Daily styling can damage your hair. The heat from your blow dryer and curling iron sucks out your hair’s moisture and makes it dry, dull and brittle. That’s definitely not a good look! If you can’t live without your styling tools, then the next alternative is to style smart. Read this article on tips for safe heat styling and our reviews of the best heat protectant for natural hair.
How Does Heat Damage Your Hair?
Blow drying and curling irons actually cause different types of damage. Blow dryers create a sudden burst of heat that instantly dries up all the moisture. This makes the hair cuticle – the part that strengthens and protects the hair – very brittle and prone to breakage.
Straightening irons work another way. Since you’re applying heat directly to damp hair, you cause little “steam explosions” that cause the cuticle to crack. If you put your hair under a microscope, you’ll see how your cuticle has developed tiny breaks and holes.
Over time, regular heat styling can also affect the keratin proteins that make hair more elastic (goodbye, bouncy hair!) and the pigments that control your hair color. If you have colored your hair, you’ll notice that the color has faded or tuned brassy.
That’s not all! Damaged hair feels rough, limp, and is split ends. It also becomes more difficult to style. It can’t hold a curl, or becomes limp even after blow drying. It’s more prone to frizziness and tangling.
How frustrating — we style our hair to make it look great, but in the process we damage it so it looks worse!
How do Heat Protectants Prevent Damage?
Heat protectants are the only way to safely style your hair. Don’t touch your blow dryer or hair iron without them! These products contain ingredients that shield your hair from the harmful effects of heat. They work in three ways:
- They make your hair more porous. This means that your hair is able to hold more water. Damaged hair isn’t able to absorb moisture (think of how water just drips off a dried leaf). The best heat protectant for natural hair contains healing ingredients that bring back your hair to normal levels of porosity.
- They add more moisture to your hair. Since your hair will be losing moisture, heat protectants compensate by restoring moisture. You’ll immediately notice that your hair is softer and it’s easier to comb out tangles!
- They act like a seal and shield. Heat protectants act like an additional layer of defense against the heat. It coats the hair, which prevents moisture from evaporating. It also protects the cuticle from damage.
What ingredients are found in the best heat protectants for natural hair?
You’ll see a lot of products in the market, and they come in different formulas too: masks, serums, oils, setting lotions, and more. However, to find the most effective ones, read the label. Look for the following ingredients:
- Heavy-duty moisturizers. Ingredients like shea or coconut butters, plant extracts (argan oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil) can provide a much-needed dose of moisture and nutrients.
- This is a safe, clear silicone that has been approved by the FDA. It makes hair look very soft and smooth to the touch, and can also help nutrients penetrate the cuticle and heal hair from within.
- Dimethicone. Also approved by the FDA, this ingredient makes it much easier to comb and style hair. This is very important for heat-damaged hair. Since it’s already rough and brittle, so even brushing out the tangles can cause split-ends.
5 Best Heat Protectants for Natural Hair
When you shop for a good heat protectant, consider your hair texture and amount of damage, as well as how often you style your hair. Here are some of the most well-reviewed heat protectants for natural hair. Check out their pros and cons to find out if they match your needs!
HSI PROFESSIONAL Thermal Protector with Argan oil for Flat Iron
This heat protectant can be used on natural hair or even hair extensions. It contains argan oil, which is deeply moisturizing and nourishing. It can help recondition hair and is ideal for anyone who has split ends or is already experiencing breakage or hair loss. It can also help control frizziness and make your hair look sleek, shiny and healthy again.
If you live in a warm climate, you don’t have to worry about your hair feeling greasy. Argan oil is quickly absorbed, and doesn’t settle in your scalp. Customers who have fine hair even said that this was one of the lightest but most effective products they’ve ever tried. They say that it has even made their styling routine easier, since it takes less time to make hair look sleek and straight.
- It is deeply moisturizing, and ideal for dry and brittle hair.
- It is absorbed quickly and doesn’t feel greasy or heavy.
- It makes hair look shiny and sleek
- It can be used on its own as a hair treatment
- The product’s smell may be too strong for people who are sensitive to fragrance
- It works best on damp hair, so you may not get the desired results if you don’t apply it right after showering
- It does not have any volumizing benefits
TRESemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray
Many women with curly hair say that this is the best heat protectants they’ve ever tried. It even won three Allure Best of Beauty awards, and included in several magazines’ Editors Picks.
TRESemme contains glycerin and panthenol to condition the hair, biotin to make hair stronger, and cetylpyridinium chloride to shield and protect the hair from heat.
One of the immediate effects of TRESemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray is that it makes even curly or kinky hair feel very soft and manageable. One loyal user says that this is the product that made her “fall in love with her naturally curly hair” because it made it easier to style and left such a beautiful shine.
