11 Heat Protectants That Will Shield Your Hair From Hot Tool Damage
Yes, you need to use one.
Admit it: We all low-key love hot tools. Curling irons, straighteners, and blow dryers can totally transform our hair from a frizzy mess to bouncy and shiny. Whether we want to add life and volume or create sleek shine, hot tools are sometimes the only way we can get our stubborn hair textures to oblige. But it’s no secret that subjecting our strands to high heat on the regular can wreak havoc on their vibrancy and health, leading to dull, brittle hair and even split ends. One way to save your strands from sizzling under the scorching heat? A heat protectant.
By coating the hair with ingredients like silicones and nourishing amino acids, heat protectants work to seal the hair cuticle and protect it from losing moisture and elasticity due to contact with high heat. And as any good hairstylist will tell you, they’re a must to apply before cranking up the degrees on your straightener or curling iron.
“It is imperative that everyone use a product on their hair simply to protect from the natural elements and excess heat,” says celebrity hairstylist Clariss Rubenstein. “Every hair type needs a barrier between itself and solutions and other things that can penetrate the hair and possibly cause damage. And the right heat protectant can feel like it’s not even there.”
Just keep in mind that while heat protectants can provide a shield for contact with high heat, they can only reduce the amount of damage caused by heat styling—not completely protect your hair. So while the only way to really eliminate damage is to put down the hot tools, these sprays are an easy solution for when you just have to have those perfect flat iron curls.
Best Heat Protectants for Hair:
It's A 10 Miracle Blow Dry H20 Shield
$$26.99Shop it Ulta
Shield your hair from heat with nourishing ingredients like sunflower seed, green tea, and aloe vera extracts, which coat strands and lock in moisture and shine. “It reduced the blowout time and my hair felt silky and smooth after just one use,” one tester said during our annual Beauty Crush Awards, reporting that after a few hours her hair was still frizz-free.
Oribe Invisible Defense Universal Protection SprayShop it Amazon
This protection spray keeps hair safe from thermal damage up to 450°F and shields it from harmful UV rays and pollution. The product is packed with nourishing ingredients, like rosemary leaf extract to protect hair from free radical damage, glycerin to hydrate and soften hair, a vitamin B blend to condition and strengthen it against breakage, and caffeine to rejuvenate hair follicles and energize the scalp.
L’Oréal Paris Sleek It Iron Straight Heat SprayShop it Amazon
Rubenstein loves this drugstore beauty buy for a smooth look. She says that she uses it when she wants to make her A-list clients’ hair super shiny while still looking clean (not greasy or weighed down) with lots of movement. Antioxidants from Camelina sativa seed oil protect the hair while calming frizz and flyaways, and hair is protected up to 450ºF. If you’re a frequent flat iron user, Rubenstein recommends you give this affordable spray a try.
Biolage Thermal Active Spray
$$18.50Shop it Ulta
Another favorite of Rubenstein’s, this heat protectant is packed with botanicals, including blue agave nectar, which hydrates and treats hair while guarding against heat styling. “I love using it when I curl or wave hair because it boosts volume,” Rubenstein tells us. “It has a nice medium hold without feeling stiff or sticky. I’d recommend you spray a little on damp hair, blow-dry, and add a little more before using your curling or flat iron.”
Briogeo Farewell Frizz
$$24Shop it Nordstrom
This is a great option for people with super thick and coily hair for its super hydrating ingredients, such as coconut and Argan oil. Plus, the creamy consistency helps tame flyaways and frizz.
Pantene Heat Primer Thermal Heat Protectant
$$4.99Shop it Target
The nutrient-rich formula features micro-polymers that help to shield strands from heat damage and enhance shine, so hair stays healthy and soft.
Joico Defy Damage Protective Shield
$$24Shop it Ulta
This heat protectant spray is truly a damage defense hero. Its ability to shield hair from UVA and UVB damage (yes, your hair can be damaged just by walking outside or being in the sun!), along with protecting it from daily heat styling is seriously impressive. It contains moringa seed oil and arginine for healthier, stronger, more vibrant hair.
It’s a 10 Blow Dry Miracle Glossing Leave-In
$$24.99Shop it Ulta
When applied to damp hair before blow-drying, this award-winning leave-in spray protects hair from high temps and leaves it shiny and soft. It uses sunflower seed extract, a natural antioxidant, to guard against color fading, UV rays, and heat damage. Nourishing argan oil provides an unbeatable shine boost, too.
TRESemmé Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray
$$5.49Shop it Ulta
This tried and true drugstore heat protectant stands up against curling irons, flat irons, and blow dryers because it uses heat-activated technology to seal in the hair cuticle and fight damaging friction. We love it for the trigger spray that offers easy all-over misting, plus the lightweight, non-greasy formula that doesn’t weigh hair down.
CHI 44 Iron Guard Thermal Protection Spray
$$16Shop it Ulta
CHI’s weightless heat protectant formula is clearly made by the makers of hot tools. This spray does not play when it comes to protection. It contains hydrolyzed silk that works with your hair’s natural structure to build strength and resilience while improving moisture and shine. Use it on wet or dry hair before styling for heat protection from the inside out.
Not Your Mother’s Beat The Heat Thermal Styling Sheild Spray
$$6.99Shop it Ulta
Infused with natural sunflower and vitamins A and E, this affordable heat protectant spray conditions and protects hair while also shielding it from UV rays.