12 Best Heat Protectants for Curly Hair [Reviews & Guide]

Updated 5 months ago

Remember Monica Geller’s hair in Barbados? Yeah, humidity isn’t exactly your BFF when it comes to curly hairdos. Nor will the usual blow drying and hair straightening do your curls any favors. In fact, experience should have taught you that heat styling are often a one-way ticket to hair damage in the form of frizzy and lifeless hair strands, along with breakage and split ends.

So does that mean you should never use a heat styling tool on your curls anymore? Well, not exactly. Curly-haired gals can still enjoy switching up their hairstyles thanks to curly hair friendly heat protectants. No more limiting ourselves to only wavy ‘dos. A heat protectant is a definite must-have when it comes to heat styling. The protectant ensures your hair is able to withstand the high temperatures and intensely hydrates your locks to protect against heat damage. Without further ado, we would like to introduce the top 12 heat protectants that are best suited for curly hair. No more hairy situations of frying your curls and emergency trips to the hair salon ever again.

Top 12 Heat Protectants for Curly Hair

Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil & UV Protective Primer

To combat the frizz and protect your hair from high heat, this oil primer has been the go-to heat protectant for all curly-haired girls out there. Infused with an aromatic blend of lightweight oils, this multi-tasker does it all for your hair! It conditions, detangles, softens, and protects your hair from heat damage and UV rays to give you healthier, shinier curls. Because it does not contain alcohols, parabens, and phthalates, it isn’t drying and will not worsen your frizz. And while this is an oil product, be assured that it does not feel greasy nor will it weigh down your locks.

Arvazallia Heat Protectant Plus with Argan Oil

If you have a thing for argan oil, try this professional grade heat protection spray. Its advanced double-layer protection technology not only shields your curls from heat damage caused by styling tools but goes a step further to repair existing damage. The infusion of argan oil keeps your tresses moisturized, soft, and shiny without leaving an oily residue. It also keeps the frizz and breakage at bay. And to prove its effectiveness, those with thick and curly hair have raved incessantly about how it kept their curls smooth and fabulous even after exposing to a high heat of 380°C and more.

HSI Professional Argan Oil Thermal Protector

This brand is well-known for its quality hair styling tools like flat irons and hair straighteners. To complement its tools, HSI has concocted its own heat protectant spray that provides superb thermal protection of up to 450°F. Containing argan oil and shine-boosting hair vitamins, this spray also doubles up as a leave-in conditioner that will unravel even the knottiest of knots. Applying a small amount of this on damp hair promises you a painless, tangle-free combing experience. Fans of the product have vouched for its potency in eliminating frizz and making their curly hair softer and more manageable.

CHI 44 Iron Guard Thermal Protection Spray

For those on the lookout for a high performer, this spray is sure to become your new bestie. It offers thermal protection that works from the inside-out in order to seal the cuticle layer and prevent heat damage to the hair shaft. The weightless formula also means minimal build-up which makes washing it off less of a chore. Reviewers who tried this spray has gone back to it time and time again as it protected their hair from burning under extreme heat, and even helped to tame flyaways and frizz effortlessly.

CHI Silk Infusion

If you prefer a leave-in treatment, try this other CHI product. One notch above the previous product, this Silk Infusion is enhanced with Pure Natural Silk, Wheat, and Soy Proteins to deeply condition your hair, prevent moisture loss, and promote healthy hair growth. Given the numerous hair benefits, this heat protectant is well worth its price, particularly since a dime-sized amount goes a long way. A reviewer, in particular, even mentioned that it has helped her flat iron glide more smoothly over her thick and coarse strands to reduce friction and hair breakage. Get this if you want silky, smooth, and shiny hair without requiring extra time to manage wayward curls.

