Don't use a flat iron on your hair without protecting it first.

By Erin Lukas
Jun 16, 2020 @ 6:40 pm
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

My love-hate relationship with my flat iron dates back to 2001.

Since middle school, I've relied on my straightener for two things: the sleekest and smoothest hair of my life, or to give myself loose beachy waves. However, using a hair straightener practically every day comes with a great price.

My hair was constantly dry and full of tangles, and once I started dyeing my hair in high school, my color always seemed to get orange and brassy in just a few weeks.

While I have no regrets about the Kelly Clarkson-inspired chunky highlights I got after seeing her compete on the first season of American Idol, I do wish I knew to use a heat protectant spray before blow-drying and styling my hair with a flat iron.

Today, I'm older, wiser, and never use hot tools without prepping with a heat protectant spray first.

Here's why including this step in your hair-styling routine is so important: these sprays guard hair from the high temperatures of your favorite straightener, blow dryer, and curling iron. Too much heat exposure can cause dryness, frizz, breakage, and can make color-treated hair fade quicker.

While shielding your hair from excessive heat is the priority, many of these sprays have bonus features including ingredients that can make your blowout last even longer, offer UV protection, and moisturize and repair hair.

So the next time you find yourself picking up a flat iron or blow dryer, spritz your hair with one of these 10 heat protectants first.

Best Overall: Bumble and bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Heat & UV Protective Primer

Credit: Courtesy

This milky primer checks off all the boxes: It provides heat and UV protection, moisturizes, detangles, and cuts down frizz. Despite being packed with rich, nourishing oils including coconut, argan, sweet almond, and safflower seed, it doesn't weigh hair down with any greasy residue.

To buy: $28;

Best for Color-Treated Hair: Pureology Colour Fanatic Multi-Tasking Hair Beautifier

Credit: Courtesy

Color-treated hair is already at a disadvantage before you take a curling iron or straightener to it. Because since hair can get damaged during chemical processing, using hot tools can make things worse. Pureology's spray protects colored hair by sealing in moisture to prevent split ends and breakage, plus keeps color from fading.

To buy: $27;

Best for Blowouts: Living Proof Blowout

Credit: Courtesy

Who says you need to go to a salon for a perfect blowout? Living Proof's primer is a styler and heat protectant in one. This spray features patented technology that not only cuts down drying time, but adds shape and volume to all hair types. Finish your blowout off with a second spritz once your hair is dry and cool to set your style.

To buy: $27;

Best for Dry Hair: Moroccanoil Perfect Defense Thermal Protection Spray

Credit: Courtesy

Thanks to the brand's hero ingredient, argan oil, this lightweight spray moisturizes dry, frizzy hair while shielding it from heat damage.

To buy: $28;

Best for Curly Hair: Cantu Shea Butter Thermal Shield Heat Protectant

Credit: Courtesy

Now, Cantu's lightweight spray is proof that you don't need to spend double digits to get quality hair products. Made with nourishing shea butter, the protectant reduces frizz, flyways, and works well on textured, relaxed, colored, and permed hair. The lightweight spray shields hair from flat irons and other hot tools up to 450 degrees.

To buy: $4;

Best for Fine Hair: Alterna My Hair My Canvas Soaring High Volumizing Blowout Mist

Credit: Courtesy

Looking to cut down the products in your styling routine? Alterna's featherlight mist doubles as a heat protectant and volumizing spray. On top of protecting hair from heat up to 450 degrees, it lifts and texturizes limp hair and keeps humidity out for up to 12 hours. Bonus: The multitasking spray is infused with white charcoal to absorb excess oil and grease. Your blowouts will have a longer shelf life, and thus, your hair will be less exposed to heat.

To buy: $28;

Best for Knots: Drunk Elephant Marula Detangling Spray

Credit: Courtesy

Knots and tangles don't stand a change against Drunk Elephant's detangling spray, which the brand developed with the help of Jennifer Aniston's go-to hairstylist Chris McMillion. The mix of fruit, nut, and tea oils condition, smooth, and soften the hair shaft, which minimizes knots. Brushing your hair will be a lot less painful, but this primer doesn't stop there. It also includes fruit oils packed with fatty acids and antioxidants that coat hair to protect it from heat damage.

To buy: $25;

Best for UV Protection: Sun Bum Heat Protector

Credit: Courtesy

Think of Sun Bum's heat protector like sunscreen for your hair. It blocks UV rays from fading and drying out strands. Indoors, it's formulated to speed up your blow-drying time so there's less risk of breakage and hydrate hair for a sleek, smooth finish.

To buy: $15;

Best for Style Hold: Kenra Professional Thermal Styling Spray 19

Credit: Courtesy

Some hard truth: You can use the best curling iron and styling products in the world and your waves could still need a touch-up the day after. That's where Kenra's heat protectant comes in. The spray helps hold the shape of styles and adds shine.

To buy: $18;

Best Drugstore: TRESemme Keratin Smooth Heat Protection Shine Spray

Credit: Courtesy

What if we told you the secret to the sleekest, silkiest hair of your life is just $6 at your local drugstore? Now that we have your attention, this drugstore staple guards from heat up to 450 degrees and is infused with keratin and marula oil for extra soft hair.

To buy: $6;