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How Does Heat Protectant Work & Do I Really Need It?

When it comes down to the early morning rush, we can all agree that we tend to cut corners; you may have woken up to an ‘oh crap’ moment that you forgot to wash your hair!

Then when it comes to styling, you have around 10 minutes until you have to leave; you stare at the heat protection, thinking, do I really need it?

It’s fine to skip it one time, right??

While one time may not hurt your hair, when we skip something out of our routine once, we get into a habit of keep skipping it because we run out of time. 

This will only wreak havoc on your hair.

You should never skip your heat protectant; it is a crucial part of your hair routine, especially if you’re styling your hair with heat– unless you want split ends and breakage.

No matter if you have time or don’t, you should never skip your heat protectant. Today I’m going to show you how heat protectant works and why it’s a must in your hair care!

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty details. 

heat protection

What Is Heat Protectant?

Before we delve into what heat protectant does and why you need it, let’s talk about what heat protectant even is. 

Heat protectant is a godsend for protecting your strands of hair from damaged caused by heat styling, whether that is simple blow-drying your hair or using a flat or curling iron. 

It creates a seal over the ends of your hair and acts as a shield for your hair. The majority of heat protectants will protect your hair up to 450°F/230°C. They’ll also last up to 4 hours. 

You will typically find that heat protectant is available in a spray, cream, oil, or serum formula. They can also contain ingredients that help tame frizz, condition, protect from humidity and even add shine. 

It provides a protective barrier on the hair shaft to protect the cuticles from high levels of heat. It is a leave-in conditioner used just before heat styling.

It can even enhance the effectiveness of heated styling tools as it takes less time to style your tresses, reducing the chance of damage– it is a win-win, really.

It helps keep hair looking sleek, soft, and shiny, making styling your hair easier. 

Benefits Of Heat Protectant For Hair:

The most obvious benefit of heat protectants for your hair is that it protects your hair from heat styling, but that isn’t the only benefit. 

Heat protectants also help smooth the cuticle on your hair shaft, making it less porous and less prone to frizz in humid weather. 

If you have high porosity hair and struggle to retain moisture because the cuticle is lifted, you should never skip using a heat protectant; it can help seal the cuticle. 

Not only does it seal the cuticle, though, heat protectants also help restore moisture in your hair; it will leave your hair looking conditioned, even after heat styling. 

Heat protectants also protect your hair from moisture loss caused by excessive use of high heat, humidity, and living in a dry environment– they act as a protective layer. 

By restoring moisture and retaining moisture, can also help tame frizz and prevent heat-related frizz. It leaves hair feeling more manageable and easier to detangle. 

heat protectant

How Do Heat Protectants Work?

Heat protectants act as a barrier between your hair and the styling tool you’re using; they work by sealing in moisture and protecting the hair shaft from extreme heat. 

They smooth the cuticle, making your hair look and feel soft; they contain humectants like panthenol and propylene glycol, which help retain moisture and tame frizz. 

Some heat protectants also contain amino acids like keratin to help strengthen the hair shaft. They will contain antioxidants and natural oils like aloe vera to seal the hair’s cuticle and protect it from heat. 

One ingredient I would reccomend you avoid is non-water-soluble silicones, especially if you use sulfate-free shampoo. Silicones leave a film on the hair and will cause buildup if not removed with a sulfate shampoo. 

For some hair types, like curly hair, sulfates can be extremely stripping to the hair, so I recommend you avoid these ingredients. 

Does Heat Styling Damage Hair?

Straighteners and curling irons tend to heat your hair between 100 – 230ºC / 200-485º F, and when your hair is heated above 130ºc/266ºf, this is when your hair is damaged.

Without heat protection, the color pigments in your hair may start to change; blonde hair will start to look brassy and vibrant colors will start to look dull.

The keratin portions in your hair will begin to break down, which provides your hair with strength and elasticity. This will cause breakage, fraying, and split ends.

When heat is applied to your hair shaft, it causes moisture to evaporate from the interior layers. If you heat wet hair with a flat iron or curling iron, you may notice steam; this is when the heat is causing the most damage.

It causes breakage and split ends as the steam exits your hair. Heat protectants are a must as they will prevent all related heat damage by providing a protective barrier.

They also help absorb moisture and retain moisture in the hair shaft, the key to healthy hair.

Different Types Of Heat Protectant For Hair:

When styling your hair, you can use different types of products as heat protection from high temperatures and your styling tools.

Heat protectant spray:

This is the most common product to protect hair from heat damage. It is fairly simple. It comes in a spray bottle, and you apply it to damp hair before you style your hair.

You’ll find that most heat protectant sprays contain hydrolyzed wheat protein, which helps protect the hair strand and strengthen the cuticle.

Personally, a heat protectant spray is the best heat protectant against heat styling tools; it leaves hair feeling nourished and tends to feel very lightweight without leaving a greasy residue.

Heat protectant cream:

Using a heat protection cream is ideal for those that have parched ends. Many curly girls use this form of heat protection as they are extremely moisturizing.

If you have quite thick, coarse hair, a heavier product may be better for you, especially if you have curls. Despite many curly girls not styling their hair, it can be useful to protect the strand from heat damage through diffusing.

There are some pretty incredible heat protectants for curly hair on the market. 

Additionally, if you fancy a change, using a cream can weigh down your curls and protect your hair, making it easy to straighten and style.

Heat protectant oil:

A heat protectant oil helps reduce any potential damage to your hair when applied or using a heated tool. Some prefer a spray, while others prefer a leave-in treatment.

However, when I think of oil, I think of frying; while essential oils are brilliant for nourishing hair, I am not a fan of using a serum or oil as a form of heat protection from styling tools.

frizzy hair x2

Are Heat Protectants Bad For Hair?

Absolutely not; they’re actually perfect for your hair; they not only help prevent damage but also nourish your hair strands.

The only time heat protectant may be bad for your hair is if it contains silicones; if it contains silicones, this can lead to buildup on your hair, especially if you use sulfate-free shampoo.

Silicones and waxes can be removed with sulfates, but sulfates can be very damaging for your hair; they can strip the hair of natural oils, so I would recommend staying away from silicones and staying away from sulfates.

Silicones help retain moisture and also contain ingredients that are really hydrating for your hair. Ingredients like amino acids also help strengthen the hair, which is a huge bonus too.

How To Use Heat Protectant Spray:

Using heat protectant when you style your hair is super easy and quick. Once you’ve washed your hair with shampoo and conditioner, use heat protection on your damp hair on the mid-lengths and ends.

Try to avoid the scalp as this can leave your hair looking greasy; comb through the ends to ensure they are evenly covered.

If you divide your hair into sections, you can ensure you cover every section and protect your hair more than just spraying a couple of pumps on the top layer of your hair.

Once you’ve combed through your heat protectant spray, you should blow-dry and straighten your hair.

Heat protectants will last for 4 hours after application, but it’s recommended to apply heat straight away once absorbed for the most protection.


So there you have, this is why you should never skip your heat protectant. Heat protectants have so many benefits that people often forget about. 

They will not only strengthen your hair but also nourish the ends and tips, leaving your hair shinier, more manageable, and healthier. 

It’s as easy as spraying a couple of pumps on the mid-lengths and ends of your hair and combing it through for even coverage before using your styling tools. 

Just using a heat protectant spray will massively improve the health of your hair. 

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