Jan 112014
 

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Listening to the advice from different hair stylists, they all appear to agree on one thing–heat is not good for hair. Still, I’m not giving up my styling tools. Although I’ve invested in a dryer, hot roller set, and the like that promise the gentlest forms of heat, I’ve also begun to explore leave-in products to ensure my hair is as protected as possible.

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My favorite of the ones that I tried is the Kerastase Chroma Thermique ($48/5.1 oz.). Although designed for color treated hair, I have friends who have recommended it that have never had their hair colored (one, in fact, uses it on her 10-year-old daughter). It’s because this leaves your hair all kinds of awesome, and you do not need color-treated hair to get those benefits. This leave-in treatment softens, protects, and conditions hair. Kerastase Chroma Thermique’s beneficial properties are heat-activated (smart!). In fact, it’s accompanying literature claims that the beneficial properties are five times more effective when used with heat.

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This was immediately transformative, giving me far more manageable, softer, conditioned  and shiny hair.

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 For me, Kerastase’s claims for the products all seemed to be present and accounted for:

Protects hair from the stress of heat styling tools
Adds brilliance and mirror-like shine
Smooths the hair fiber
Improves hair drying time and straightening performance
Nourishes, softens and moisturizes hair
Keeps hair color vibrant with UV protection

This does not weigh my hair down at all, and the effect lasted all day and through the next. Gorgeous product. Ingredient list:

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I love this product and never want to be without it.

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It comes in a large five-ounce container, although the company sells a mini-sized for $18 if you’d like to try it with a smaller investment.  I found mine at a spa, but then I ordered a second when Kerastase had a free-ship deal around the holiday (register for their website to learn about their occasional promotions).

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 The second product that I loved was Alterna’s Bamboo Anti-Breakage Thermal Protectant ($25/4.2 oz.). I should add that I have liked a few of Alterna’s products, I believe that they offer good results for the price. This is a spray leave-in product, my pump was a little wonky at first but now it seems to be working smoothly. The ingredient list is here.

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According to the company, Alterna’s Anti-Breakage protection offers protection of up to 428 degrees (my, that’s precise!).  I can confirm that, at least for me, Alterna is right to claim that the product “works to detangle, soften, and create a protective moisturizing barrier around the hair’s outer layer, eliminating dryness and brittleness while naturally increasing its strength and elasticity.” My hair looked very healthy and soft, and it really volumized my hair to a noticeable degree. Comparing this to the Kerastase Chroma Thermique, the Kerastase left my hair noticeably smoother and shinier. With Alterna’s Anti-Breakage, I had to add an additional product to smooth my hair and to add shine. Also, Alterna’s Anti Breakage added volume, but unsurprisingly the volumizing effect did not last overnight.

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Finally, I’ve been using Alterna’s Caviar CC Cream ($25/2.5 oz.) for the past several months. This leave in cream promises ten different benefits:  moisture, shine, smoothness, softness, anti-breakage, heat protection, light hold, UV protection, manageability, and strength. Whew!

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I’ve been using this mostly for its heat protective properties. It does make my hair look and feel very nice, and it’s a good all-in-one product that also works well as a leave-in-conditioner. Compared to the Kerastase, my sense is that if your hair is already healthy and shiny, this is a great product to keep it that way. If you need the big guns to transform your hair into the other-worldly shampoo-commercial condition, I’d go with the Kerastase. On the price/volume ratio, the products are about even.

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The Alterna is nice for travel as well, as the slim little tube goes easily into a overstuffed suitcase. If you’ve tried any thermal protectors, I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments!

This post contains affiliate links for the Alterna products at Sephora. For more information, see About Cafe Makeup.

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