Heat protection spray: How it works and why you need it

All Things Hair | 24 July 2018

It’s time to make heat protection spray your new BFF.

According to research, 76% of women in the UK use heated appliances on their hair*, which sounds about right. But did you know that only one in seven of these women use a heat protection spray?**

Safe to say, using a heat protectant doesn’t rank particularly high on most people’s hair care list. In fact, we’re going to take a wild guess that the majority of you reading this article are among the 85% currently baking your hair to a crisp with your straightener or curling wand on a daily basis. Sounds harsh, right?

Well, we don’t mean to scare you, but that’s essentially what you’re doing to your precious locks every time you use heated tools without protection (and yep, that goes for hairdryers, too).

But really, how important is it for us to use a heat protectant spray, you ask? Well, why not find out as we break it down into three digestible sections, ahead. Then you can judge for yourself whether or not it’s a necessary investment.

Heat protection spray: What you need to know


Close-up of brown frizzy hair in a ponytail
What does heat really do your hair? Credit: Verity Jane Smith

Understanding the composition of our hair…

Keratin (protein), lipids and water make up the hair shaft and, therefore, are essential to the healthy look and feel of our locks.

What heat does to your hair

Heated styling – be it blowdrying, straightening or curling – erodes the hair cuticle, adversely affecting the quality of those all-important protein and lipid balance, which, in turn, makes your hair more prone to damage and more difficult to style.

Close-up of a hand holding frizzy natural hair
Even hairdryers can cause heat damage. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

Protecting your hair from heat

Did you know that keratin can start to get damaged at just 160°C? That’s the lowest setting on most hair straighteners, mind you. Which means that your mane is weakened every time you use a heated appliance, making it less resistant to styling and brushing. And we all know what repeated forceful styling does to hair, don’t we? It causes split ends. Remember: because hair is dead, once the damage has been done, there’s no going back: it will not repair itself. So the best – and really, the only – choice you have is prevention.

Mixed race girl with half straight hair and half natural hair
Don’t forget to use a heat protectant, especially if you have black hair. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

What about heat protectant for black hair?

NB, black hair ladies: heat protectant for black hair is also really important. Due to tight curls of natural/afro hair, sebum has difficulty travelling down the hair shaft, which means that this hair type is more susceptible to dryness, brittleness, and more prone to breaking. Not to mention, if you’ve chemically treated your hair, it will also be vulnerable to damage. Therefore, heat styling without any protectant to guard to your fragile hair is just asking for hair troubles; so, hair + heat protectant is essential if you’re planning on using any heat on your curls.

Blonde woman holding her hair and spraying heat protect spray
Which heat protection spray will you use?

Which is where heat protection comes in!

So now that you understand the science behind hair damage caused by heat, hopefully, you’re beginning to see just how important it is to try and minimise the chances of that happening.

Specially formulated to help protect hair from heated tools, heat protectant for hair works by forming a protective layer – or if you like, a barrier – on top of the hair shaft, preventing the cuticles from being exposed to extreme heat. Often, they’re also mixed and infused with other ingredients – one of the most common being various types of silicone – which can help to smooth down the surface of the hair, resulting in shinier-looking and easier to style locks.

Flat lay of TRESemme, Toni&Guy and VO5 heat protectants
Make sure you pick the right heat protectant for you. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

Another thing to bear in mind is some heat protection sprays won’t only protect your hair, but they can help enhance the effectiveness of heated styling tools as well. So all in all, it should take less time to style your tresses – which means less exposure to high heat, and, therefore, less chances of damage. Win-win, right?

So now that you know the extent of damage caused by heated appliances, we’re hoping you’ll have come to the realisation that it’s absolutely imperative to use a heat protection on your tresses – not just once, but every time you use a straightener, curler or blowdryer.

Need some recommendations? See our pick of the best heat protectants, here.

*Source: Kantar Worldpanel Usage 12 m/e Dec 2014, Kantar Worldpanel Purchase; GB; 52 w/e data to 1st March 2015 **Source: Nielsen 52 we 3 Jan 2015 MAT





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