It may be obvious, but the more you put heat on your hair, the more likely you are to damage it.
But, styling your hair doesn’t have to be all doom-and-gloom; you can still use your favorite blow-dryer brush or curling iron, so long as you take precautionary steps beforehand.
Enter heat protectants: the spritz-on or run-through product — available in either spray or cream form — that helps protect your hair (especially your ends) from heat damage over time.
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And, as you can imagine, not all were created equal. So, the New York Post put them to the test to find the 11 top ones on the market.
More, we consulted hair experts to get the lowdown on the best possible heat-protectant products for your hair (which, BTW, is pretty crucial to incorporate into your routine).
“I can’t stress enough how important it is to use heat protectant,” celebrity hairstylist Michelle Cleveland told the New York Post. “Think of it like tanning without a sunscreen! When you add a heat protectant product to your hair prior to using a heated appliance, you are adding a layer of protection against damage, burning and hair color fading.”
A-list hairstylist Cory Aaron Scott holds the same sentiment. “It’s important to understand our hair needs proper maintenance,” he adds. “Much like high-end leather goods require proper cleaning, leather protectant, etc — maintaining and improving the quality of our hair is no different.”
Additionally, elements such as sun, heat, pollutants and chemicals in water cause the hair to lose bounce and shine over time, per Scott. “In particular, the heat from blow-drying and curling our hair presents unique challenges,” he says. “That’s why it’s important to use heat protectant products so your hair maintains a healthy natural shine and bounce.” Check out our in-depth FAQ section for more on heat protectants following our top picks.
Here’s the real deal — you want something non-crunchy (like a good hair spray) and ultra-smooth (like an effective leave-in conditioner). You may be looking to eradicate frizz, add a healthy amount of volume and tend to your color-treated hair. We get it, and you’ll find one for every need below.
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How we tested
Ahead of testing the best heat protectants on the market for three years straight, here’s the criteria I followed while reviewing:
- Smoothness: Especially on the ends, I checked for signs of velvet-smooth hair after styling.
- Shine: Who doesn’t want salon-inspired shine? A quality heat protectant will over photogenic hair in a flash.
- Scent: While scent is totally up to preference, it’s a win-win situation if a heat protectant leaves your hair smelling divine. I took this into account while testing.
- Value: Some heat protectants are budget-friendly while others are more of a splurge. Another aspect that’s again, up to preference, I kept the sticker price of the product in mind.
best heat protectant tested
Bumble and bumble Bb. Heat Shield Thermal Protection Mist
- Its proprietary Honey Protective Complex leaves the hair feeling smooth and incredibly soft
- Helps tame frizz
- Versatile on a variety of hair types
Among the throes of heat protectants out there, it’s with great encouragement that I recommend you to pick up the Bumble and bumble Bb. Heat Shield Thermal Protection Mist. After years of testing, this one has that it-factor — the gold standard other formulations should replicate.
Though it’s a bit high in price, it’s fully worth the investment. It’s a multi-purpose product I love spritzing on my hair — from root to tip — and it offers the ideal balance of shine, smoothness and protection my locks need.
The scent is the epitome of “salon-scented” and I find it to help dry and style my hair quicker. Given it’s a travel-friendly spray bottle, too, it’s ideal for on-the-go use (and, you’ll want to bring it everywhere you go).
Best Drugstore Heat Protectant
It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product
- Excellent value for the money
- Helps detangle and protect hair from heat
- The spray applicator can become clogged at times, though not a dealbreaker
Ah, the It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product is bringing me back to the old day. In fact, it’s probably the first heat protectant I’ve ever used — and yes, it still holds a spot in my bathroom cabinet.
With a less-than-$25 price tag for its smallest size, it’s the universal spritz-and-style agent that always leaves my hair shiny, well-detangled and protected. It’s readily available online to order (with more than 7,000 dazzling reviews on Amazon alone) and has a fresh scent that isn’t too overpowering.