Ouidad Advanced Climate Control® Heat & Humidity Gel

Specifically formulated for wavy and tightly coiled hair, this triple threat is the one you need if you want to add definition to your curls during heat styling. Firstly, it contains Wheat Protein and pliable styling Polymers that effortlessly hold your curls’ original shape. Next, it is infused with Anti-Frizz Nano Technology and Sericin (a silk-derived protein) to seal the cuticles and keep out the frizzies. Lastly, it is topped off with a UV filter to protect your hair from sun damage. With this impressive formula, it is no wonder that the gel has been highly raved by the masses for conquering stubborn frizzy curls and humidity-high temperatures. The gel is also pretty lightweight which prevents your hair from feeling crunchy or sticky after application.

ThermaFuse HeatSmart Serum Dry Oil Treatment

A dry oil serum that provides ample heat protection for your tresses. It is fortified with Argan, Acai, and Flaxseed Oil to infuse your locks with instant hydration, keeping them glossy and smooth. It also helps to repair previous heat damage, hence making it ideal for those whose hair feels brittle and dry. The triple oil blend also means that this protectant doubles up as a detangler to resolve any difficult knots so that you can easily cut down your styling time by 30%. Most importantly, it delivers what it promises as users complimented on the product’s effectiveness in taming the frizz and flyaways while upholding your curls well. The luscious vanilla musk scent doesn’t hurt either.

Verb Ghost Oil

This multitasker is what you need to stock up on. Enriched with Moringa Oil, this product not only shields your hair from extreme heat, but it also acts as a detangler and moisturizer. The heat protectant instantly hydrates the hair shaft to keep it smooth and soft, thereby preventing fuzzy hair texture. Complemented with a refreshing citrusy scent, this has been much-loved among curly haired types for keeping their hair soft and lustrous all day. The oil is transparent so you don’t have to worry about altering your hair color. Given its serum-like consistency, you only need a few drops of this to coat your hair completely. It absorbs rapidly so that your hair doesn’t feel sticky or messy after application.  

ArtNaturals Argan Oil Thermal Shield

For those who want a sulfate-free heat protectant, try this one by ArtNaturals. Besides Argan Oil, the formula also contains botanical extracts like Ginseng, Gingko Biloba, Irish Moss, and Peach to nourish and rehydrate your curls. This product is your hair’s first line of defense against daily high heat exposure to prevent hair brittleness, dryness, and split ends. The added UV protection also means no sun or humidity damage. It leaves your hair incredibly soft and does not feel oily at all. Users witnessed a dramatic reduction in hair frizziness after heat styling. So if you are the high-maintenance type who blow dry or flat iron on a daily basis, you can now do so without any worries of heat damage. This spray is also perfect for color treated hair types.

OGX Ever Straightening + Brazilian Keratin Therapy Flat Iron Spray

If you find the Keratin Therapy at your local salon too extravagant, get the drugstore alternative by OGX which promises quality heat protection while helping you to straighten your curls. The potent blend of Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, Cocoa Butter, and Keratin Proteins add the shine and bounce back into your hair, minus the grease. This spray also boosts the effectiveness of your hair straightener so that you don’t have to use as much heat as you normally do to get sleek, straight locks. It also keeps your hair straight for hours on end which means you will still look just as fabulous at the end of the day.

Phyto Phytokeratine Repairing Thermal Protectant Spray

For those with already damaged hair, this heat protectant spray will resurrect your dry and brittle curls. It is fortified with Botanical Keratin to repair the hair’s inner structure, Ceramides to seal the cuticle layer in order to keep the moisture in. Yun Zhi Mushroom is also added to provide thermal protection against styling tools. As this spray is heat-activated, you get to repair and protect your hair while blow drying or straightening your curls. In fact, it has helped countless users cut down on their hair drying time. It’s also a great detangler so you will have an easier time brushing your curls without hitting snags and causing unwanted hair breakage.

With these CG-certified thermal protectants to shield your hair from heat damage, you’ll never have to face the burning odor of singed hair again or anguish in dismay over the frizziness of your ‘do after styling.

