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When you’re rushing to get ready in the morning and styling your hair isn’t exactly your priority, you may find yourself skipping out on an important step: heat protectant! The thing is, bypassing heat protectant could wreak havoc on your strands, including resulting in damaged hair. Not cool! So, if you’re blow-drying or flat ironing your hair, it’s a good idea to take a couple of extra seconds to apply a few quick spritzes of heat protectant spray or a small amount of heat protectant oil before styling. Want to know why? Here, we explain why using heat protection products like hair primers and protective sprays should be part of your regular hairstyling routine.
Real talk: When you expose your hair to heat every time you style your hair, it can lead to damage. The heat can dry out your strands, lead to split ends and breakage, and make your hair look dull, among other issues. But we get it—heat styling isn’t always avoidable! The good news is, by applying a heat protectant and being smart about how you use your hot tools, you can help prevent heat damage in the first place. It only takes a couple of extra seconds to apply, and the protection that a hair heat protectant offers is well worth the extra time it’ll tack onto your routine.
Okay, we think we covered this question with our glowing recommendation to use heat protective sprays and creams, but we see it asked a lot, so we wanted to make sure you knew: heat protectant isn’t bad for your hair. In fact, it helps prevent damage, which sounds pretty good to us! The only concern you may need to have with heat protectants is that over time, they can cause buildup. This simply means you don’t want to apply a hair primer and then heat style your hair for days on end without washing. You need to give your hair a good clarifying session every week or two (amidst your regular washing schedule) to get rid of buildup.
Can a few quick spritzes—or a dollop, for that matter—of heat protectant really make a difference? Yes! Heat protectant does work, assuming you use it correctly. Hair protectants often work to protect hair from temperatures as high as 450 degrees. Make sure your heat tools aren’t exceeding the temperature that your product can defend it against, and you should see that your heat protectant works.
Ready to blow-dry, curl, or straighten your strands? In case we haven’t hammered this point home already, don’t pick up your hot tools until you’ve prepped your strands with a heat protectant! Have your pick from our five best heat protectants for hair.
L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle SLEEK IT Iron Straight Heatspray: This high-performance, heat protectant spray for hair offers 450-degree heat protection for an ideal sleek look. Specifically formulated to work with any heat styling tool, the unique formula goes beyond heat protection to calm frizzy hair, seal in shine, block humidity, and condition strands. Best of all, it’s versatile! You can spritz it onto either damp hair or dry strands before you reach for your heat tools, making it one of our best heat protectant sprays for hair!
How to use it: Spray onto damp or dry hair section by section before styling.
L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle BLOW DRY IT Quick Dry Primer Spray: Known as one of our best heat protectant sprays for hair, this lightweight hair primer works wonders to cut down blow-dry time while also protecting hair from damage.
How to use it: Since this heat protective spray is also a primer, you’ll want to apply it onto clean, damp hair. Spray it on evenly, holding the bottle about six to eight inches away from your hair. Then, separate your hair and clip it into three even sections, blow-drying from the top—this can also help cut down on styling time.
L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle BLOW DRY IT Thermal Smoother Cream: This lightweight hair cream formula instantly smooths hair while protecting against heat damage. Not only will this hair cream help keep your strands safe from heat damage, but it will also help to tame frizz. Win-win!
How to use it: Squeeze a quarter-sized amount into your palm for medium-length hair (use a little less for short hair and a little more if you have long hair). Apply to damp hair before blow-drying with a round brush. Blow-dry your hair in a downward motion for a smoother, shinier finish.
L’Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Protein Recharge Treatment: This hair cream, in addition to being formulated to protect against heat up to 450 degrees, helps increase hair strength and flexibility and protect against everyday damage.
How to use it: Simply apply a small amount of product onto clean, wet hair, working through from the roots to the ends. Leave in and style as usual.
L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths No Haircut Cream Leave In Conditioner: One of the common signs of heat damage is split ends. And to stay ahead of the game, this heat protectant for hair can protect against brittle and frayed ends. Formulated with a blend of castor oil and vitamins B3 and B5, the cream strengthens long hair and helps to seal in split ends. Not to mention, it also offers up to 450-degree heat protection.
How to use it: Apply on damp hair, leave in, and style as usual.
Now that you’ve been using the best heat protectant for you, that shouldn’t be your only line of defense. Besides stocking up on heat protectant oils, sprays, and creams, there are other strategies you should employ to help beat heat damage. Find four additional tips to prevent heat damage, below.
Blow-drying your hair when it’s soaking wet is only going to extend the process. And the more time that your hair is exposed to high heat, the more damage that will be done. So, switch things up by letting your hair air-dry at least halfway before reaching for a blow-dryer.
Alternatively, you can consider allowing your hair to air-dry completely. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), decreasing the number of times you blow-dry every week helps limit damage. And don’t worry, you can still achieve a beautiful style without your blow dryer. Apply your towel-dried strands with the L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle CURVE It Elastic Curl Mousse to create soft and bouncy curls, no heat tools necessary.
Beyond taking a break from your blow-dryer, it’s also a good idea to cut back on the frequency with which you curl and straighten your hair. The AAD shares that flat irons should be used no more than every other day. If your use exceeds that, take a little hiatus and put your strands into a pretty braid instead.
Always use the lowest heat setting possible on your hair, because those super high heat settings likely aren’t necessary to get the job done. In reality, the highest settings are typically meant for in-salon treatments—not at-home use.
Repeatedly applying heat to the same section of hair will increase the chances of damaging your strands. The AAD recommends that when working with a curling iron or wand, you only leave your heat tool in place for a second or two. As for using a flat iron, straighten your hair in small sections, so you’ll only need to pass through each section once to straighten it.
We’ve covered how to protect your hair from the heat but what’s one to do if they already have heat damage? Besides starting to take preventative measures (it’s never too late), follow these tips for managing damaged hair.
There are hair treatments to help with everything, including heat damage. In addition to your regular shampoo and conditioner, adding a strengthening hair mask into your weekly routine (ideally two to three times per week) can help to repair damage and protect your strands in the long-term. Use a traditional hair mask, like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair Extreme Emergency Recovery Mask, which you’ll apply onto your strands manually, section by section, after shampooing, then rinse out as usual.
Want to give your strands some extra TLC but don’t have the time for a full-on hair mask? Reach for a fast-acting deep conditioner, such as the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Oil Rapid Reviver Deep Conditioner or the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Rapid Reviver Deep Conditioner, instead. Both options work in just one minute to reinforce strands.
As we mentioned above, split ends can be a clear indicator of heat damage. If your hair has been afflicted, it’s best to go ahead and trim your hair. That way, you can cut off the ends of your hair—where most of the damage is anyway—and get a new haircut out of it. Not such a bad deal, right?
When you’re trying to repair your hair, it’s crucial to use a shampoo and conditioner system that will help strengthen and fortify your locks. Reach for the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Repair & Defend Shampoo and the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Repair & Defend Conditioner, which when used together, defend against damage, and deeply condition and strengthen fragile hair.
Next: How to Curl Your Hair with a Flat Iron
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