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Stop using heat on your hair without this crucial product.


When using a hot tool like a blow dryer, flat iron or curling iron, using a heat protectant is an absolute must. Not only can they prevent damage, but they also help maintain color longer, reduce frizz, and retain moisture, says Guy Tang, Los Angeles-based celebrity hairstylist. 

Heat protectants come in various forms —  oils, sprays and creams — and everyone, regardless of your hair type or texture, should use one, according to our experts. Without that added protection, you’re damaging your hair, which can leave it permanently altered, says Angela Walker, founder of N Natural Hair Salon in Maryland.

To help you find the right heat protectant, we spoke to four hairstylists about what to look for and which formulas work best depending for different hair types and textures. 

SKIP AHEAD The best heat protectants | How to shop for a heat protectant  

How we picked the best heat protectants

Experts we spoke with recommend incorporating a protectant before any using any hot tool, so when making this list, we looked for products that include the following:

  • Formulation: Heat protectants come in different forms — creams, sprays and oils —  some of which are better for certain hair types, according to our experts. Creams tend to be best before blow drying, while sprays are better when you need to use a hot tool that will directly touch your hair (like a flat iron), according to celebrity hairstylist Sophie Rose Gutterman. 
  • Protection level: It’s important to find a protectant that can match the temperature of your hot tool. For example, if your blow dryer reaches 200 degrees Fahrenheit but your flat iron can reach 400 degrees Fahrenheit, look for a product that can protect against both and match or exceed the highest heat settings you have available. This information is usually listed on the labels of your product, according to our experts. 
  • Price: Heat protectants will vary in price depending on their formulation. Sprays will generally be cheaper than creams (which tend to have additional benefits aside from heat protection), according to Tang.

The best heat protectants in 2024

Below, we gathered expert-recommended, highly rated and NBC Select staff-favorite heat protectants that are made for a range of hair textures and types and align with our expert’s guidance. We categorized the heat protectants into three categories: creams, sprays and oils — every product also offers protection up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

The best heat protectant creams

Briogeo Farewell Frizz Blow Dry Perfection & Heat Protectant Crème 

Regardless of your hair type and texture, this heat protectant helps combat dryness and frizz, according to the brand. I work it into my damp, thick and wavy hair section by section and only use a little bit (quarter-sized amount at most.) That’s enough to cover my hair from mid-length to ends, taking any leftover product on my hands and placing it closer to my roots. Luckily, after blow drying, it doesn’t leave it looking greasy, and I see less frizz when I use this. 

Oribe Balm D’Or Heat Styling Shield

This lightweight cream, which has a 4.5-star average rating from over 400 reviews on Amazon, leaves your hair sleek, shiny and frizz-free, according to the brand. Reviewers say a little goes a long way and to start off with a dime-size amount before adding more. Work it into wet, slightly damp hair before using any hot tool.

Kerastase Nectar Thermique Heat Protecting Cream

This is what Gutterman calls “your hair bestie” because it both moisturizes and protects your hair at the same time. She suggests using it on wet hair prior to blowing it out and to also apply it section by section. The cream is best for frizz-prone, dry hair, medium to thick hair, according to the brand. “Kerastase products, specifically the heat protectants, always make my hair look insanely shiny and healthy,” says NBC Select editor Lindsay Schneider, who received a sample from the brand. “I always get compliments on how good and healthy my hair looks whenever I use this before blowing out my very frizzy, curly hair.” 

R+Co Hot Spell Thermotech Blow Out Balm 450° F Protection

If you want your protectant to be extremely conditioning, consider this balm-to-cream option, which comes recommended by hairstylist and salon owner Tiffany Munoz. It will help quench your hair’s thirst and help tame it, says Munoz. Since it is concentrated you won’t need much of it, all you need to do is apply a quarter-size amount of product, work it with your hands and then brush it through, says Munoz. 