- Helps damaged, unmanageable hair become softer and easier to style
- Restores shine and lustre to dull hair
- It has received several beauty awards
- Its fruity fragrance may not appeal to people who are sensitive to scent or prefer a milder scent
- It is not available in all countries, or must be bought from an affiliated salon or online store
- It is more moisturizing than other formulas, which works for dry or curly hair, but may feel too thick for people with fine or limp hair
CHI Silk Infusion
If your hair is severely dramaged from blowdrying and straightening, consider investing in this product. It has a patented ceramic thermal styling formula that combines silk with soy and wheat proteins. Thanks to its special technology, the heat actually helps the silk proteins to penetrate your strands and heal your hair from within.
Another of its beauty breakthroughs is its positively charged silk particles, which actually bind with your hair to make it stronger, shinier, and softer.
Aside from using only the best ingredients, CHI Silk Infusion is also free of alcohol and other harmful chemicals that can dry out your hair. With its combination of technology and premium ingredients, It is one of the best heat protectant for natural hair
- Full of moisturizing ingredients like pure natural silk, wheat and soy proteins
- Uses a patented ionic and cationic hydration interlink technology that helps nutrients penetrate and bind with your hair
- Special CHI 33 ceramic thermal styling formula shields your hair from heat damage
- Free of alcohol and other drying ingredients
- More expensive than other products
- Can feel heavy on very hot, humid weather
Heat Protectant Plus with Argan Oil
Arvazallia’s Heat Protectant Plus is a favorite of professional hair stylists. Though it feels very light, it offers a powerhouse of protection against damage from blow drying, curling and straightening.
This product contains high quality argan oil to help heal and moisturize damaged hair. It also uses a special Two Layer protection technology that shields the most fragile hair from heat and damage. One user whose hair was very rough and brittle from styling and bleaching says that after just a few months her hair was noticeably softer and had less split ends.
Heat Protectant Plus also makes hair easier to comb – just spray this on your hand, rub it in your hair, and then run a very wide-toothed comb through your locks to remove all tangles. Many women also say that this has helped control frizz and tame flyaway hair. Since it is so light, it can be used even on women with fine hair.
This is one of the most versatile heat protectant for natural hair, extensions, and wigs.
- Uses a special 2 Layer Protection technology that shields hair from damage and penetrates deep into the hair to restore softness and flexibility
- Light and doesn’t feel greasy
- Can be used on all hair types, including fine hair
- If you put too much product, it can feel sticky or “tacky” to the touch
- The bottle is prone to breaking, so you need to transfer it to a sturdier bottle if you travel
- Strong smell
Art Naturals Thermal Hair Protector
This heat protector is full of natural plant extracts that help restore moisture, shine and strength to your hair. It contains peach, sage, rosemary, ginseng, and thyme — these are not only full of nutrients and moisturizing oils, but leaves an amazing scent.
By far, this is one of the best heat protectant for natural hair if you are going to spend most of your day outdoors. It doesn’t feel greasy, it doesn’t weigh down hair, and it doesn’t leave a strong chemical smell. If you sweat, your hair still smells fresh and very lightly fragranced.
This can be used by all hair types. If you have very fine hair, then spray the hair on your palms and place most of it on your outer hair. That way, you use only a little product but get the right protection.
If you have thick or curly hair, use more product and apply right after the shower. It will make it easier to comb out tangles, and help control frizziness.
- Uses natural plant extracts to moisturize and nourish hair
- Has a pleasant fragrance
- Does not feel heavy or greasy
- Can be used by all hair types
- The nozzle can get clogged, so clean it frequently
- It is not as moisturizing as other products, so it may not be suitable for very dry hair
If you style your hair frequently, then you need to invest in the best heat protectant for your natural hair type. Pick the formula that suits your hair. There are heavier, more moisturizing heat protectants that are ideal for very damaged or thick hair, and lighter and natural heat protectants if you have fine hair.
To get the best results, apply heat protectants while your hair is damp. (Just gently press out moisture from wet hair with a towel.) You can control the amount of product by spraying it on your hands before applying where you need it the most. If a formula feels very rich or thick, then apply less. Eventually you will find the “sweet spot” for your hair type and climate. Usually, when a heat protectant feels sticky, it’s because you applied too many thick layers at a time.
All styling products – whether it’s heat protectants or the mousse or gels you use — will leave some residue. That’s why it’s important to shampoo regularly to prevent build-up. While this may dry out your hair, the moisturizing ingredients in the best heat protectants can help restore the moisture.
However, using the best heat protectant for natural hair is just the first step. Invest in styling tools that let you control temperature, and use shampoos and conditioners that nourish your hair and scalp. Always remember to gently comb out tangles, and avoid rubbing wet hair vigorously with a towel. Regular trims at the hair salon can also help remove split-ends.
With a combination of a good tools, products and habits, you can keep your hair in beautiful shape even if you use styling tools often.
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