“You can’t use oil as a heat protectant, it’ll fry your hair.”
I take the time to respond whenever someone says that oil shouldn’t be used as a heat protectant because it will “fry” your hair. I used to believe the same thing until I did some research and applied what I learned. Yes, oil CAN “fry” your hair, BUT only when a certain temperature is reached, depending on the oil.
Allow me to break it down so that you can rest assured. Every oil has something called a smoke point (this link also contains information about commonly used oils). It is the point at which an oil begins to let off a blueish smoke that can be irritating to the eyes, nose, and throat, the point at which the flavor and valuable nutrients of the oil begin to break down. When that process happens, the oil is then hot enough to fry something (if you hear that snap, crackle, pop when using heat, you are applying WAAAAY too much).
Oil is perfectly safe to use as a heat protectant when proper precautions are taken. Once you know the smoke point of an oil, you can adjust your heat styling tools accordingly and as long as you do not exceed that temperature, you won’t cook your hair. IMPORTANT: Even when every precaution is taken to protect your hair from heat, excessive use of heat styling tools can STILL cause heat damage over time. Now, I wasn’t able to get a formal chart of a typical flat iron’s number settings and their relation to temperature, but I did find this product detail page with useful information about what heat setting is right for your hair type included in the description (you may be surprised; I was).
In actuality, natural oils make the BEST heat protectants because they lock in moisture, they protect against humidity; unlike most heat protectants that contain silicone, they are completely natural and wash out with mild shampoo and/or clarifying conditioner and warm water, and they are about the same price as a store-bought heat protectant, cheaper in many cases.
If you still aren’t convinced, I’ve put together these photos of myself straightening a piece of my own hair with nothing on it but refined coconut oil (refined coconut oil has a smoke point of 450 degrees Fahrenheit, 100 degrees higher than unrefined).