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The 12 Best Heat Protectants That Shield, Protect, and Strengthen Your Hair

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Whenever hot tools like blow dryers, flat irons, or curling irons are in play, heat protection needs to be right there alongside them. This essential styling product is key to hydrating and protecting your hair against thermal damage that can ultimately cause dryness, breakage, and split ends—aka hair concerns that get a big no thanks from us.

While air-drying your hair will always be the least damaging option, there are hundreds of heat protection sprays and serums that help to keep your hair sufficiently shielded from the damage these tools can cause. Some even come with additional benefits to help fight frizz, detangle, boost shine, and more.

Ready to find the perfect heat protectant for your hair type? We've highlighted 12 of the best heat-protection sprays below.

1. Best Shine-Boosting Heat Protectant:

IT'S A 10 Miracle Blow Dry Glossing Leave-In

IT'S A 10 Miracle Blow Dry Glossing Leave-In
Courtesy of IT'S A 10

If you tend to heat style your hair with a round brush and blowdryer, this protective leave-in conditioner and gloss treatment will give your hair a shine that’s totally shampoo commercial–worthy. The sulfate-free formula uses moisturizers like argan oil and silk amino acids to hydrate and strengthen the hair, and it also uses smoothing agents to defend against heat and dramatically boost shine for a high-gloss, super silky finish.

2. Best Heat Protectant for All Hair Types:

MOROCCANOIL Perfect Defense

MOROCCANOIL Perfect Defense
Courtesy of MOROCCANOIL

This award-winning heat protectant features argan oil as its hero ingredient. The fatty acid–rich natural oil not only protects and deeply nourishes strands but also actively helps to heal damaged hair. Whether you have curly hair or fine hair, this weightless oil is strong enough to sufficiently protect without weighing your style down.

3. Best Heat Protectant for Gray Hair:

ORIBE Balm D'Or Heat Styling Shield

ORIBE Balm D'Or Heat Styling Shield
Courtesy of ORIBE

If you’re rocking a head of partial or fully gray hair, you'll want to make sure you're giving this hair type a little extra love, as gray hair is notoriously drier and more fragile than pigmented hair. This heat protectant from ORIBE shields hair from temperatures up to 450°F while also taming frizz, flyaways, and wiry grays.

4. Best for Frizzy Hair:

BRIOGEO Farewell Frizz Blow Dry Perfection and Heat Protectant Crème

BRIOGEO Farewell Frizz Blow Dry Perfection and Heat Protectant Crème
Courtesy of BRIOGEO

This lightweight formula features a nourishing blend of natural ingredients to create the ultimate defense against both frizz and heat damage. Antioxidant-rich rosehip oil helps to fight off free radical damage, argan oil intensely hydrates and diminishes frizz, and coconut oil seals in moisture to protect your hair from breakage caused by hot tools. This is a great daily go-to for all hair types—straight, wavy, curly, or coily.

5. Best-Smelling Heat Protectant:

OUAI Heat Protection Spray

OUAI Heat Protection Spray
Courtesy of OUAI

This lightweight spray keeps color-treated or keratin-treated hair safely shielded from temperatures up to 450°F. Mist it all over your hair to coat strands with thermal polymers, which condition and protect, and nutrient-rich prickly pear extract, which softens, smooths frizz, and boosts shine. With notes of violet, gardenia, ylang-ylang, and white musk, this spray may just be the best-smelling heat protectant on this list.

6. Best Heat Protectant for Dry Hair:

SHEAMOISTURE Sugarcane Extract & Meadowfoam Seed Silicone-Free Leave-In Treatment

SHEAMOISTURE Sugarcane Extract & Meadowfoam Seed Silicone-Free Leave-In Treatment
Courtesy of SHEAMOISTURE

If you didn’t know, now you know: Hydrated hair has a naturally strong protective barrier against heat damage. (So hydrated hair = stronger hair.) Even if your strands are typically dry, you can dramatically boost your hair’s moisture levels with this super nourishing spray from SHEAMOISTURE that uses ingredients like shea butter, meadowfoam seed oil, and marshmallow root to keep those tresses healthy, hydrated, and well-protected. It also includes sugarcane extract, which acts as a natural replacement for silicone, to detangle and make hair more manageable without causing buildup.

