Courtesy of Sephora
Achieving the perfect hairstyle often takes time, the right products, and a number of tools, but some of your favorite methods for styling your hair could be causing heat damage. Whether you prefer to blow-dry, curl, or straighten it, protecting your hair is key to maintaining its overall health and ability to grow. Armed with the right heat protectant spray for your hair type and needs, though, and you can more confidently yield those styling tools. "If we want to have our most manageable and healthy hair, then we must care for it," explains Gina Scipioni, hairstylist and NEUMA director of education. "A good heat protectant will also enhance hair shine by helping to close the hair cuticle, which will keep hair looking healthier for longer."
Your styling process can involve multiple tools with various heat settings, which makes it all the more important to introduce a heat protectant at the correct point in your routine. "A heat protectant should always be applied prior to applying any heat or thermal tools to the hair," says Alicia Bailey, hair texture expert and global education manager at Design Essentials. "This would include blow dryers, flat irons, curling irons or wands, and hot rollers." Simply put, before you start working on your perfect hairstyle, be sure to employ one of these powerful protectors.
The Best Heat Protectant Sprays to Buy Now
Best Overall: Dove Style+Care Smooth & Shine Heat-Protectant Spray
Best for Fine Hair: Waterless Heat Shield Protectant & Spray
Best for Medium Hair: Oribe Royal Blowout
Best for Thick Hair: Lee Stafford Heat Blow Dry Protection Cream
Best for Dry Hair: Kerastase Nutritive Nectar Thermique
Best for Oily Hair: Design Essentials Weightless Thermal Protectant Serum
Best for Dyed Hair: ColorProof Ironmaster Color & Heat Protecting Setting Spray
Best for Wavy and Curly Hair: Moroccan Oil Perfect Defense Heat Protectant
Best for Type 3 and 4 Curly Hair: Design Essentials Agave and Lavender Moisturizing Blow-Dry and Styling Primer
Celebrity hairstylist Mark Townsend says he has one heat protectant spray that's his go-to: Dove Smooth and Shine Heat Protection spray. "I use [this one] for all hair types," he explains. "Whether I'm going for super sleek straight hair or curls with lots of volume I always spray sections of hair with this before using the flat iron or curling iron to defend the hair from the damage that hot tools can cause." The spray, he adds, doesn't just protect your hair—it also imparts tons of shine while preventing frizz, static, and fly-away hairs.
Shop Now: Dove Style+Care Smooth & Shine Heat-Protectant Spray, $4.88, walmart.com.
Best for Fine Hair
Jay Ree, celebrity hairstylist and senior stylist at John Barrett salon, recommends Waterless Heat Shield Protect & Re-Style. "This heat shield spray seals and protects hair from heat up to 450 degrees!" he says. "And a major plus—it's free of parabens, sulfates, and alcohol. My clients always compliment the amazing aroma of it, too."
Shop Now: Waterless Heat Shield "Protect & Restyle" Heat Protectant, $8.99, target.com.
Best for Medium Hair
Becca Panos, a stylist at Maxine Salon, recommends Oribe's Royal Blowout and Invisible Defense. "Spray Royal Blowout on damp hair sparingly as it is highly concentrated and avoid the roots," she warns. "This is best for medium to thick hair, whether its straight or curly. The result is shiny polished blowouts with body and this spray also cuts down on blowdrying time."
Shop Now: Oribe "Royal Blowout" Heat Styling Spray, $69, sephora.com.
Best for Thick Hair
Celebrity hairstylist Lee Stafford says that those with thick hair should reach for protective creams rather than sprays. "Thick hair often means you use a higher heat temperature and for a longer period of time," he explains. "Extra protection is needed which [is] why I recommend using a thicker product. The Heat Protection Blow Dry Cream won't weigh your thick hair down and leaves hair looking soft and smooth."
Shop Now: Lee Stafford Heat Blow Dry Protectant Cream, $13.99, amazon.com.
Oribe's Invisible Defense is best used on dry hair, and you'll want to apply it before using any heat styling tools. It's a great option regardless of hair type, explains Panos, because it's weightless. "In addition to heat protection, Invisible Defense protects from UV rays and pollution while combating frizz," she says.
Shop Now: Oribe Invisible Defense Universal Protection Spray, $22, dermstore.com.
Best for Oily Hair
Bailey says the weightless thermal protectant serum "is good for oily hair because it is not an oil-based product that would add more weight to the hair." The serum is also "good for fine and medium hair from 1A-4C, oily, normal, dry and color-treated hair."
Shop Now: Design Essentials Natural Agave & Lavender Thermal Protectant Serum, $18.95, amazon.com.
Best for Dyed Hair
Dyed hair can often be more brittle and dry, so it's even more important to use a heat protectant spray on this type of hair. "For heat-styling, I recommend the ColorProof Ironmaster Color & Heat Protecting Setting Spray which is a heat-activated spray made to provide color protection when doing iron work," says Scipioni. She says to apply the setting spray to damp hair after blow-drying and the formula will secure, defending against heat, friction, and fading color.
Shop Now: ColorProof "Ironmaster" Color & Heat Protecting Setting Spray, $22.19, walmart.com.
Best for Wavy (Type 2) Curly Hair
Ree likes this product for curly hair. "This product consists of rich, argan oil, but in dry aerosol form, virtually weightless while conditioning curly coifs of all types. It is extremely versatile, and it can be used on damp, pre blow-dried hair, or on dry hair for a next day refresh."
Shop Now: Moroccan Oil Protect & Prevent Spray, $28 for 5.4 ounces, sephora.com.
Best for Type 3 & 4 (Tight Curls and Coils) Curly Hair
According to Bailey, the best heat protectant spray for type 3 and 4 curly hair is Design Essentials Blow Dry Primer. She notes that the powerhouse product is good for fine, medium, coarse, oily, normal, dry, and color-treated hair.
Shop Now: Design Essentials Agave & Lavender Blow-Dry & Style Primer, $10.99, ulta.com.
Best for Dry Hair
Trying to revive dry hair? Ree loves this product for protecting and treating. "The name says it all," he says. "This product nourishes the hair fiber and flaunts 85 percent less hair breakage from blow-dry with regular usage."
Shop Now: Kerastase Nutritive Nectar Thermique, $44.03, amazon.com.
Honorable Mention: Best for Strengthening
Yummie O, founder of Yummy Extensions and KOSA Professionals, knows the importance of heat protectant spray ingredients. Drybar's detangler-meets-heat-protectant—which is formulated with biotin, vitamins B and C, and UV blockers to protect your hair from heat and the sun's rays—exceeds her rigorous standards.
Shop Now: Drybar "Prep Rally" Prime & Prep Detangler, from $11, nordstrom.com.