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I Tried Countless Heat Protectants—These 10 Left My Hair Soft, Not Crunchy


Yes, you really should make one a regular part of your styling routine.

We'd certainly never shame anyone for a hot-tool dependency—no matter how trendy air-drying may be, we're firm believers that nothing looks better than a fresh blowout. But no matter whether it's your blow dryer, curling iron, or straightener (or all three) that you reach for on a daily basis, the hard truth of the matter is that all of that heat is definitely taking a toll on your tresses. The easiest way to mitigate this damage? With a heat protectant spray, of course. "Heat protectants create a barrier between thermal tools and your hair, while also sealing the cuticle to keep moisture in. Without this seal, any moisture that's in the hair can actually combust if it gets over a certain temperature and end up damaging the hair," explains celebrity hairstylist Joseph Maine, co-founder of Trademark Beauty. (He adds that most formulas rely on oils or silicones in order to do so.) 

But to maximize a heat protectant's, well, protective effects, it's important to use it the right way, points out Shelly Aguirre, a stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. If you mist it all over your hair just once, but then go in and flat-iron every little section 10 times in a row, it's not going to do much, she says. Instead, she suggests applying the product in sections, aka the same way you're styling your hair.  For example, if you're flat-ironing or curling small sections, spray each of those with the heat protectant before using the tool.

Ahead, 10 of the best heat protectants for hair that are guaranteed to leave your strands softer, smoother, and most importantly, healthier.

Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray

Yes, this is a heat protectant, but it's the styling properties of this formula that blow our mind every time we use it. Maine echoes our sentiments: "It smooths your hair and locks out humidity while adding epic shine," he says. "It's truly a texture transformer." Because it's water-based, it's extremely lightweight; just FYI, the humidity- and heat-blocking technology is actually heat-activated, so you need to use a hot tool with it in order for it to work. Also nice: The results last even after you wash your hair, for up to three shampoos.

Odele Leave-In Detangling Tonic

There's no shortage of things to love about this multi-tasker. It shields strands from both heat and environmental factors (which can also be major damage-inducing culprits), and, as the name suggests, detangles like a dream. Plus, there's also the fact that the formula is completely clean and cruelty-free, the packaging can't be beat, and the price is jaw-droppingly affordable considering all of the above.

Sachajuan Straight and Shine Spray

Joann Yoon, a stylist at Yojo Hair in Los Angeles, is a fan of this option, lauding it for both the lightweight texture and pleasant scent. It's ideal for anyone with fine hair and/or for anyone using a flat iron in the hopes of achieving a sleek style, given that it both helps smooth the hair and imparts mirror-like shine too.

Kérastase Nutritive Nectar Thermique Blow-Dry Primer 

Aguirre says this richer cream is an especially great choice for those with medium to thick, coarse hair. "The creamy consistency makes applying it super-easy, and it can also help detangle," she says. Just keep in mind that, unlike some of the other products on this list, it doesn't have any styling qualities to it; it's more of just a straight-up heat protectant. 

L'Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle Sleek It Iron Straight Heatspray

Indeed, this aptly-named product is an excellent choice for anyone who loves their flat iron. It offers impressive heat protection, up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, but also tamps down frizz, adds shine, and generally makes hair look sleeker...and all of those benefits last up to three days.

Oribe Royal Blowout Heat Styling Spray

A must for blowout devotees, "not only does this protect hair against heat damage, it also helps cut down on blow-dry time," says Aguirre of one of her top picks. (Yes, please.) She says it's the perfect product for creating a super-smooth and silky finish, and has the added benefit of containing both moisturizing avocado and argan oils, and a UV protectant too. 

Maria Nila Cream Heat Spray

A little of this spray goes a long way, says Yoon of another of her favorites. The vegan, sulfate-, and paraben-free formula can also be used on either damp or dry hair, a nice option on days when you're not re-washing or drying, but just touching up with a straightener or curling iron. And those who color their hair will appreciate that it touts a color-protecting complex that blocks the fading effects of UV rays as well.

Pantene Pro-V Nutrient Boost Heat Primer Thermal Heat Protection Pre-Styling Spray

Another great option for those with fine hair, this spritz is incredibly lightweight, never weighing down hair. And despite the very wallet-friendly price tag, it still offers many of the same benefits as its much pricier counterparts, namely heat protection up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Verb Ghost Prep Heat Protectant

Fighting frizz? "This delivers great frizz control," says Yoon, adding that it also smells great (always a win in our book). The moringa seed oil-infused formula protects hair from temps up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, is infused with hydrating glycerin and conditioning pro-vitamin B5, and tamps down any errant frizzies. Plus, it works equally well on all hair types and textures.

Living Proof Restore Perfecting Spray

There's really not much this one bottle can't do. It's part leave-in conditioner, part detangler, part hair strengthener, and part heat protectant, of course, an all-in-one that is always a staple in our haircare routine. Also noteworthy: The conditioner is time-released, meaning your hair not only looks and feels good right away, but also stays that way all day long.