Blow dryers and flat irons aren’t everyone’s favorite hot tools.
When used the right way though, they can add instant movement and volume to your hair.
However, constantly using these tools without adding an extra protective layer, such as a heat protectant, leads to unfavorable results.
What Is A Heat Protectant?
A heat protectant is a product that protects the natural health of your hair by preventing any damage to your strands.
Using a blow dryer or flat iron without a heat protectant increases the risk of dryness, dullness, split-ends and limpness of your hair, so you need one for ideal results.
It’s also easy to use a heat protectant. Just apply it on your hair while it’s still damp, right before styling, though some can be applied to dry hair, and flat iron your hair to your liking.
How A Heat Protectant Works
Hair care experts advise that you should apply a heat protectant in form of a cream, spray or serum to prevent hair breakage or damage.
Without one, you’ll be subjecting your strands to high temperatures from your flat iron or blow dryer.
Flat irons weaken the important proteins in your hair, destroying them and depleting the natural oils in your stands too.
The more you use such hot tools, the more maintenance you’ll need to do as your hair continues to lose its streak and its bounce, owing to damaged and weakened strands.
Heat protectants or protectors don’t just prevent “frying” of your hair; they also help defrizz, straighten and smoothen its texture, and add shine to it.
Once you apply the heat protectant to your hair, you can style it using the flat iron with confidence knowing there’s less risk in terms of hair damage.
No matter what texture or hair type you have, you can benefit from the goodness of a heat protectant, especially if it’s chemically-treated because such hair tends to be more brittle and needs more protection.
Do Heat Protectants Actually Help?
To a certain extent, heat protectants help keep your hair from the damaging effects of heat and add shine, but you have to use the right type of products like shampoo, treatments, conditioners and others, and use them properly.
Heat protectants generally contain ingredients like silicones, PVP/DMAPA acrylates copolymer, hydrolyzed wheat protein and Quaternium 70.
All these create a film on your hair thus slowing down heat conduction and evenly distribute heat on each strand of hair.
This way, there’s less stress on each strand of your hair as it slowly heats up instead of quickly, allowing it to fight against the heat.
Silicones are included because they’re good heat conductors and move the heat across your hair slowly, while sealing the hair cuticle, to prevent loss of moisture so your hair won’t dehydrate too much.
Heat protectants may not give 100 percent protection, but at best they help protect it as much as they can.
However, you need to minimize the use of hot tools to protect your hair even more.
Some products are also quite heavy and can weigh down your hair due to greasiness, which builds up residue on your hair, but if you shop around you can find a good one that’s fairly light, especially sprays.
There are also a few alternatives to heat protectants though you’re better off buying a product specifically for heat protection or just stop using heated hair tools.
Some of the 100 percent natural alternatives include coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and Moroccan or Argan oil, both of which are mentioned often as ingredients in heat protection sprays.
Should You Use Heat Protection Spray?
This depends on the state of your hair.
If you don’t style your hair using heat, you can use a heat protection spray, especially if the hair is brittle, dry, chemically processed or has damage symptoms and you don’t want to use other hot hair tools.
These sprays are also good in hot environments because the sun heats your hair and can damage it if it isn’t protected.
Strangely though, people protect their skin from the sun’s heat, compared to their hair.
Whether your hair is in good condition, soft, healthy and bouncy, heat protection is still good to have.
What To Look For In A Heat Protectant
If you’re out looking for a heat protectant, you’ll notice that there are so many types on the shelves, with different formulas, making it tricky to decide which one is best for you.
The key terms you need to look out for include UV protectants, strengtheners or smoothers, all of which help counteract and prevent the damaging side effects of flat ironing or heat styling in general.
There are several options available: Argan oils, keratin-infused, Moroccan oils, silicon based heat protection sprays, and more.
The Argan and Moroccan oils have nourishing properties that coat your hair and keep it hydrated.
Your hair already has Keratin in each strand of hair, which heat breaks down, so a spray will help bring it back to your hair.
On the other hand, silicone is a great conductor of heat, so it helps reduce any stress on your hair when you’re using heated hair tools.
Ideally, products marked as heat protectors, heat protection or heat protectants should offer protection when using such tools.
You can also use serum to boost your hair’s shine, and oils for extra sheen though these can weigh down your hair.
If it’s prone to greasiness, don’t add oil or add just enough at the root if you must.
