What was the same? Each product contained dimethicone, water soluble or oil soluble, in differing amounts. Each contained conditioning agents, usually as a cationic quaternary polymer as opposed to an intense conditioner as a cationic quaternary compound (like BTMS). And each contained the things we're used to seeing in our conditioners - hydrolyzed proteins, panthenol, and preservatives.
The differences were interesting. Some contained water and looked more like a light leave in conditioner than a styling or heat protecting spray. Some had no water at all and looked more like a serum. And some contained alcohol.
Of course, after all this research I find this post from the Beauty Brains on this topic. I should have just gone there first!
Quote: Blow dry damage can be prevented by using products containing glycerin and propylene glycol because these actives retard water evaporation.
Quote: Iron damage can be reduced by using conditioners formulated with low molecular weight conditioners that can penetrate into the hair like cetrimonium chloride. Another study (see Reference 2) showed that exposing hair to heat in the presence of such a conditioning agent actually caused an increase in tensile strength (the force required to break a hair). This is because the heat reacts with the conditioning agents and cross links some of the protein chains inside the hair.
So what this means to use is the important ingredients in these products are the humectants - glycerin and propylene glycol - and the conditioners like cetrimonium chloride.
Does the dimethicone do anything? It does protect hair from heat and offers great gloss and shine as well as conditioning features.
So it looks like a good heat protecting hair care product should contain a goodly amount of humectants, some cationic quat compounds and polymers, and dimethicone.
If you wanted to make a water based product, I'd suggest trying a light leave in conditioner with cetrimonium chloride (3 to 5%) with a cationic polymer like honeyquat or condition-eze 7 (2 to 3%), panthenol (2%), hydrolyzed protein (2%), preservative (0.5% to 1%), water, and fragrance (0.5% to 1%). You'd want to include your humectants - glycerin, propylene glycol, honeyquat - at about 2 to 3% each. I'd add some water soluble dimethicone (I have to order that next time!) at about 3 to 5%.
Or you could try the anhydrous path with cyclomethicone and dimethicone, but then we're missing out on those lovely humectants and conditioners.
Please note: I make no assurances that the product I am suggesting above will protect your hair from heated styling appliances. This is a theoretical exercise in analysing ingredients in commercial products. As I say in craft group, if I say "don't eat that" and you eat that and you die, it's not my fault.
So which of these is the best product? I have no idea. I chose them randomly from a google search. There are hundreds of other products out there and everyone has her favourite. If I were to look for a product, I'd want something with those lovely cationic conditioners, some great humectants, and dimethicone.
Join me tomorrow (next year!) for more formulating fun!