Best Heat Protectant Worth the Splurge
Kérastase Genesis Defense Thermique Heat Protecting Spray
- Doubles as a blowout spray
- Leaves the ends of the hair feeling bouncier than before
- Wonderful ingredients and overall scent
- The price point may be unreachable for some
When I first used the Kérastase Genesis Defense Thermique Heat Protecting Spray, I was blown away (literally). The only reason this product isn’t our overall winner, transparently, is for its higher-than-average price point, but it does indeed make a difference to my hair whenever I use it — and I can immediately spot the difference.
For one, I *love* heat protectants that double as blow-out sprays. This helps restore shine and add an irreplaceable smoothness. I love that it’s lightweight, has a heavenly scent and helps protect against breakage. Whenever I use this product, I know it’s doing my hair a service in the long haul — helping it grow and remain nurtured.
The secret? It contains ginger root, coconut oil and citric acid (aka, a trifecta of goodness for your hair). I love how my ends always look bouncy as a result, and I consider it my secret beauty weapon. Truly.
Best Heat Protectant Spray
AG Care Firewall Argan Shine & Flat Iron Spray
- Doesn’t give a “crunchy” texture like some other dry heat protectant sprays
- Cruelty free and vegan, so safe for sensitive scalps
- Helps prevent frizz
- Not as ideal for dry hair, should you want to touch up curls or straighten a day after washing
If there’s a haircare brand I must place on your radar, it’s AG Care, hands down. Its Firewall Argan Shine & Flat Iron Spray is one of my most-regularly used options, particularly for second-day touch-ups and one that serves as a lightweight (yet effective) mist.
Thanks to its superstar argan ingredient, it creates that “hair envy” — that somethin’ something to make your hair feel like you just received a blowout. I personally love how my hair looks natural yet enhanced, and that’s from this product (as well as the brand’s Set It Straight Argan Straightening Lotion, which is also pretty freaking fabulous).
Best Heat Protectant Cream
amika Blockade Heat Defense Serum
- Terrific scent and long-lasting product
- Adds ample nourishment to dry hair
- Ends may look “wet” with overuse, so be sure to apply with caution
For post-shower use, I love reaching for the amika Blockade Heat Defense Serum. Oh, and if I could proclaim my undying love for any brand, it’s amika (which technically, I already did, considering I reviewed its blow-dryer brush and consistently rave about its suite of products all the time).
In short, it’s the ideal consistency that layers beautifully following your shampoo, conditioner, other sprays, hair mousse and leave-in conditioner. For less than $30, it’s also travel-friendly and never weighs my hair down.
Best Heat Protectant for Fine Hair
Drybar Hot Toddy Heat Protectant Mist
- Closest formulation to what you’ll find in a salon
- Scent is magnificent, and the staying protection is quite long
- Not as hydrating to the ends of the hair
One thing about me: I love Drybar. Many hairstyling aficionados know the brand because of its suite of brick-and-mortar salons nationwide (I’m privy to this) but the best feeling is taking the salon home with you.
That’s exactly why the Drybar Hot Toddy Heat Protectant Mist is at the top of my it-list. On days where I feel I want to up the ante on my hair’s volume, this is the heat protectant I reach for. You don’t need a whole lot but it works wonders on the crown of my head to uplift the roots, specifically.
It’s lightweight and, while versatile, has the greatest efficacy on thin to normal hair types where volume is the main concern and end goal. With the brand’s High Tops Self-Grip Rollers ($12), you’re even more golden.
Best Heat Protectant for Color-Treated Hair
Pureology Color Fanatic Multi-Tasking Leave-In Spray
- Price point may be unreachable for some
While I don’t have fully treated hair, I receive semi-permanent hair gloss treatments every now and then. When I want to preserve color and keep shine intact (much like the mission of sulfate-free shampoos I reviewed), the Pureology Color Fanatic Multi-Tasking Leave-In Spray is the one I find to work best.
With nearly 15,000 praising reviews on Amazon alone (and counting!), this particular product is absolutely worth it for its ability to help tame frizz and enhance the shine in my hair which, in turn, makes your hair color pop. It’s also vegan and never ceases to make my hair more tame and manageable when styling.