Sprays distribute a fine mist across your hair, no matter the type, and it’s easily dispersed around the scalp, plus it’s much lighter than using oil.
When you apply an oil-based or serum-based heat protectant product, it’ll add shine to your hair but can also make it look greasy as it increases oil production.
Consider the temperature of the hot tools you’re using, such as the flat iron.
Usually, they heat up to temperatures of more than 450 degrees Fahrenheit, which is great for curly or difficult to style hair, but it’s also prone to damaging the hair.
Pick a heat protectant that can guard your strands against the level of heat being used.
Plus, you need to consider the tool’s potential deceptive temperature indicators.
Stylists would advise using the lowest possible temperature on your flat ironing tool that’ll still work for your hair.
Address your hair concern when shopping for a heat protectant to find some extras it offers when it comes to styling.
Most women don’t like using many styling products because it leads to residue or product buildup, so it’s good to get one that has a multitasking approach to hair care.
For example, if you have damaged hair, find something that’s strengthening and resurfacing, or if your concern is unruly hair, find something taming and smoothing that’ll keep the style smooth for longer.
If your hair is dry in nature, a product that’ll nourish and polish your strands daily will be beneficial.
The right product will leave your hair looking and feeling beautiful.
Maximum hair protection
A good heat protectant will promise and deliver hair protection from heat styling by coating and helping guard your hair from damage by heat.
It also helps combat frizz by sealing the hair cuticle and locking in moisture, so find one that also combats frizz so your hair stays smooth all day, regardless of the weather.
Best Heat Protectants For Flat Ironing
Without further ado, here are our top picks of the highest-rated heat protectants on the market to help keep your hair healthy and safeguard it from damage through all that flat ironing.
To use it, spray on your hair just before styling to protect from heat exposure up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and speed up the time you’d take to heat style your hair.
The mild formula infuses the Argan oil, which doubles as a leave-in conditioner so you can detangle hair knots, and add shine to your strands.
The result is silky-feeling, healthy hair.
HIS protector balances between giving your hair enough moisture without weighing it down, and the Argan oil coats your strands, keeping them healthy.
It’s sulfate-free, and suitable for use on all types of hair, including natural and human hair extensions.
It contains all natural healthy ingredients such as Argan oil, so your hair can be nourished.
It also doubles as a leave-in conditioner that moisturizes your hair so it doesn’t become brittle or dry.
What’s more, it also has detangler properties.
If you purchase the product and aren’t happy with it, you can contact the manufacturer will make it right for you.
It contains keratin and marula oil, which offers all five smoothing benefits in one system, to give your hair a silky smooth feel, with natural movement.
You can transform your frizzy hair using a flat iron and the spray will shield you from heat of up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit so you can style your hair to professional quality.
It also protects your strands from heat damage, and leaves it gorgeously sleek and manageable.
Its weightless formula ensures there’s no added buildup, plus it seals your hair cuticle and prevents damage in future.
It’s a unique line of thermal protectant products that build your hair’s strength while increasing its ability to resist heat styling damage.
It uses strengthening proteins and heat protectant ceramic compounds that decrease hair damage by infusing your hair with a protective layer, and creating resilient hair in the process.
An easy brush glide formula makes it an ideal styling tool in your kit for smooth and sleek styles.
It contains silk that protects and maintains your hair’s resilience and strength, while building a natural damage-resistant layer, plus vitamins and proteins that add essential moisture, and it’s suitable for any type of hair.
It has an advanced lightweight two-layer protection technology that goes deep into your hair follicles to prevent breakage and split ends while repairing any existing hair damage.
The Argan oil infused formula helps moisturize, condition and transform the hair texture into a soft and silky but smooth finish with a glimmering shine.
It also contains anti-frizz and detangling agents that combat frizz, and make your hair manageable.
You can use it on wigs, permed hair, natural hair and extensions. The Arvazallia signature fragrance in the product leaves your hair smelling good and refreshed.
It leaves your hair looking smooth, moisturizes and replenishes it, while sealing the strands to prevent breakage.
John Frieda has been in the salon industry after opening one on New Cavendish Street in London.
Today, his vision reflects the heritage of the salon as it delivers products for specific styling problems, and transforms them.
It contains Jojoba oil formula that replenishes moisture and silkens the stands, keeping heat damage and frizz out for up to 24 hours.
