Should You Use a Heat Protectant When Styling Your Hair?

Should You Use a Heat Protectant When Styling Your Hair?

Feb 16th 2024

Heat Styling Tools Hanging Up: Flat Irons, Curling Irons, Hair DryersEveryone's hair always goes through periods where it needs a little TLC. No matter how healthy your hair, it will inevitably go through phases where it just needs a little more attention in the way of extra protection, extra moisture, or just an infusion of health-improving nutrients. Related: Best Ingredients for Protein Loss

Shoot, sometimes all your hair really needs is a fresh start in the form of a haircut - as in, taking more than just an inch off. We can talk about that another time, but I’m a big believer is starting over with a couple inches off every now and then. It can really help jump start your hair back to good health when you take a good amount of it off!

Heat Styling Tools Can Cause Damage

Your hair can really take a beating with all the things thrown at it. From high heat curling irons, hair dryers, chemical treatments and dyes, to excessive sun exposure, chlorine, and other environmental factors, it really needs a break wherever it can catch one.

Remember, your hair is actually not “living” tissue. It’s actually dead everywhere but in the follicle below the surface. Everything above the surface, where we all take so much pride in grooming it and styling it, is actually not even living tissue. So it really takes a lot of special attention and care to keep it ‘healthy’ looking, which seems like an oxymoron. 

The reason styling and drying tools use heat is two fold. First, heat gets things dry faster when used in hair dryers. Second, heat interrupts the hydrogen bonds in the hair, and forces it to behave/curl/straighten in a specific way by heating it. So heat is a powerful styling agent. At the same time, and as you might expect, excessive heat can also damage your hair and make it prone to breakage, thinning, increased frizz and split ends..

Heat Protection - How It Can Help

There are some products that supposedly can help protect your hair from suffering damage from heat exposure from styling tools. Most of them probably use a silicone or other protectant that helps to coat the hair to protect it via physical barrier form over exposure to heat.

What you’ve probably been able to deduce from the previous paragraphs is that heat works to temporarily ‘tame’ the hair by breaking the hydrogen bonds that give it a certain predetermined shape. Not surprisingly, this breaking of bonds can lead to damage to the surface of the hair strands. Related: Why Does Your Hair Look Bad Between Washes?

Coating them with a protective lipid (fat) or silicone (chemical coating agent) can help reduce the likelihood that the hair will be damaged by this intense heat. Heat tools can really make your hair look amazing, but as with anything else that causes temporary taming or shaping, it can also cause unwanted side effects.

Pick and Choose Hair Styling Products Carefully

A good heat styling protectant can really make a huge difference in the health and vitality of your hair over time. Especially if you use heated styling tools on a daily or semi-daily basis. I tend to use heated styling products almost daily of one type or another except in the winter time when my hair is naturally tamer due to less humidity.

If I’m not washing my hair and blowing it dry (which is every other day ideally, if I don’t let it slip an extra day), then I’m usually running a hot curling through it or using heated rollers to help get it shaped better. So I definitely need a heat protectant here and there. New! Can Taking Inches Off Your Hair Revive It?

But I’m careful to not use it along with other styling products. If I’m using a heat protectant, then I’m not going to want use a mousse, styling gel or hairspray on top of it. Not only can multiple styling products build up on the hair, but they can also counteract the effects of each other - unintentionally of course.

Heat Protectants Can Be Multipurpose

If I’m going to use the heat protectant spray for example, then I just like to use it as a multipurpose styling agent, so I spray a little extra on because I know that it will also give me a bit of natural wave on top of helping to protect my hair from the heat. As previously alluded, styling products should always be used sparingly, especially if you don’t wash your hair very often. Styling buildup will definitely weigh your hair down over time. RelatedOccasional Use of Clarifying Shampoo a Good Thing?