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- Heat protectants help prevent damage while heat styling, making them a necessary part of styling.
- They work by forming a very thin film over the follicle that both prevents damage and smooths hair.
- We spoke to professional hairstylists to identify the best heat protectants in 2021.
If you frequently use heat-based tools or dryers to style your hair, heat protectants are an absolute necessity. These sprays add a barrier that coats the hair follicle so that heat-styling tools don’t burn your strands or zap away moisture.
“Often the product will have a formula that will coat the hair shaft and offer heat protection up to 428-degrees,” says Penny James, a trichologist and owner of Penny James Salon. “Then a smoothing effect on the cuticle to give the shine.”
When you continuously use high heat on your hair, it can cause the hair’s keratin proteins to break down and the hair cuticle to crack. It can also cause all moisture to evaporate from the inside-out. For color-treated hair it can even cause the pigments to adopt an unflattering brassy tone. Heat protectants work by forming a very thin film over the follicle of the hair that acts as a protective barrier.
We spoke to James and celebrity stylist Dimitris Giannetos, who regularly works with Camila Cabello and Meghan Trainor, to find out how you should be using heat protectant sprays in order to make your style last. You can check out their tips here, but first, read on for the best heat protectant sprays we’ve tested.
These are the best heat protectant sprays in 2021:
This product contains dimethicone and a couple of other silicones to protect the hair from high heat. It also smells amazing and leaves hair looking super shiny. And if your hair is static-prone, you’re in luck. Davines Hair Shied really cuts down on static, so it’s a perfect heat protectant for winter. Because it’s so lightweight, this is perfect for people with thin and fine hair. It still leaves a nice, even coat throughout your strands that also help prevent humidity.
IGK Good Behavior Spirulina Protein Smoothing Spray
I would say that Good Behavior’s heat protectant is one of the more heavy-duty formulas on the list — in a good way. It works to smooth and hold styles while protecting against heat up to 450-degrees. This is great for all hair types, and should definitely be used during the summer. That said, make sure you aren’t using this every single day as it will create a bit of build-up.
COLOR WOW Dream Coat Supernatural Spray
The first time I used this spray, I was shocked by how thin it is — it has the consistency of water. That said, this is a total game-changer for the summertime, and Giannetos agrees. “It makes the hair so shiny, it looks like glass,” he says. While you have to make sure to section-off your hair as your spraying this product in order to evenly coat it, it really holds your style for days on end.
CHI 44 Iron Guard Thermal Protection Spray
This is the first heat protectant I ever used. Chi’s Iron Guard Thermal Protection Spray smells amazing, and it doesn’t have any buildup issues, so you can use it multiple days in a row without worry. It’s great for every hair type, but because it coats the hair so well, it can definitely feel a little damp when applying. So if you have very fine hair, it’s a good idea to wait a few seconds after applying before using your hot tools.
Oribe Balm D’Or Heat Styling Shield
This heat protectant from Oribe smells great and adds in just enough texture so that you feel like you really have some hold in your hair as you’re styling. It also produces substantial shine and softness that really lasts. This is especially great for those that have super fine or greasy hair — even those looking for a dry shampoo alternative. It really coats each hair follicle to add both texture and heat protection.
R+Co Bleu Hypersonic Heat Styling Mist
Beauty fans are most likely familiar with R+Co already, but the brand has recently launched a couture line: R+Co Bleu. This mist from the line, in particular, is phenomenal. It offers heat protection up to 450-degrees and leaves the hair feeling flexible so that you can update your ‘do over the next few days. This is great for all hair types, as it coats each strand evenly and provides a texture that isn’t super drying. It also helps keep styles looking great by acting as a humidity shield.
OUAI Heat Protection Spray
Like all Ouai products, this heat protection spray smells absolutely divine. The nozzle is super effective and evenly coats the hair so well that you wind up using less product. It definitely makes the hair much shinier and humidity-proof.
This is a perfect spray for fine to thick hair. It will add volume, shine, and a smell so divine you’ll want to spray it all over. Just make so to position the bottle at least six inches from your head as you apply — it applies pretty heavily if you don’t.
Living proof Perfect Hair Day Heat Styling Spray
In addition to acting as a heat shield, Living Proof’s Perfect Hair Day Heat Styling Spray almost works as a texturizer and dry shampoo. I’ve noticed that my hair appears to stay cleaner for longer when I use it. In fact, it’s great on hair that’s greasy or working toward oily. If your hair is freshly shampooed, it might be a little drying.
Amika The Wizard Detangling Hair Primer
Not only does this evenly coat your hair to protect it from heat styling tools, but it’s also great when used as a detangler as well. Make sure that you apply it to your hair when you’re fresh out of the shower, as that’s how it works best. It’s really great for all hair types — even hair that is damaged or needs a trim. Its detangling properties make it so much easier to drag a comb through, so you never feel like you’re pulling on your knots.
Gisou Propolis Infused Heat Protecting Spray
Just because this product is all-natural doesn’t mean you have to worry about it being less effective. It’s great for all hair types, but particularly for those hoping to really prevent additional damage. In addition to protecting your hair from heat styling tools, Propolis’ spray is great for staving off sun exposure on your strands, which can be drying and damaging. Make sure you spray it on when your hair is wet from the shower so that it’s fully coated as soon as you hit it with a blow dryer.
Ghd Heat Protectant Spray
Ghd’s spray provides such a lightweight, even coating that you’ll hardly notice it at all. It’s great at protecting from harsh hot tools — it truly feels like it even distributes the heat for faster styling. This incredibly lightweight spray is great for all hair types and protects against humidity.
Bumble and Bumble Bb.Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat/UV Protective Primer
This is one of the best options if your hair is really dried out from past damage — or from putting off a haircut. It’s intended to be applied to damp hair, so it’s best used directly out of the shower. Like the name suggests, Bumble Bumble’s Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil also contains lots of oils so that moisturize your hair and keeps frizz at bay— even if you’re going to be outside or exposed to humidity. It also protects against UV rays and even works as a detangler.