To use it, spread it liberally on your towel-dried hair and comb through for even distribution.
Once done, blow dry using fingers or a brush, or mist on all sections of your hair before using a flat iron.
The products are tailored for specific hair needs, so John Frieda knows exactly what makes brunettes shine, blondes brighter, and frizz go away, based on an understanding of each individual hair type and its composition.
Its lightweight formula instantly smoothens your hair and protects it from damage by heat without pulling or tugging.
It also combats frizz and leaves your hair styles looking smooth and full of shine.
It’s suitable for use with different lengths of hair, long, medium or even short.
To use it, squeeze some onto your palm, and apply on your hair while it’s still damp before flat ironing it.
It also doubles as a leave-in conditioner, which hydrates your hair and protects it from getting damaged or dry.
It also accelerates drying time and boosts your hair’s shine.
It contains Argan oil, which is known to help restore, enhance and grow your hair.
It’s also a natural moisturizer that repairs brittle, dry and damaged hair from flat iron or sun exposure.
You can use it on all types of hair, including fine or damaged hair for the ultimate hair experience.
The formula replenishes and keeps moisture in, strengthens your hair strands while stimulating its follicles, revitalizes your hair’s shine while repairing damaged hair, and prevents heat damage.
It acts as a natural sunscreen plus it soothes your scalp and helps combat frizz.
You’ll get professional salon level protection as the product is packed with only the best ingredients including Moroccan Argan oil, Island coconut oil, Extra Virgin olive oil, Macadamia Nut oil and Desert Aloe Vera.
Its mild formula is sulfate-free, color-safe, paraben-free and phosphate-free.
The lab tests are based on the average maximum styling tools heat setting of up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and isn’t recommended for use with any tools that have a higher than stated temperature.
Its ingredients don’t contain harsh chemicals or other substances like alcohol that are known to damage hair, plus it’s fragrance free.
Instead of potentially flammable ingredients, it is formulated with water, and contains no artificial colors or preservatives, fillers or additives.
To use it, shake the bottle well for five seconds, and then spray it throughout your slightly damp hair after shampooing and conditioning.
Next, massage the product through your hair using your fingers from the root to the tip and flat iron in small sections with the right temperature setting based on your hair type.
It acts as a shield against the damaging effects of heat styling and seal in shine, while transforming frizzy hair into smooth locks.
Once you shampoo and condition your hair, lock in the style with this heat protectant and smooth it using a flat iron to professional-quality polish.
How To Use A Heat Protectant
Heat protectants should be part of styling your hair, but you also need to know how to apply them to prevent heat damage and brittle strands that can split or snap off.
Before using your flat iron tool to style your hair, do the following:
- Section: Divide your hair into sections so you can spritz each evenly from the roots to the ends, while tracking the spots you’ve applied and those you haven’t. If it’s a spray protectant, hold the bottle up six or eight inches away from the hair and then section it and clip into even parts. You can blow-dry it to cut down on styling time.
- Comb: Comb the hair once you apply the protectant so the product can work through each strand.
- Distribute: Evenly distribute the protectant by working it through your dry or damp locks.
- Wait: Give it a few minutes after you’ve applied the protectant so that it can dry thoroughly, because using a flat iron on hair with moisture will cook it and it ends up dried out or frazzled.
If you can’t go outside without your sunscreen, you definitely want to also protect your hair from the harmful rays of the sun.
The hair, just like your skin, also suffers from heat damage, which is why a heat protectant is good to have, whether you’re going out to the sun or using hot hair tools.
If left unprotected, the high temperatures from your heat styling tools can damage the hair cuticle, leading to breakage, which ultimately leads to a lackluster and unhealthy mane.
Using any of the 11 best heat protectants we’ve mentioned here is one way of styling your hair safely while keeping it protected from the ravaging effects of the sun and heat styling.
They come in the form of sprays, creams and serums that create a film coating on your hair shaft, plus a protective barrier that locks in moisture in the hair cuticle and prevents damage.
It also comes with other benefits like de-frizzing, adding shine, straightening, and much more.
Diana Paul is a certified nutritionist who writes for leading health blogs. She is a master herbalist, yoga teacher, forager, and wild-crafting writer She is focused on helping people transform life blocks to opportunities. Based in NYC, she often holds health seminars and lectures.