Amazing Benefits Of Heat Protectants For Hair & How To Use Them

Protect your tresses from heat and manage your frizz with this essential product!

Medically reviewed by Vincent MarinVincent Marin, MD, FACS
By Arshiya SyedaArshiya Syeda  • 

Hair cannot withstand the excessive heat generated by heat styling products and, in the process, may get damaged. Heat protectants can go a long way in protecting your hair from the damage of blow-dryers, straighteners, and curling irons. They add a layer of protection to your mane, which reduces the negative effects of heat products and boosts hair health. In addition, these protectants keep excessive heat away from your hair.

In this article, we look into the benefits of heat protectants, how to use them to get maximum benefits, and all other related information. Keep scrolling to know more.

What Is A Heat Protectant?

Heat protectant spray bottle with a sleek wig

Image: Shutterstock

A heat protectant adds moisture to your hair and forms a protective barrier. It reduces moisture loss caused by heat applied to your hair shafts. It prevents hair breakage and damage (1). It also minimizes heat damage due to blow-dryers and hair straighteners.

Heat protectants are leave-in products used before styling your hair. They are available in cream, spray, or oil formulas. They can condition your hair, tame frizz, and boost hair shine.

How Does A Heat Protectant Work?

The ingredients in a heat protectant form a thin film on the hair. This film distributes heat evenly and slows down heat conduction.

Heat protectants can benefit your hair in more ways than one. We have briefly discussed them below.

Benefits Of Heat Protectants

Woman holding a heat protectant spray and a hair straightener

Image: Shutterstock

  • Heat protectants smoothen the cuticles of your hair shaft. They make your hair less porous and less prone to frizz in humid weather (1).
  • They restore hair moisture. Using one before styling can keep your hair conditioned (2).
  • They prevent moisture loss from factors like dehydration, high heat, or a dry environment. They work by adding a protective layer to your hair shaft.
  • They lubricate your hair and make it more manageable. Your hair will be easy to detangle.

What Happens If You Skip A Heat Protectant?

Heat from styling tools can dry your hair strands, cause breakage, and make your hair look dull. Your hair comes in direct contact with heat while styling. Skipping a heat protectant means you are allowing the heat from styling tools to strip the color pigments of your hair. The heat can also break down the keratin bonds that otherwise boost hair strength and elasticity. Weak keratin bonds can open your hair cuticles and cause your hair to go dry and frizzy.

Now you know why using a heat protectant is a no-brainer. Its benefits extend beyond protecting your hair from the heat. But here is the thing – using a heat protectant the right way will give you the best results. We have discussed the same below.

How To Use It?

Woman applying heat protectant before styling

Image: Shutterstock

Apply a heat protectant to damp hair before you style. Damp/conditioned hair promotes better absorption of the product. Begin styling once your hair is dry. Use the right tools with ceramic or tourmaline plates that minimize hair damage. If you have dry hair, apply the heat protectant while your hair is wet and top it off with a good conditioning serum before you start styling. Never style your hair while it is wet. Hair is brittle when wet and can break when styled.

Note: You can use heat protectants every time you style your hair. However, minimize using styling tools to reduce hair damage.

Heat protectants salvage your hair from the harsh styling tools. However, not all are made alike. The best heat protectants have certain parameters in place. You must look for the same before making a purchase.

Quick Tip
Choose your heat protectant based on the temperature at which you wish to heat-style your hair. Not all heat protectants offer the same level of protection.

What Should You Look For In A Heat Protectant?

Woman comparing different heat protectant products in a mart aisle

Image: Shutterstock

Following is the list of ingredients you can check for in your heat protectant.

Silicones: Heat protectants are generally made with a combination of two silicones – Cyclomethicone and dimethicone. While Cyclomethicone moisturizes your hair, dimethicone coats it and prevents moisture loss(3). Dimethicone forms a layer on your hair and makes your cuticles lie flat. This keeps your hair from turning frizzy. You can find this ingredient in your everyday conditioner too. However, those with oily hair must go for a product with minimum silicone (as it can build-up in hair and make hair greasier).

Quick Tip
You can leave in conditioning oils like coconut, grapeseed, sunflower, almond, or avocado oils as heat protectants once in a while.

Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein: Hydrolyzed wheat protein conditions hair (4). It also takes the place of the natural hair proteins in the hair, which otherwise can get broken due to heat.

PVP/DMAPA Acrylates Copolymer: This copolymer, like silicones, helps protect hair and detangles it. Some research shows this copolymer may protect hair from thermal damage (5).

Quaternary 70: This is found in high-end products that may protect hair from heat damage (5). It keeps hair frizz-free after heat styling. It also keeps your hair smooth until the next wash.

Note: Always consider sulfate- and paraben-free formulas. Go for a color-safe hair protectant if you have color-treated hair. You can also look for propylene glycol and keratin that retain hair moisture and strengthen your hair.

A heat protectant shields your hair from heat damage caused by styling tools. It prevents moisture loss, color fading and hair breakage that are commonly caused due to heat. They coat hair with moisture, forming a protective barrier. Some heat protectants have additional benefits such as curbing frizz, or conditioning hair. It can also prevent the overall damage that styling tools cause such as dryness and decreased hair shine. They smoothen hair, making it more manageable and easier to detangle. To find a good heat protectant, look for the ingredients mentioned above such as silicones. Now that you know exactly how beneficial heat protectants are, the next time you style your hair, don’t forget to use them!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a heat protectant every day?

Using heat protectant every time you heat-style your hair will prevent hair damage. However, styling your hair with heat daily can make your hair dry, brittle, and prone to breakage. So, it is best to avoid heat styling every day. In addition, it will limit your usage of heat protectant, which ultimately contains chemicals.

Is heat protectant spray or cream better?

Both heat protectant spray and cream have their pros and cons. While the spray is easy to use, applying the cream can be a hassle. However, heat protectant cream is known to provide better protection than the spray.

Key Takeaways

  • The hair damage and breakage is the bare minimum with hair styling tools if you use heat protectants.
  • Applying a heat protectant on damp hair is always recommended for effective absorption.
  • You should look for silicones, hydrolyzed wheat protein, PVP/DMAPA acrylates copolymer, and quaternary 70 in a good heat protectant.


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