7. Best for Damaged Hair:

OLAPLEX No. 7 Bonding Oil

OLAPLEX No. 7 Bonding Oil
Courtesy of OLAPLEX

If your hair is damaged from excessive heat styling or color treatments, OLAPLEX No. 3 Hair Perfector is probably already a regular part of your shower routine. Double up on damage reversal with this highly concentrated, weightless styling oil that actually rebuilds the bonds in your hair to make it stronger, healthier, and better protected against heat and split ends.

8. Best Heat Protectant for Straightening:

IGK Good Behavior Spirulina Protein Smoothing Spray

IGK Good Behavior Spirulina Protein Smoothing Spray
Courtesy of IGK

If your primary reason for heat styling is to create sleek strands using a straightener, then opt for this formula, which not only offers thermal protection but also helps to create smooth, beautifully straight results. IGK uses spirulina protein to strengthen and nourish while an innovative formaldehyde-free bonding polymer mimics the smoothing properties of a keratin treatment when activated by heat. It even helps to cut down on drying time, protects your straightened hair against humidity, and shields it from UV damage. Should we go on, or…?

9. Best Blowout-Extending Heat Protectant:

LIVING PROOF Perfect Hair™ Day Heat Styling Spray 

LIVING PROOF Perfect Hair™ Day Heat Styling Spray
Courtesy of LIVING PROOF

Not only does this miracle multitasker shield your hair from temperatures up to 450°F, but it also helps to extend the life of your blowout. Less heat styling equals less heat damage overall. The silicone-free, color-safe formula is powered by the brand's patented “healthy hair molecule,” which weightlessly smooths and protects. Apply this versatile formula on wet hair before using a hairdryer, flat iron, or curling iron—or spritz a bit on dry hair before any second or third-day touch-ups.

10. Best Priming Heat Protectant:

R+CO One Prep Spray

R+CO One Prep Spray
Courtesy of R+CO

What primers are to makeup, this product is to hair care. It's a nourishing base coat that protects and lightly conditions your hair, perfectly prepping it for either air-drying or heat styling. It also adjusts the pH balance of your hair to allow any other styling products you might want to layer in to apply more evenly and work more effectively. There's a reason you're likely to find this versatile priming lotion at just about every hair stylist station!

11. Best for Blonde Hair:

IT'S A 10 Miracle Leave-In Conditioner for Blondes

IT'S A 10 Miracle Leave-In Conditioner for Blondes
Courtesy of IT'S A 10

Here's another ultra-hydrating option from the beloved hair care brand IT'S A 10. Unlike the shine-boosting option listed above, this styling cream is specially formulated for natural or color-treated blondes. The moisture-packed leave-in conditioner protects and strengthens with ingredients like hydrolyzed silk protein and panthenol while also boosts and revives blonde color with lemon juice. Use this alongside your go-to purple shampoo to easily eliminate brassy tones and enhance highlights.

12. Best for Fine Hair:

BUMBLE AND BUMBLE Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil

BUMBLE AND BUMBLE Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil
Courtesy of BUMBLE AND BUMBLE

Hairstylists swear by this cult-favorite multitasking leave-in treatment that hydrates, fights frizz, detangles, and protects against heat damage in one fell swoop. If you have fine hair that tends to feel weighed down by some post-shower hair products, you'll love the weightless feel of this "invisible" oil. It's so lightweight you might even forget it's there—that is, until you catch a glimpse of your feather-soft, perfectly glossy strands in the mirror.

Want to try out all the newest hair care must-haves? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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About the author
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Cortney Clift
Cortney is a New York-based freelance writer who has written about beauty and wellness for more than six years. She was previously the senior writer and special projects editor at Brit + Co where she covered a wide range of news and lifestyle topics.
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Article Last Updated March 26, 2021 12:00 AM