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Best Heat Protectant for Hair
Here are the facts: if you apply heat to style your hair, you need a heat protectant. I think most of us familiar with heated styling have wound up with “burnt” hair before.
It’s when you apply too much heat, or apply it too often, and so your hair winds up looking crispy. That admittedly terrible looking hair can be avoided by applying a heat protectant before styling.
It can be an easy step to skip to save on time, or money, or effort, but don’t. Protecting your hair from heated styling is important, and can even have added benefits for your hair besides minimizing heat damage.
What is a heat protectant?
You can think about heat protectant like primer for your hair. In the same way that primer helps make sure your make up goes on well and stays in place, heat protectant makes your styling better. It protects your hair so the heat doesn’t cause damage and frizz, which makes your overall style better.
It may seem like heat protectant is just another unnecessary product for an unnecessary step, but that’s not the case. The key is that heat protectants work both inside and outside hair. Most advertise that they help work inside the hair follicle to strengthen it, which helps prevent breakage and split ends.
They also seal the outside of hair so that less strain and heat reaches inside. If you regularly use heat on your hair, find a good heat protectant. With the right product, you’ll notice a difference in the way your hair feels and looks.
A lot of heat protectants on the market can also perform other roles, so you’re getting more out of that one purchase.
Things to look for when buying a heat protectant:
- Make sure your heat spray protects up to 450 degrees. Think of it like SPF; the higher the better. You may not be cranking your flat iron all the way up to that temperature, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need margin for error. Plus, a lot of times you end up making multiple passes over one spot of hair. There’s no reason not to make sure you’re getting the best protection.
- Try to find one that doesn’t have a strong residue. A lot of protectants can leave a sticky or slippery residue on your hands, hair, and anything else they manage to touch. Of course, every spray is going to have some level of residue. The point is to find one that you’re comfortable with. Personally, I don’t mind if the spray makes surfaces a little slippery. The tacky, sticky feeling that some sprays leave is my least favorite.
- Find one that has added moisturizing ingredients. A good thing to check for is labels that say heat protectant and conditioner, or ones that contain natural oils. Moisture is key for hair the same way it is for your skin. If you want to get a truly flawless finish on your hair, make sure it’s getting enough moisture. This is true for all hair types, but especially true for curly hair. It’s difficult for the natural oils in hair to make it all the way down curls. If you’re going to add heat on top of that, you definitely need to moisturize. Getting a heat protectant with conditioner for your hair will also help you avoid that overheated, dead hair look.
- This one isn’t really necessary, but having a spray that doubles as a detangler can also be really helpful. I think we’ve all been there with a blow dryer, when the brush or comb gets stuck halfway through making a pass. It’s a huge pain to stop, detangle, and keep going. The same is true for straightening irons. My hair is a bit difficult, so there have been plenty of times when I couldn’t separate it into sections, or I found myself making a pass with the iron over a knot of hair. Having a heat protectant with a detangler makes it easier to manage your hair even as it’s blowing around or being straightened.
- If you blow dry your hair often, a good product to look for would be heat protectant with a quick dry formula. These are supposed to minimize how long it takes to style wet or damp hair by helping it dry faster. It’s great because it allows you to cut down on your hair’s heat exposure. Also, it’s really great for people who like to wash their hair before work.
- Check to see if the spray works for your hair type. A lot of brands won’t specify what hair type they work for. It’s usually safe to assume that means they work for all hair types, but if your hair is very thick or coarse, it may be better to get a product specifically for your hair type. Tight curls, coarse hair, and thick hair all look amazing with a little extra love, so consider buying a formula specifically for your hair type. As someone with very needy hair, I can say that this usually works better for me.
Here are some options for heat protectants if you’re not sure where to start:
If you prefer an all-natural heat protectant for your hair, consider this argan oil spray. Argan oil is very popular conditioner ingredient in moisturizers and conditioners, because it works really well. And most of the argan products I’ve tried on my hair don’t weigh it down, or make it look extra oily. This spray also doubles as a leave-in conditioner and a detangler. It’s the sort of product that you’ll probably end up using daily, even if you’re not blow-drying or straightening your hair. The added oil for conditioning also makes this a great heat protectant for coarse or very curly hair. And if all of that wasn’t enough for you, this hair protectant is also cruelty free!
If you’re after a good heat protectant for straitening, why not go right to the source? CHI is known for making classic flat irons, so they should know how to protect your hair. This product seems more like a straightforward heat spray, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you already have a favored conditioner, you may not need too much extra in other products. This spray is also touted as having no build-up. That makes it a good candidate for a non-sticky option.
For all the budget shoppers like me out there, L’Oreal is a good option. I like this product in particular, because it has the quick dry function. It’s also marketed as being for blow drying specifically, so if that’s your focus, it might be worth trying. (It does say though that it can be used for all heat styling tools.)
This hair protectant covers pretty much any base you many need covered when caring for your hair. It contains natural oil, but not just one. It has macadamia, coconut, extra virgin olive, and other oils. It’s good for dyed hair, soothes your scalp, and even has sunscreen! I’m not sure how sunscreen for your hair works, but it doesn’t sound like something to refuse. Plus, this brand is cruelty free.
I like this spray because it’s listed as being specifically for medium to coarse hair. It also says it detangles and helps protect against humidity, which can be particularly annoying for those hair types. It also says it cuts drying time by 50%; that alone makes it worth to try for me. (That, and you can get a smaller size for a pretty cheap price.) The only thing I don’t like about this spray is that it only protects up to 428 degrees. That’s a pretty low temperature for coarse and medium hair types, which typically respond better to high temperatures.
This spray specifically says that it works for all hair textures, which is great. If you’re just really not sure what will work for your hair type, or what your hair type even is, this is probably a good option. It protects up to 450 degrees, and they also cut out sulfates, parabens, and gluten for anyone who has been avoiding those.
If you’ve never used a heat protectant with your hair, now is definitely the time to start. Keeping hair protected from damage and moisturized is necessary even without heat, so how much more should you care for your hair if you style with heat? Most heat protectants can also be used as replacements for other products. You can get ones with added conditioner, ones that double as detanglers, and ones that will help your hair dry faster. There’s a heat protectant out there for any hair, or any need.