Why You Need a Heat Protectant!

by Faith Cancro

If you are one of those people that just skips over the heat protectant when you do your hair… Stop. For a long time, I was skeptical of heat protectant and if it actually did anything, so I get it, but the thing is, it does. If you are going to do nothing else, please at least use heat protectant when applying any heat to your hair.


There is no doubt that heat protectant is a necessity in the routine of anyone who puts heat on their hair. Whether it’s blow drying it every wash or curling it once a week, protect your hair! Heat protectant is like sunscreen for your hair, it does more than you think and the sooner you start using it the better. According to Hairstory, “straighteners and curling irons heat your hair to somewhere between 95 and 170°C” and past 130°C or 266°F, the health of your hair is seriously in jeopardy. That’s not all. Heat can affect the pigments in your hair, your blonde may become brassy, your fantasy color will fade, etc. The heat affects the overall strength of your hair by breaking down keratin proteins and damaging the cuticle. All this leads to breakage, split ends, and weakened elasticity. Plus, we all know heat can dry things out. “Moisture evaporates from the interior of the hair shaft” and dehydrated hair is sad hair (Hairstory).


Heat protectant does essentially act as a hair sunscreen. While sunscreen protects your skin from the UV rays of the sun, heat protectant forms a type of barrier between your hair and whatever heat you are applying. Obviously, some heat protectants work better than others. Certain ingredients have been studied in terms of their successfulness, and it has been found that they form a coat over your hair to separate the heat from the hair. “This means that the hair will heat up gradually rather than suddenly to lessen the shock” which results in less damage overall (Hairstory). Silicones are often used in this process, as they aid in the maintenance of moisture during a gradual heating rather than shocking your hair with so much heat at once. This seal also allows the moisture in the hair to lock in, so excess moisture cannot penetrate the hair, but proper moisture is maintained. This allows frizz to be minimized and styling to last longer. Adding leave-in conditioner helps with the issue of frizz as well (see Conditioner vs. Leave-in Conditioner).


Although heat protectants are pertinent when it comes to protecting your hair, it’s important to remember that they are not magic. “Even the best results show about 50% heat protection at most, and do not offer broad protection from other threats such as pollutants in the air” (Hairstory).


The application is just as important as the product itself. If you’re blow drying, it’s important to apply the protectant evenly throughout damp hair from root to tip. If you’re using a heat tool, such as a curler or straightener, it’s vital to wait until your hair is dry to both apply the protectant and style. Stylists advise that you use quality tools as well. The better the tool, the kinder and gentler it will be on your hair, and if you’re dedicated to styling your hair, the investment will prove to be worth it. Temperature is also a very individualized thing. While nobody should surpass 400°F on their hair, different hair requires different heat. Finer or more damaged hair should be done at a lower temperature than thicker hair. Finer or damaged hair should also not be styled more than a couple times a week. Extended periods of heat are a no as well. “It’s better to use a cooler tool for longer… than a hotter one to save time” (Hairstory). If you notice your hair is become increasingly dry or broken, any stylist would advise some reparative products as well as laying off the heat for a while.   


While blown out, curled hair is nice, it’s also okay to embrace your natural beauty! Laying off heat might be just what your hair needs, especially with all the alternatives there are to heat now. Velcro rollers, heatless satin curlers, braids- get creative with heatless styling! If you are insistent on using heat, that’s fine, just remember to take proper precautions and use these stylist-recommended heat protectants!


Some Warehouse salon favorites are Sebastian Trilliant Thermal Protection and Shimmer-Complex Spray, Paul Mitchell Hot Off The Press Thermal Protection Hairspray, and AG Hair Firewall Flat Iron Spray.



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