If you heat style your hair, heat protection products are a necessity. Many people mistakenly assume heat protection products are only necessary if you use a hair straightener. The truth is you should be protecting your hair any time you heat style it – not only with a hair straightener, but also with your blow dryer, curling iron or hot rollers. Just a few seconds could make all the difference in your hair’s health. Some hair straighteners advertise maximum heat settings at over 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Applying that much heat without some sort of thermal barrier is just begging for damaged hair.
Heat protection products are often referred to by a variety of different names, usually with “heat” or “thermal” in the name. Note that these are not the same as heat-activated products, which rely on the heat from your appliances to give styling results. There is a growing range of products designed for heat-treated hair, but they’re not all protective. Many only attempt to repair damage you’ve already done by heat styling.
Preserving your hair’s health doesn’t need to be expensive. Every drugstore now carries a selection of heat protection products, which begin at $2-3 for bargain brands like Suave and Vo5. My personal favorite is by TRESemme, and retails around $5. To avoid confusion and give you an idea of what to look for at the drugstore, follow this link to see my personal review of the best heat protection products.
There are two main types of heat protectants – serums and sprays. Depending on your hair type, one may be better than the other. If you have normal or naturally straight hair, sprays may be your best option. For dry, coarse, curly/wavy or exceptionally thick hair, I advise using a serum. Sprays can over-saturate some areas of your hair and leave crevices and curls bone dry. Using a serum requires you to work the product through with your fingers/hands, making sure you get even coverage.
To apply heat protectant, begin by separating your hair. Depending on how much hair you have and how you like to style it, this can vary from just 2-3 sections to many more. Many avid hair straighteners or blow-dryers already section their hair before drying for best styling results. Each time you separate a section, apply your heat protection product to it, then twist and secure with a salon or jaw clip. Repeat this process as you go around the head – this ensures no sections are left unprotected. When separating hair, it’s best to use either your hands or the end of a rattail (or “teasing” comb). Brushing or combing through wet hair can cause weakness and breakage, so avoid doing it if possible.
Your heat protection products will “soak in” better if your hair is partially air or towel-dried before you begin. Many of these types of products contain silicone, which has a tendency to slide off sopping wet hair instead of coating it evenly. Drying time will vary depending on your hair’s length, texture and thickness, but try to shoot for a minimum of 5-10 minutes before you start applying product and styling whenever possible.
Once all hair is separated and evenly coated, you’re ready to heat style your hair. Applying heat protection products is simple, never leave your hair vulnerable again!