Styling your hair with heated tools can be a double-edged sword.
With so many women turning to heat styling for instant hairstyles, it’s no wonder many end up with damaged hair, an abundance of split ends, and even hair loss.
Research shows that flat irons can cause substantial hair damage since they usually heat up to over 200 °C (392°F). We can only imagine the stress our hair strands endure while we try to straighten them.
However, a dreadful scenario can be averted if you adopt a useful habit of using heat protectant sprays that keep your hair healthy and safe from suffering extensive heat damage. The thing about heat protectants is that, on average, they last for up to 4 hours after applying them to your hair.
With that in mind, you’ll have plenty of time to style your hair using any styling tool like flat iron, a blow dryer, a curling iron, or any other heat styling device of your choice.
Keep reading to better understand the functionality of heat protectants and how long heat protectants last. Moreover, we’ll also break down the basics of heat protectants, so be sure to stay tuned.
Starting Off with the Basics: What’s a Heat Protectant?
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A heat protectant is a hair product that protects the hair from heat. It ensures your hair stays safe from drying out and developing split ends and breakage.
Heat protectant helps with retaining moisture in the hair shaft. It also minimizes the damaging effects of blow dryers and flat irons running at high temperatures.
Benefits of Using Heat Protectants
Nothing can preserve your hair’s health better than a heat protectant. These types of hair products are beneficial to any type of hair – thick, fine, kinky, dull, or prone to breakage.
Let’s have a look at some of the benefits heat protectants offer.
- Smoothen hair: Hair products like heat protectants help smooth out the cuticles of your hair shaft. By doing day, the product ensures your hair becomes less porous and more resistant to frizz during humid weather conditions.
- Restore moisture: Heat tools are known to quench the moisture out of your hair follicles. By doing so, your hair becomes less lively and can break easily.
- Using heat-resisting hair products, you’re helping your hair stay moisturized and fend off heat damage more efficiently.
- Prevent moisture loss: Other than restoring the moisture in your hair, a nice heat protectant will also combat moisture loss during heat styling. Hair dehydration, heat at high temperatures, or external factors like dry weather can cause moisture loss.
- Spraying heat protectant will form a protective film around your hairs and lock in moisture.
- Lubricate hair: A heat protection spray helps you easily manage your locks. Moreover, if your hair is prone to knots and tangles, spritz heat protectant on dry hair, and you can detangle it without much effort.
How Long Does Heat Protectant Last?
This is one of those concerns people who regularly use heated tools have. Since heat styling tools usually involve heat, people are often puzzled by the duration of the effects of heat protectants.
In general, the main role of heat-repelling products for hair is to smooth the hair cuticles of the hair core. Heat protectants work in a way that lessens the hair’s porosity, making it resistant to frizz and extreme conditions.
In essence, the effects of these hair care products will last a range of 4 hours after being applied to hair. If the time limit is surpassed, their efficacy will wear off. For instance, if you spritz a heat protectant in the morning, you can style your hair even 4 hours later.
A-list hair stylists like Clariss Rubenstein suggest using your go-to heat protector or natural oil on damp hair to ensure the water molecules in your hair cuticles are intact and protected from heat damage.
Most women who use a heat protection spray tend to do so on wet hair and then proceed with adding heat, whether using a blow dryer or a flat iron. Moreover, they start by styling their hair right after applying the product.
Doing so will ensure you get the most out of the heat-repelling product and use heat freely.
Should a Heat Protectant Be Reapplied?
This is a fairly logical question, and it’s common sense to wonder how much or how often to reapply a heat protectant before applying heat. Now that we’ve explained how long heat protectant lasts after applying it, let’s see whether reapplying it is a good idea.
Since a heat protectant lasts for up to 4 whole hours, you can heat style your hair within the timeframe. So, in other words, you don’t need to keep layering your hair with a heat protectant.
For instance, after you’ve used a flat iron to heat-style your hair, there’s no room for hair damage once your locks cool down. However, heat protectant reapplication is advisable in a couple of instances.
- Before applying heat anew: Let’s say you’ll be styling your hair with different heat tools in one go. If you blow-dry, flat iron, and then curl your hair, you must apply a heat protectant three times.
- Once before blow drying, once before flat ironing, and once before curling your hair. So, applying a heat protectant is a good idea each time you use heat.
