If you want to maintain healthy natural hair, a heat protectant is a must-have for your beauty regimen. Seriously. No matter if you like to wear your hair curly or quickly touch up your hair with a flat iron, your strands are at risk any time you turn up the heat. This is especially true for natural and textured hair styles, since too much heat could actually end up ruining your precious curl pattern if you're not careful.
The overuse of flat irons, hot combs, blow dryers or any tool that gives off a lot of high temps is a road many of us have traveled down. Per studies, it can lead to "significant damage" to your hair's keratin, (aka, the building block protein that makes up your hair follicles). And I'm not just talking about breakage and split ends, either. For natural hair wearers, this could mean the loss of all that makes your hair so textured and fabulous, according to celebrity hair stylist Monae Everett.
"Actually, our hair is more delicate," Everett explains. "The more textured the hair, the more loops and twists and turns on the hair shaft, the more delicate the hair. The more likely you are to alter the curl pattern. So, it's not necessarily how much heat the hair can take, because hair can take heat. But [rather, it's] how much can it take and return back to its natural curl pattern." The repeated use of heat can lead to lackluster curls and even cause them to flatten out, which would explain why you see those abrupt straight tips at the end of your curly hair from time to time.
To avoid this thermal damage, Everett recommends using hot tools sparingly and setting your hair before you style it. For example, using flexi rods or rollers to achieve heatless curls can go a long way. But if you must apply heat, introducing a quality hair protectant is one of the best ways to keep your natural hair texture intact and damage-free. To help you figure out the best options for your hair, take a look at some our of favorite picks below.
Best heat protectants for natural hair
For a heat protectant that really goes the distance, Everett swears by Biolage Thermal Active Spray. Not only does it help protect your hair from excessive heat, but it can be used a medium hold styling gel to keep your curls in place. “It’s made specifically for heat styling,” Everett says. “And I love it because I’ve actually been on set and needed to set someone’s hair in a swift set (aka, tightly coiled curls). It set it and created the curl pattern.”
Originally $29.98, on sale for $14.75
Another favorite of Everett’s is this leave-in spray by It’s a 10 Haircare Miracle. With it, your hair is in good hands, thanks to the natural ingredients which include sunflower seeds, green tea leaf extract and silk amino acids. All of which are great for adding moisture and shine to your hair.
Originally 4.99, on sale for $3.78
Spritz a few pumps of this spray directly onto damp hair before you blow dry to give some extra conditioning and smoothness. Its lightweight formula includes shea butter, which helps nourish and tame pesky flyaways.
- Monae Everett, writer, educator and celebrity hair stylist
Help support your hair goals with this ultra-moisturizing serum from Mizani. Lightweight and perfect for textured hair, this serum is filled with shea butter to hydrate and be the oasis your hair needs. It’s specifically great for reducing breakage when using a variety of hot tools, from blow drying to straightening.
For those with medium to coarse hair, listen closely. This heat protectant creme is a winner when it comes to shine and preventing humidity to show up in your hair. It also provides protection up to 420 degrees for those of us who love to turn up that titanium flat iron to the highest setting when styling.
For a leave-in treatment that packs a punch for damaged and fragile curls, look no further. Apply this to hair that is weak or damp and let the formula works its magic. Together with the shampoo and conditioner, this creme helps strengthen the hair follicle and improve the appearance of split ends.
Originally $13.99, now on sale for $11.49
If you want your curls to snap back after so much heat, be sure to guard them with this Mielle thermal protectant spray. It’s a solution that will not only make your hair look good but feel good, too. Made with all natural ingredients, this spray helps keep frizz in its place and your curls evenly defined.
Originally $6.50, on sale for $6
Part of what makes this Chi spray a fan-favorite is its use of vitamins and protein. These ingredients are key in delivering much needed moisture to your hair before your style it. Not to mention, the spray keeps your scalp environment clean by not leaving behind any buildup.
If you’re looking to boost shine and protect your hair from the damaging heat of your styling tools, use a few pumps of this Garnier spray to slick back your frizz and create a shine that will last through the night and beyond. Among its key ingredients include argan and Moroccan oil to help provide a smooth and sleek finish.
Whether you like a lot of bounce to your curls or prefer them loosely defined, this gel is going to lock in hair’s moisture to help keep humidity of your hair out and your curl pattern strong. As a bonus, it even helps protect your mane from UV damage that could potentially damage your follicles.
Part of the power of this John Freida spray is in its formula. It uses a mix of “polymers with keratin protein” to help keep frizz to a minimum. As you use your flat iron to get your hair bone straight, spray this on to your locks to help produce a longer lasting and un-frizzy press.
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