Infused with camelina oil, coconut oil, olive oil and a signature aromatherapy blend, it sounds like a dream — but I can assure you, it applies even better. Protect your hair and your color with this bad boy and your hair will be *chef’s kiss.*
Best Heat Protectants for Curly Hair
Moroccanoil Perfect Defense Heat Protectant
- Excellent for smoothing out the hair
- Smells sweet and coconut-y
- Enhances natural or styled-in curls
- May be drying on some hair textures
From my experience, Moroccanoil is the Queen of Smooth Hair; all of its products are legendary and offer my hair a noticeable amount of body and overall loveliness whenever I spritz and comb through any of its formulations. As a result, the Moroccanoil Perfect Defense Heat Protectant is a quality option.
The reason it’s labeled as outstanding for curly hair, specifically, is because it always pairs its best with a curling iron or wand. Whenever I style my hair in big, natural, loose waves (which is often), this product is the one that enables me to yield the result I crave. And, it smells like a tropical resort while doing so.
Redken Big Blowout Heat Protecting Blowout Jelly
- Tacky texture smooths over wet hair to make your curls last longer
- Helps tame frizz
- May make the hair look greasy if overused, so be mindful when applying
Viral on TikTok and hailing from a hairdresser-favorite brand, the Redken Big Blowout Heat Protecting Blowout Jelly is one I immediately had to get my hands on (and I did, in less than a day at that). With a lovely cedarwood and orange hybrid scent, it helps offer a fresh shine with an alluring smell payoff.
More, it always helps ward off frizz and humidity. But, the star of the show is its feel; because of its tacky gel consistency, my loose curls (the ones that I love) always stay put for longer throughout the day. For the price, it’s truly incredible.
Best Heat Protectant for Shine
IGK Good Behavior Spirulina Protein Smoothing Spray
- Gentle formulation that doesn’t lead to much product buildup
- Helps smooth hair and add incredible shine
- More sprays are required to be suitably hydrating to your hair
I’ve been in my IGK era — and there’s really no coming off of it. The brand’s Good Behavior Spirulina Protein Smoothing Spray is a fan-favorite and one my hairdresser always has on her counter, too. Its gain-to-fame is largely in part to its keratin-like ability to smooth your locks and add shine.
Because it doesn’t offer a potent scent, it layers after your shampoo, conditioner and hair mask beautifully (in addition to other products you may use). Similar in form and design to Kérastase’s heat protectant — the best splurge pick on this list — it’s a bit more affordable and doesn’t have too noticeable of a scent, if that’s what you prefer.
Best Heat Protectant for Frizz Control
Briogeo Farewell Frizz Blow Dry Perfection Heat Protection Cream
- Silicone-free and helps make the hair both softer and frizz-free
- Serves as an excellent primer for other haircare products and heat stylers
- A bit heavier than other heat protectants, so better for thicker hair types
Just because a product is marketed to prevent frizz doesn’t mean it’s all that — but the Briogeo Farewell Frizz Blow Dry Perfection Heat Protection Cream truly defies this logic. It feels luxurious in the palms of my hands whenever I use it — and it’s the ideal from-shower-to-styling product that is specially targeted for everyone’s least-favorite haircare ailment: frizz.
Be wary when applying, however; a little goes a long way. Too much product can weigh down your hair, so a dime-sized amount is what I find appropriate on my middle-of-the-road thick hair type. It has a lovely scent that isn’t overpowering, and it’s a wonderful product to pick up for a variety of styling needs, too.
Best Expert-Recommended Heat Protectants
Virtue Create 6-In-1 Styler
“My favorite heat protectant product [that] I use in my salon is [the] Virtue 6-in-1 Styler,” Scott said. “The lightweight texture softens the hair, provides excellent shine, hydrates, strengthens, polishes and protects from heat damage. My clients love the premium results and it’s always my go-to product.”
The Virtue 6-in-1 Styler features panthenol (Vitamin B5) which is great for delivering moisture, softness and shine along with Cypress, which is rich in antioxidants and provides light and soothing hydration. Lastly, strengthening polymers that naturally-derived hair fixatives are designed to help style hair.
Oribe Soft Lacquer Heat Styling Spray
Oribe’s Heat Styling Spray is a go-to hair protectant for celebrity hairstylist Sarah Klein who works at Nine Zero One salon in West Hollywood, California.
