How does heat protection spray work? Your essential guide

It's time to make heat protection spray your new BFF.
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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 those 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?

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

Benefits of heat protection spray

  • Sleek, soft and shiny hair
  • Protects your hair from heat damage
  • Enhance the effectiveness of styling tools
  • Reduces the chances of general damage

Heat protection sprays protect your hair and some can even help enhance the effectiveness of heated styling tools. So, the benefits of using a heat protection spray are that it should take less time to style your tresses and reduce the chances of damage because your hair is less exposure to high heat. Win-win.

When to use heat protection spray

Don’t know when to use a heat protection spray? The answer is: whenever you use heated styling tools, even a hairdryer.

“To me, heat protection is exactly the same as sun protection. You wouldn’t go in the sun without using sun cream and you should never be putting heat on your hair without using heat protection” says Aaron Carlo, Celebrity hairstylist and TRESemmé UK Hair Ambassador.

Bleach blonde woman holding her hair and spraying VO5 heat protect spray
Which heat protection spray will you use? Credit: Verity Jane Smith

How does heat protection spray work?

  • Creates a protective layer/barrier
  • Prevents the cuticle from being exposed to extreme heat
  • Helps smooth the hair surface
  • Stops your hair from being frazzled/heat damage

Specially formulated to help protect hair from heated tools, heat protectant for hair works by forming a protective layer or 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.

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

Does heat protectant really work?

But does heat protectant really work? The short answer is yes. 

Keratin can start to get damaged at just 160°C and that’s also the lowest setting on most hair straighteners. 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 that repeated forceful styling can cause 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 AKA using a heat protectant.

ATH 5 Reasons you should use Heat Protectant Infographic
What does heat really do your hair? Credit: Verity Jane Smith

Why use heat protectant for hair?

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

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

woman with black hair
Don’t forget to use a heat protectant, especially if you have black hair. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

Heat protectant for black hair

NB: heat protectant for black hair is also really important.

Due to the tight curls of natural/afro hair, sebum has difficulty travelling down the hair shaft, which means that these hair types are more susceptible to dryness and more prone to breaking.

Not to mention, if you’ve chemically treated/relaxed 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.

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 heat protection on your tresses – not just once, but every time you use a straightener, curler or hairdryer.

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

*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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