- After the initial 4 hours: Heat protection sprays allow you a timeframe of 4 hours to heat-style your locks. So, applying heat protection sprays after said the time has passed is a must.
As we mentioned earlier, the effects of even the best heat protectant wear off after the 4-hour window, so be aware of it and reapply as needed.
Should You Let Heat Protectant Dry Before Applying Heat?
After you’ve applied your go-to heat protectant, it’s important to let it dry before you use heat to flat iron or blow dry your hair. On the contrary, you’ll subdue your strands to massive burning as heat passes through your hair follicles.
If you work on your hair while the heat protectant isn’t fully dried out, you’ll hear the dreadful scalding sound of your hair getting fried. You won’t have to wait minutes for the product to work. Merely a few seconds are enough for the heat protectant to dry off, so be patient – better to wait for a few seconds than to burn your hair.
Recap of the Basic Dos and Don’ts of Heat Protectants
Even though a heat protectant is one of the easiest ways to ward off the damaging effects of heat on hair, its effects rely heavily on how you use it. Both men and women end up with substantial hair deterioration because they are unaware of how to use a heat protectant properly.
- Wait for a couple of seconds to let the protectant dry before adding heat to your styling ritual. Otherwise, you are risking hair damage;
- Ensure even distribution of a heat protection spray or cream before you flat iron or curl your locks. To achieve that, make sure you choose a heat-repelling product that’s the easiest to use (cream or a spray);
- Throw out the heat protectant after one or two years of use. All heat-warding hair products have a lifespan of around 1 and 2 years.
- Avoid using a heat protectant excessively: Don’t soak your stands in the product – it’ll be way less effective and cause your hair to burn when using a flat iron, for example;
- Don’t use heat after 4 hours of applying a heat protectant. If you plan to use a flat iron after four and a half hours of spraying your hair with a heat-repelling spray – don’t! Your hair is no longer protected after the said timeframe.
- Don’t apply heat to hair without protecting it first!
Having certain questions about heat protectants is totally normal, especially if you haven’t used one at all so far. From how long does heat protectant last to whether you can use a heat protectant spray on natural hair, we’ve made a shortlist of the most frequently asked questions on the topic.
Do Heat Protectants Expire?
Manufacturers of heat protectants aren’t obligated to put an expiration date on such products because they generally don’t go bad. Heat protection sprays can last up to a year of use, some will even last longer. So, don’t worry about expired or old products.
Can I Apply Heat Protectant Spray at One Time and Style My Hair Later?
Of course, you can. Since heat protectants ensure protection over the course of 4 hours in general, you can use a heat protectant and finish styling your hair whenever you feel like it.
The product will deliver protection without evaporating, so you can rest assured applying a heat protectant now and adding heat later will be as efficient as it should be.
Can I Use Coconut Oil as a Substitute for a Heat-Protection Spray?
You sure can! In fact, women with natural hair swear by the benefits of applying coconut oil before heat styling. Due to its conditioning and nourishing traits, you can safely use coconut oil before your hair gets flat ironed to add a protective barrier between your hair and the heat.
Is Almond Oil Good for Protecting My Hair While Heat Styling?
Other than coconut oil, almond oil is another natural heat protector you can use before curling or straightening your hair. Because of its high smoke point, almond oil makes for a good extra layer of protection before using hot tools.
Plus, any hair type can benefit from almond oil before using heating tools on their locks. Color-treated hair is also safe to use almond oil as a heat protector.
From the moment you apply your preferred type of heat protectant to the time you apply heat to style your hair, you’ll have around 4 hours to complete your look. A heat protection spray and creams will defend your curls from the heat from a curling iron, a flat iron, a blow dryer, or any other heat-using styling tool of your choice.
A heat protectant lasts up to 4 hours before and after applying heat, and which is the best heat protectant for you depends on your hair type and styling preference. You can apply a heat protectant on dry hair or whilst your locks are damp.
‘Till we dabble into a different hair subject, keep your hair safe and rock on those locks with confidence!
Shehnaz is the co-founder and the chief editor for Salon-Worthy Hair.
She combines an interesting background in cosmetics and copywriting, which fires her passion for this blog.
When she’s not busy trying out new hair treatments or editing, you can find her curled up with a good book or taking long walks with her cute dog.