If you flat iron* your hair with any degree of regularity you will be well aware of the benefits of heat protectants. Heat protectants are products that protect your hair from the direct heat of blow dryers*, flat irons* or any other heated styling tools. They also reduce frizz and add shine to they hair.
Silicones in particular work by spreading the heat so that it is not concentrated on a single spot hence preventing damage to the hair fibre. For this reason you will find that a lot of split end protection serums tend to be silicone based as well. There are of course plenty of cone free heat protectants that work pretty well too!
For this particluar experiment with my microscope I decided to flat iron* air dried pieces of shed hair on medium heat. These are hairs that fell out of my own head after a wash and deep condition. Both hairs had their white ‘bulbs’ intact to show that they were in fact shed hairs and not broken and this also helped to cuticle align them.
It bears mentioning also that after flat ironing, to the naked eye, there were no differences between these two strands of hair.
The strand below was flat ironed naked without anything being applied to it. The image of the hair is at approximately 600x magnification. As you can see, the strand looks rough and the cuticles are lifted.
This strand of hair had a silicone based heat protectant* applied to it before flat ironing and the image below is also magnified at approximately 600x.
I thought it may also be interesting to see the difference in how hair looks blow dried either with a spray silicone free heat protectant or a silicone based heat protectant serum. These images captured below were not shed hairs but rather hair currently on my head, just treated differently after a wash and deep condition. Both images are at 600x magnification.
This is my hair after using a cone free heat protectant*. The cuticles are laying flat but the hair looks matte somehow, my hair is never shiny at the best of times and it tends to need oil or other product to reflect light.
And this is my hair blow dried after using a silicone serum. You can see a clear difference! Even though very little serum was used, my hair is reflecting light pretty well hence looks shinier. It also felt smoother to the touch than using a silicone free spray.
It’s worth noting also that even though silicone serums are a great heat protectants and leave your hair smooth and shiny, you should make sure that you are clarifying every 4-6 weeks to avoid any build up which could be detrimental to your hair in the long run.
Disclaimer: My experiments with my digital microscope are not conclusive proof of anything but are presented as my own findings!