“This is a favorite of mine that not only provides a layer of protection but [also makes] your curls [and] styles last all day when you use it. It adds shimmer, flexible hold and [has] UV protection,” Klein told The Post.
It’s made with jojoba oil for moisturizing and natural UV protection, sweet almond oil to nourish and protect the hair and other ingredients to make your hair the best it can be.
In Common Beauty Magic Myst
“[The In Common Beauty] Magic Myst is my all-time favorite. It is a weightless, universal elixir that is designed for all hair types and textures,” said Klein, who has worked with Hilary Duff, Nina Dobrev, Julianne Hough and more.
“Magic Myst reinforces, strengthens and seals the cuticle to dramatically repair damage while detangling and protecting against daily heat styling,” Klein explained. “I like to spray it in on wet hair before styling and also as a refresher on days two and three to enhance waves [and] texture while adding another protective barrier, vitamins and UV protectant.”
This product is known for being called “vitamins for your hair,” according to the brand’s website and features rose extract, lavender extract, orange fruit extract and more.
Kristin Ess Hair Style Assist Blow Dry Mist
If you try to use cruelty-free products that aren’t tested on animals, you’ll definitely be a fan of this heat protectant from Kristin Ess.
“The Kristin Ess Style Assist Blow Dry Mist is perfect for traveling and a quick blow out,” Scott said. “It’s extremely affordable and not only do I like the results from this product, I especially love they are a certified cruelty-free brand by PETA’s Caring Consumer Program.”
This heat protectant not only cuts down drying time and adds amazing shine, but it also protects your hair against heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sebastian Trilliant Heat Protectant Spray
Cleveland is also a fan of this heat protectant spray from Sebastian Trilliant.
“My absolute favorite heat protectant on the market is [from] Sebastian Trilliant,” Cleveland said. “It not only protects against heat appliances, [but] it adds shine and SPF to your hair from free radicals such as the sun and environmental protection from fumes and chemical emissions in the air.”
The spray is a multifaceted complex that is specially designed to provide amazing shine with great body, light conditioning and heat protection.
Unite Hair 7SECONDS Glossing Spray
“This is a dry spray that I love to use right before applying heat. It’s an anti-humectant spray that provides the ultimate thermal protection while also adding shine,” said Klien. “It’s also weightless and can be used after heat to add a little extra shine.”
The Unite Hair 7SECONDS Glossing Spray is infused with sunflower seed extract, an antioxidant that provides UV protection and locks in moisture while soothing a dry scalp. The featured vegetable proteins also boost moisture and encourage more resilient hair, as the olive oil works to soften and seal the cuticle.
An FAQ on Heat Protectants
Ahead, our team of hairstylists best explained the ins and outs of heat protectants — and yes, their benefits far exceed protecting from high temps.
What is a heat protectant?
First things first — let’s dial it down to the basics.
“Heat protectant is a hair product designed to protect your hair against damage from heat stylers such as blow dryers, curling irons and flat irons,” Jennifer Korab, New Jersey-based hairstylist, colorist and extension specialist, told The Post.”
And, as Cleveland puts it — “it’s basically the sunscreen of hair care.”
Do heat protectants actually work?
The short answer? Yes, heat protectants definitely work. “The best way to tell if your heat protectant is working is to observe the condition and health of your hair over time,” Korab says. “You will notice improved manageability, enhanced shine, color preservation as well as reduced appearance of damage and split ends.”
What temperature threshold should a heat protectant have?
According to both of our hair experts, a quality heat protectant should protect up to 450 degrees of heat.
What ingredients should I look for in a heat protectant?
When looking at ingredients in a heat protectant, look for ingredients with nourishing and protective properties.
“Look for heat protectants with silicones, ceramides and polymers, as these create a protective barrier on the hair,” Korab narrows down. “Also look for oils such as argon, jojoba, and vitamin E as these have nourishing properties for the hair. Lastly, I recommend looking for UV protectant in your heat protectant. This will help protect damage from the sun as well as protect your hairs color.”
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