The best heat protectant sprays

Dae Agave Heat & Hold Styling Mist

Right before curling or straightening my hair, I always spray this mist from my roots to my ends. After using this for over a month now, I can see a difference in how my hair looks — there’s less frizz, my hair doesn’t feel stiff or crunchy, and I love the fruity and floral scent, which lingers for a long time in my hair. Because my hair is pretty thick, I do go through this product faster than cream formulas I’ve tried, but because of the results, I don’t mind repurchasing it more frequently. 

Amika The Wizard Detangling Primer

“My hairstylist specializes in cutting curly hair and uses this product in my hair right after washing it because it significantly smoothes, de-frizzes, detangles and protects my TK curly hair from heat damage,” says NBC Select production coordinator Kelsey Fredricks. “After using it in the salon, I now use it right before I diffuse my hair — it’s become a favorite addition of mine, plus the scent is like an amber musk dream.” 

Unite 7 Seconds Glossing Spray

This oil-based heat protectant is great for day two hair when you want to add a little more moisture. It’s suitable for all hair types, including extensions and chemically treated hair, according to the brand. All you need to do is spray it five to six inches away from dry hair before styling. You can also use it again after you style your hair for added shine and smoothness or if you want to add more of the fragrance to your hair.

Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray

This spray, which is suitable for all hair types, including color-treated, dry, frizz-prone hair,  doubles as a styling treatment. “I love that it keeps my frizz under control while also protecting my fine wavy hair from heat damage, especially because I use hot tools a lot,” says NBC Select updates editor Mili Godio. It’s also available in a formulation specifically for curly hair. “My curls look so much more defined when I use it with my diffuser,” says NBC Select associate updates editor Zoe Malin

Mizani Style Shifter Society Heat Screen 

If you have coily or curly hair, consider this lightweight spray from Mizani. You can use it on damp hair and work it in sections before blow drying, diffusing or putting your hair under a hooded dryer to help minimize frizz on curls without weighing them down, according to the brand. With a 4.5-star average rating from over 420 reviews on Amazon, reviewers say their coarse, coily, type 4 hair feels sleek without any tacky or sticky residue. 

The best heat protectant oils

Olaplex No. 9 Bond Protector Nourishing Hair Serum

With a 4.6-star average rating from over 1,200 reviews, this oil protects hair from environmental aggressors like pollution and heat. Reviewers say it helps by combatting tangles and frizz on and between wash days. Some reviewers even say they combined it with their favorite leave-in conditioner for extra moisture. 

Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat Protectant Primer

This Bumble and Bumble formula, which has a 4.7-star average rating from over 1,600 reviews at Ulta, has six oils to hydrate and protect hair from heat and UV damage, according to the brand. Reviewers say it doesn’t leave behind residue at the roots and has helped hold styles for longer periods of time. The color-safe product is suitable for all hair types and textures, and you can apply it on wet or dry hair. Since certain areas might be more or less porous, massage the oil into your hair to help it absorb evenly, according to the brand. 

How to shop for heat protectants

When you’re shopping for a heat protectant, the experts we spoke to recommend considering a few different factors and characteristics like your hair type, texture and ingredients.  

Hair type/texture

There are three main hair types: thin, medium and thick and four main textures, including straight, wavy, curly and coily. Depending on both your hair type and texture, you should consider specific characteristics when shopping. We break down what to look for based on type and texture below: 

