From Fried to Fab: The 8 Best Heat Protectants for Hair
Hair that looks effortlessly beautiful usually takes a lot of effort. There are styling tools for fixing every frustration, from frizz and kinky curls to flatness and lack of shine. But most of these tools use high temperatures, which can damage hair.
Your average hair dryer blows air that ranges between 80–140°F. Curling irons heat to between 125–425°F, and your typical flat iron’s operating temperature sits between 350–370°F. Even at a lower setting, that’s a lot of heat directly contacting your hair, breaking down keratin bonds and vaporizing moisture. It’s no wonder heat-styling products cause damage.
Thankfully, beauty brands are aware of this potential damage, and many hair heat-protectant products are on the market. These spray-on, leave-in hair products create a protective barrier that shields hair from damage. They also help your hair retain its style better, so you don’t have to reapply heat for touch-ups. Made with nutritious and hydrating ingredients, they’ll work with your shampoo and conditioner to keep strands looking healthy and shiny.
If you’re having difficulty styling your hair, don’t turn up the heat. Here’s a list of the best heat protectants for hair — you’ll be taking your locks from fried to fab in no time.
Best luxury heat protectant. Olaplex’s heat protectant hair oil is the Cadillac of thermal treatments. The highly-concentrated, weightless, and reparative formula dramatically increases shine, softness, and color vibrancy while minimizing flyaways and frizz. It delivers heat protection up to 450°F.
Best heat protectant for curly hair. This heat-protective blowout spray mimics a keratin treatment's smooth, frizz-free results. Its formula is plant-based and rich in amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and biotin to heal hair and nourish the scalp. It keeps curls in line with 24-hour frizz control and 450°F heat protection.
Best heat protectant for color-treated hair. Pacifica's blow-dry primer protects hair and prevents premature color fading. It keeps hair hydrated and silky smooth by reducing drying time. Best of all, it’s vegan and cruelty-free.
Best heat protectant for fine hair. Look no further for a multitasking styling product that detangles hair and prevents heat damage and dryness. Living proof delivers with a featherweight conditioning detangler that minimizes breakage from wet detangling and provides heat protection up to 400°F. You’ll enjoy lasting smoothness and natural shine with this nourishing spray.
Best heat protectant for dry hair. Atmos-Shield® is a 10-in-1 thermal heat protection hairspray that provides an invisible, weightless barrier to combat damage caused by heat, UV rays, humidity, pollution, and free radicals. This formula protects hair, seals split ends, and locks in moisture for touchable, soft, and smooth-looking hair.
Best heat protectant for natural hair. This heat-activated, super-smoothing, transformative formula starts as a thick cream that melts immediately into hair when blow-drying, giving lasting sleekness and shine without feeling heavy. It works great on tightly coiled hair to deliver hydration while restoring softness and flexibility.
Best affordable heat protectant. When it comes to hair styling, being super hot isn’t a good thing. Protect your hair from hot-tool damage with Foxybae’s lightweight, highly effective heat-protectant spray. The formula contains active biotin, so your hair will grow faster and feel stronger.
Best heat protectant for all hair types. This universal elixir is perfect for all hair types and textures and is formulated to enhance, strengthen, and restore hair's unique moisture balance.
What application method works best for heat protectant spray?
To protect your hair from heat stress, it’s best to coat every strand with a thin layer of product. The process is the same whether you’re working with wet or dry hair.
Step 1: Gently detangle your hair with a wide-tooth comb or fingers. If your hair is still damp, don’t pull too hard and work up from the bottom of the strands to avoid breakage.
Step 2: Separate your hair into small sections.
Step 3: Spray each section from all four sides with the heat protectant, avoiding your scalp.
Step 4: Comb thoroughly to distribute the product evenly before moving on to the next section.
Is it better to put heat protectant on wet or dry hair?
While most sprays can be used on wet or dry hair, it’s best to follow the instructions laid out by the manufacturer. Creams and oils should be used on damp hair.
Does hair heat protectant actually work?
Hair protection treatments work very well when used regularly. They effectively create a protective shield of thermal protection that prevents your hair from being damaged from heat exposure. Some of the ingredients that make this happen are:
- Humectants: Components like glycerine and aloe vera create a barrier that locks in hydration to control frizz and keep hair feeling soft and manageable.
- Essential oils and botanical extracts: These create a smoother texture by sealing the hair cuticle so your hair appears less damaged. Coconut, argan, and almond oil do this very effectively.
- Amino acids: Your hair is made up of protein (mostly keratin), and protein is a long chain of amino acids. Adding these nutrients to a hair care product helps strengthen your keratin strands, improve volume, and boost shine.
Avoid sulfates and parabens that can irritate your scalp, and silicones and water-based polymers that can weigh down your style by creating a residue that’ll also damage your hair in the long run.
Enjoy healthy, damage-free locks
When scouting out the perfect heat protectant for you, consider your hair care needs. If you don’t use hot tools daily, you may not need a set of shampoo and conditioner designed to protect hair from damage. A before-styling spray should do the trick.
The best way to protect your hair is to take a break from heat styling when possible. To find inspiration for styles that don’t require heat, check out video reviews on Flip. Our community uploads videos daily showing off the latest trends and products.