByliss Pro Flat Iron (we reviewed it here) on your hair to prevent damage. There are many heat protectants that are commercially available. But many wonder if there are natural alternatives. That is where oils come along.
People have different opinions when it comes to using a flat iron on hair that has been covered with oil. On one side, there are those who argue that it shouldn’t be done because you are just going to cook your hair in the process.
On the other hand, there are some who say that it’s okay to flat iron your hair when you just applied oil, as it can be used as a protectant.
Smoke Point and Burn Point
The reason for the opposing opinions is based on the interaction between heat and oils. Scientifically, oils have something that you call a smoke point or a burn point.
Many who cook are familiar with these concepts. You don’t want to heat your costly extra-virgin olive oil too get too hot in a pan. If the temp is too high, the oil will smoke and burn, and the delicate flavors will be ruined.
Some oils have a low smoking and burning point. These oils shouldn’t be used as heat protectants, as they are clearly unsuited to protecting the hair. When oils are heated past their smoke points, free radicals will be released, which can damage the hair.
Also, when oils, which contain fat, are heated past their smoke point, that temperature could already be high enough to reach their flashpoint. With this, they’d be producing gases that could ignite.
You don’t want to risk doing this to your hair because it will certainly get damaged.
So Can You Flat Iron Your Hair After Putting Coconut Oil On It?
As we’ve mentioned, different oils have different smoke points. The smoke point of coconut oil is quite high, at 350°F. That’s why some people say you can use it on your hair before using a flat iron. There is some truth to that.
Due to the high smoke point of coconut oil, you can use it on your hair if you are using a flat iron that will not go up to a high temperature.
Those who have thin and fine hair can be straightened or curled at lower temperatures so coconut oil could work for them.
Just make sure to apply only a small amount and not drench your hair with it because it can also cause build-up. Oil could also attract small particles to stick to the hair if you use a lot of it.
On the contrary, those who are using higher temperatures to straighten their hair should avoid using coconut oil before using the flat iron. Flat irons can go as high as 450°F, whihc is clearly beyond the smoke point of coconut oil.
If you use such high temperatures for hair straightening, then you shouldn’t use it right after applying coconut oil. Some flat irons like the Sultra the Bombshell Flat Iron (which we reviewed here) run a bit too hot for use with coconut oil. The base temperature on that flat iron is 360′, and it goes up from there.
Others, like the HSI Tourmaline Flat Iron , have a large temperature range, from 140′ to 450′. Lower temperatures would be compatible with coconut oil.
Is There An Exception To The Use Of Coconut Oil And High Temperatures?
If you really want to use coconut oil on your hair, by all means, do it. Just don’t use a flat iron right after applying coconut oil to your hair. And don’t use the high temperatures of your flat iron.
You could also use coconut oil as a hair treatment to hydrate and nourish the hair. After rinsing your hair, you can now flat iron it if you want, even with the high temperatures.
Just remember that coconut oil and flat ironing your hair at 350°F or over don’t go well.
What Should You Use For High-Temperature Flat Ironing?
Whenever you flat iron your hair, it is always wise to use a heat protectant. There are many available in the market like this HSI Argan Spray that could protect the hair for up to 450°F.
Most of the commercial heat protectants for hair contain silicones. This is because they can provide adequate defense against the heat. They can also be used to prevent moisture loss.
However, if you still want to stick with oils, then you may want to lean toward Argan oil instead of coconut oil. Argan oil is a good option because it has a high smoke point of 420°F.
Try not to go over that temp with your iron, and keep in mind that Argan oil does expire. Don’t use it after expiration.
If you are using your flat iron at the highest temperature, which reaches 450°F, then you should go for avocado oil instead. It has a very high smoke point of 520°F.
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Coconut oil offers a lot of benefits when used on hair. It can even be used as a heat protectant when you use a flat iron on your hair. However, when using oils on your hair before straightening with a flat iron, you should consider the smoke point of the oils. The smoke point of the oil you use should be higher than the temperature of the flat iron that you’ll be using.
As for coconut oils, you can certainly use them before using a flat iron. You just have to make sure not to go beyond its smoke point. For those with more ethnic hair textures who may want to max out the temp of the flat iron, coconut oil should be avoided.
Finally, it is best to use a small amount only and not drench your hair with it.