I Gasped When I Learned How Common This Hairstyling Mistake Is

Ask any hairstylist the number one mistake their clients make, and they’ll most likely tell you it’s the lack of a heat protectant in their daily routine. A brief survey of my inner circle gave me the same results. The consensus: Does applying a heat protectant before a blowout really make that much of a difference? Johnny Ramirez, the celebrity colorist known for his trademark “lived-in color” and co-owner of L.A.’s Ramirez | Tran Salon, says yes. “Heat-protection products are important to use, as they protect the hair from being exposed to high levels of heat. If you expose your hair to heat every time you style your hair, it can result in dry and damaged hair,” he explains. Specifically, you may cause split ends and breakage. No, thank you.

But with so many product options out there, how do we know which one’s best for our locks? “The most important thing to consider is the level of heat protection a product offers. You need to make sure that it matches the level of heat you are applying to your hair,” Ramirez says. In other words, all heat protectants are not created equal. Lucky for you, we’ve taken the guesswork out by sourcing the 20 best heat protectants on the market, and we’ve made it even easier by breaking them down by hair type.

Ramirez recommends using a multitasking heat protectant to get as many benefits as possible. His pick from Redken strengthens and smooths damaged hair with plant protein and tourmaline while providing heat protection up to 450°.

Olaplex products have been all the rage for some time now, and luckily, they live up to the hype. This nourishing, lightweight oil offers supreme heat protection and combats dryness with a blend of hydrating moringa and sunflower oils. I use it daily, even when I’m not putting heat on my hair, to address frizz and flyaways. 

This budget-friendly heat protectant spray from Tresemme is fortified with niacinamide, a B vitamin that helps damaged hair rebuild keratin. Mist all over before using your favorite hot tool and your tresses will thank you.

Having trouble achieving the lift you want with your blowouts? Look no further than this heat protectant and styling spray from Alterna. It’s vegan friendly and provides 72 hours of volume as well as heat protection up to 450°. 

Biolage’s Thermal Active Spray adds shape and body to fine hair without weighing it down. Blue agave nectar is the star ingredient here, helping to strengthen and nourish heat-stressed locks. Plus, the brand has pledged to undertake sustainable manufacturing practices, something everyone can get behind. 

This lightweight spray from Shu Uemera actually relies on heat styling to activate hair memory, meaning that if you blow-dry every day, your hair will start naturally falling the way you want. Add volume-enhancing ingredients to the mix, and you’ve got one seriously hardworking product!

Us curly girls are often trying to define our textures, and this Leave-In Treatment from Rahua delivers the goods. Green tea works to protect from heat exposure while the brand’s signature rahua oil nourishes. The end result? Bouncy, touchable curls whether you use a hot tool or not. 

With my curly hair, a beach vacation (or NY in August or a summer rainstorm…) can be a one-way ticket to scrunchie town. But not anymore. Ouidad’s Heat & Humidity Gel protects against both humidity and heat exposure to bring out the best in curls.

This straightening serum and heat protectant was specifically formulated for people with curly hair who prefer to wear it straight. Not only will it elevate your sleek style by adding shine and hold, but it also will cut your flat-ironing time in half.

Developed with superstar hairstylist Chris McMillan, Drunk Elephant’s Tangle Spray protects against heat with a blend of nourishing plant oils. Spritz on after a shower and actively enjoy how little time it takes to comb through your hair before styling. 

Thick tresses, rejoice! Even though the star ingredient of this aerosol is argan oil, it doesn’t weigh hair down (or give it the dreaded crunch for that matter). Use it on wet hair before you blow-dry and on dry hair the next day for a touch-up.

Is it just me, or will Pantene Pro-V always be synonymous with RHOBH star Kyle Richards? (What? She has great hair, and she swears by the brand.) I digress. This drugstore find is a great option if you’re an avid hot-tool user but don’t want to break the bank. 

Heat exposure can make it hard for your hair to absorb color evenly, so if you’re breaking out the curling iron most days and you’re not exactly a natural blonde, it’s in your best interest to invest in Pureology’s leave-in spray. Its patented anti-fade ingredient blend of sunflower oil, a UV filter, and vitamin E is infused into every formula, ensuring lasting color. 

This multi-acting formula protects hair from heat, color fading, and dryness with a stellar ingredient lineup. Boasting collagen, B vitamins, and a signature complex made up of botanical extracts, you’ll feel like a Hadid every time you spritz. 

Living Proof’s Instant Protection Spray is a fan favorite for good reason: It’s versatile (you can use it on both wet and dry hair), it offers heat and UV protection, and it makes hair impossibly shiny and soft. Furthermore, even though it works well on all hair types, it was formulated with color and chemically treated hair in mind. 

If your hair is dry, chances are you may also have a little frizz. This luxurious cream uses a blend of rosehip, argan, and coconut oils to protect against damaging free radicals while also keeping breakage at bay.  

Infused with jojoba oil, Leonor Greyl’s heat protectant doubles as a conditioning leave-in treatment. Just a few sprays before styling transforms dull, dry strands into a silky, sleek mane.  

Like the Leonor Greyl product above, Ouai’s heat protectant is also a leave-in treatment. This one uses tamarind extract to hydrate hair while panthenol and vitamin E condition and detangle. 

The jury’s still out on silicone in hair products, but if you’re a fan, this heat protectant from Philip Kingsley is one heavy hitter. Just remember that a little goes a long way, and you’ll likely need to use a clarifying shampoo once a week to get rid of any buildup.

If you’re looking to avoid silicone, the six-oil blend that makes up Bumble and Bumble’s Invisible Oil is a great alternative for coarse hair. As the name suggests, this primer literally vanishes into your locks, so it seems like magic when your normally dry mane is suddenly super soft and frizz-free.  

Another Ramirez pick, this Redken treatment spray has “25 benefits that increase manageability and provide heat protection.” There’s also no one way to use it. Layer it with a rinse-out conditioning treatment for an extra boost or couple it with a styling product to add even more sleekness and shine.

Up next, Check out which haircut is set to be all the rage in 2021.