  • Thin: Those with thin hair often have to deal with excess oil buildup, so look for a lightweight heat protectant so the hair won’t fall flat or exacerbate the oiliness, says Tang. Lightweight formulas tend to have ingredients like seed oils, which do not weigh down your hair as much as other ingredients, according to our experts. If you do decide to use a cream, it’s best to use it on wet hair because this will help prevent it from weighing down the hair, according to Gutterman. 
  • Medium to thick: With medium to thick hair, you can generally use all formulas because the hair can take more heat along with more product, says Gutterman. If your hair is on the dryer side, look for an oil or cream that can add moisture, and if your hair is frizzy, cream and oil formulas will help protect it and minimize frizz, according to Tang. 
  • Coarse: People with textured hair benefit the most from using heat protectants that are very moisturizing, as these hair types have a harder time absorbing moisture, says Redway. Coarse hair can usually take more heat, so you can get away with using all forms, including oils, creams and sprays, according to Gutterman. If you really want to evenly distribute the product, consider opting for a cream or oil as it will provide the most coverage, says Tang. 
  • Straight: Most people with straight hair also have thin hair, so in this case, a lightweight spray would be the best option, says Tang. However, if you have straight, thick hair, then a cream heat protectant will help better prevent damage.
  • Wavy: You can use a cream with wavy hair, and depending on how healthy the hair is, you can also layer a spray to give it an extra layer of protection, says Gutterman. 
  • Curly/coily: Curly and coily hair is not only prone to frizz but also dryness, according to Gutterman. “Making sure the hair is prepped with a cream heat protection and then sprayed with a heat styler prior to using hot tools will ensure you’re keeping the hair healthy,” she says. “If the ends are dry, adding an oil will help with the appearance and protect it as well.” 

Formulation

  • Spray: Spray heat protectants are the most common among the three, says Tang. This is because it’s the easiest to apply as it only takes a few spritzes. However, it’s not as thorough as a cream or oil might be, and it tends not to lock in as much moisture as the other formulations, according to Tang. A spray is great to use on top of a cream after the hair is dry before using a hot tool like a curling iron or flat iron, says Gutterman. 
  • Oil: If your hair is prone to frizz and dryness, an oil heat protectant is one of the best options for you, according to Gutterman. The oil will not only smooth out the hair, but it can also help with adding moisture and give your hair a shiny, healthy look, says Tang. With oil, you also have the ability to work the product into your hair to ensure it’s completely protected, according to Tang. It’s also great to use on the ends of the hair when using a curling iron, says Gutterman. 
  • Cream: A cream heat protectant is great for locking moisture into your hair, and you can apply it on wet or damp hair while the cuticles are still open to penetrate the inside layers of your strands, says Redway. This type of heat protectant is also great to combine with curly-hair specific products or before blow drying. Unlike a spray, you can apply these  with your hands giving yourself more precision, ensuring your whole head is covered, says Tang. If you use a cream after the shower and before you blow dry, it will last until the next wash, according to Gutterman. 

Ingredients

Certain ingredients will help protect your hair, including dimethicone, which you can find in a lot of products since this primarily acts as a shield when added into the hair, says Gutterman. Other ingredients, including octylacrylamide, acrylates, and methacrylate, are other key ingredients that provide strong thermal protection, says Tang. 

Grape-seed oil is another option you’ll commonly see since it can protect the hair up to 420 degrees Fahrenheit while also adding shine and moisture, according to Gutterman.

There are also some key ingredients to avoid including alcohol (dries out the hair), sulfates (can be drying and can cause damage if used with heat), parabens (can create a cast over that hair that will weigh it down and need to be removed with a clarifying shampoo), according to Gutterman. 

Meet our experts

At NBC Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

  • Sophie Rose Gutterman is a Los Angeles-based celebrity hairstylist, who specializes in curly hair. 
  • Guy Tang is a hairstylist, educator and founder of hair care brand #Mydentity
  • Lacy Redway is a Unilever stylist and celebrity hair artist for Tresemmé and SheaMoisture.  
  • Angela Walker is the founder of N Natural Hair Studio, a Maryland salon focused on textured hair care, including twists and locs. The salon only offers light blow dry services and does not offer heat-heavy services like silk presses, straightening or curling.
  • Tiffany Munoz is a hairstylist and co-owner of Moxie Park Salon in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Why trust NBC Select?

Bianca Alvarez is an associate reporter covering skin care, hair care and gift guides, including recent stories on body washes for sensitive skin and eye creams. For this story, she interviewed four hairstylists and shared their recommendations as well as researched highly rated heat protectants that met their guidance.

Catch up on NBC Select’s in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok to stay up to date.





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