These protectants prove that heat styling and heat damage don't have to go hand-in-hand.
As a seasoned silk press veteran, I shiver at the thought of myself skipping using heat protectant altogether. Growing up, I was accustomed to oil-based protectants, which do the job, but can make your hair greasy if you're heavy-handed with them. Once I started doing my own hair, I swore off protectants altogether to keep my blowouts extra bouncy. Flash forward 10 years and there are parts of my head where my curls have completely lost shape because of the prolonged direct contact with hot tools, which I can confirm is far from hot. I was flat ironing my hair raw.
In the spirit of being older and wiser, I’ve made it a priority to guard my curls with a heat protectant every time I reach for my blowdryer. As it turns out, my blowouts are better for it. Even if your hot tools aren’t in heavy rotation, it’s still important to consider how heat affects our hair in other ways (ahem, UV rays). The heat protectants below are great for function and feel—they shield hair from direct heat damage but will also leave your hair silkier. Ahead, the top heat protectants you should work into your next blowout.
In my humble opinion, Oribe is always worth the hype, and their Invisible Defense Universal Protection Hair Spray is no different. One spritz of the lightweight formula coats tresses in a plant-based collagen that softens on contact and seals in moisture. Meanwhile, the spray is also packed with a UV Absorber and rosemary leaf extract to prevent elemental damage.
This formula is like sunscreen for your hair. With a similar texture to a leave-in conditioner or a styling cream, a few dollops moisturize thirsty strands while leaving behind a UV filter to keep hair color from fading and stave off harsh heat damage, whether from a day in the sun or a few too many passes with a straightener.
When you struggle with frizz, it creates a vicious cycle of overexposure to heat. Daily flat ironing feels more justifiable when it’s just to smooth out frizziness, right? That’s where Bumble and Bumble’s heat primer comes in. The formula uses a blend of coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and macadamia oil to create lasting smoothness so your flat iron can take a few days off.
I totally trust a sunscreen brand to create a stellar heat protectant. Sun Bum's formula takes a two-fold approach to protect hair from sun rays and keep heat damage at bay using noni fruit and sea kelp extract. On top of that, I can’t get over the summery coconut scent.
This Olaplex serum is the latest addition to No. 9's lineup. The first time I worked it into my blowout regimen, I was impressed by how much faster my blowdry time was. I typically take almost 40 minutes to blow out my 3c/4a hair (or the entire duration of a Selling Sunset episode) and this cut it down by one-third. The serum is lightweight but packs a serious punch, landing somewhere between a leave-in and a traditional heat protectant. Like the rest of the brand's lineup, this serum uses Olaplex’s patented bond builder to repair damage but also seals hair with red algae extract to block out environmental pollutants and free radicals.
Last year, Ouai relaunched their Memory Mist with a more straightforward moniker: the Heat Protection Spray. And to be honest, it lives up to its new name—shielding hair from up to 450 degrees with just a spritz. If you’re finding that your styles have been lacking longevity, this is the product to reach for. The formula is activated by heat to lock in textures you create with your blowdryer, flat iron, or curlers while leaving hair with founder Jen Atkin’s signature super sleek finish.
Balmain has a Sun Protection Spray for days outside and an OG Thermal Protection Spray for direct heat contact. The latter has been the subject of rave reviews thanks to the ultra-glossy cast that it leaves behind.
I was first introduced to Mizani’s Heat Screen when my stylist gave me a few spritzes of the rose water-rich formula before beginning my blowout a few years ago. The results wowed me, but I chalked it up to it being used by a pro. Then once I got my hands on it, I realized that the spray was worth the hype. The formula is tailored to textured hair, so it can help to transform tresses without damaging curls and coils.
If a straightener is in your daily styling rotation, you’re familiar with the unpleasant aroma of flat-ironed hair. Moroccanoil is the best at masking that. If your concern is keeping your color intact, the Protect and Prevent Spray is designed to prevent fading and brassiness from hot tools and sun exposure. The formula even includes sunscreens to help hair absorb UV rays sans damage.
The best part about this weightless protectant is that it’s multifunctional—a tiny pump before blowdrying can shield hair from up to 450 degrees of heat. After your blowout, it’s a frizz-banishing finishing serum. And even when you work it in pre- and post-hot tools, the finish is glossy, not greasy.
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