Why You Should Use a Heat Protectant for Curly Hair

Common heat styling devices like your flat iron or straightener often utilize extremely high temperatures of 200°C or more. This increases the chances of the external cuticle layer on your hair strand from being lifted which causes damage to the inner cortex layer. Repeated thermal stressors will raise the overlapping scales of the cuticle, thereby leading to increased hair porosity, a sign of weakened and damaged hair. When you suffer from high hair porosity, it is likely for your hair to become frizzy and knotted, which results in even more breakage and split ends. Twas’ a vicious cycle that you should avoid.

This is where heat protectants come in to save the day. These thermal shields contain hair-strengthening ingredients that smoothen out the cuticle layer, seal in moisture and shine to prevent frizz, and provide ample protection from high heat exposure. Some of them even have additional benefits like detangling, conditioning, and styling. Given that heat protectants are available in numerous forms such as sprays, creams, gels, serums, and oils, you will be sure to find one that fits your needs perfectly.

Thermal Protection Ingredients

Quality heat protectants often contain two commonly-used ingredients - Silicones and Natural Oils. We will explore why these ingredients are beneficial in protecting your hair from the extreme heat below.

Silicones

Silicones, by nature, are heat-resistant and durable polymers. As such, they are an ideal choice as a key ingredient in thermal protection for your hair. They create a film that coats the hair strand to keep out humidity which eliminates frizz. This film also provides shine and slip to keep your hair soft and smooth. Some silicone types, like Polysiloxane Polymers, can even smoothen out raised cuticle scales which prevents heat damage to the hair. Another popular silicone form is Dimethicone which not only protects the hair shaft from being abraded but also adds shine and luster by reflecting light. However, silicones may have a bad street cred due to certain misunderstandings. Most people feel that silicones should not be included in the hair care products as most of them are water-insoluble. This could lead to a build-up of the substance which will then require the use of harsh cleansing agents to remove it. However, while this line of reasoning is true, we should not assume that all silicones are water-insoluble. In fact, Dimethicone Copolyol and Lauryl Methicone Copolyol, which are commonly used in hair products, are water-soluble. This means that they are easy to wash out with a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo while offering your hair superior heat-protecting capabilities.

Natural Oils

Another key ingredient to look out for in a quality heat protectant is natural oils like Coconut Oil and Argan Oil. Coconut oil has been scientifically proven to penetrate the hair shaft and reduce internal protein loss which enhances your hair strength and health. Moreover, it keeps the cuticle layer well-moisturized with a thin film that does not weigh down your hair or make it look greasy. Moroccan argan oil has also been well-loved due to its rich Vitamin E and fatty acid content. It’s easily absorbed by the hair and is ideal as a natural hair moisturizer.

Of course, there are other ingredients that will undoubtedly boost the effectiveness of your heat protectant. Make sure to scan through the ingredient list carefully before buying so that you know your hair will be in good hands.

How to Use a Heat Protectant

To make sure you’re really getting the most out of your heat protectant, we show you the steps to use it correctly:

  • Shampoo and Condition: you want to start on a clean base so break out the shampoo and conditioner for fully-cleansed hair. This will allow the heat protectant to better penetrate the hair shaft during application later. A tip from hair experts is to use cold water while rinsing as the lower temperatures will seal in the cuticle layer and minimize heat exposure.

  • Apply Protectant on Damp Hair: always remember to apply the heat protectant on damp hair (unless otherwise stated on the product). If you’re using a spray, make sure to hold it at a reasonable distance from your hair before spritzing. For gels, serums, and creams, take a small amount and coat your hair evenly. Adjust the amount you’ll need according to how long and thick your hair is.

And ta-dah! You are all set to use whatever heat styling tools you desire for the day. A heat protectant is pretty easy to apply and the benefits are more than worth the small effort required in protecting your hair during the longer term.

Wrap Up

Curls that lose their shape after a few hours or untameable flyaways that make your hair resemble a lion’s mane are a thing of the past with these CG-friendly heat protectants. According to professional hair stylists, consistent use of these protectants will smoothen out frazzled locks, put the bounce back in your curls, and make your hair healthier than ever. So, don’t forget to reach out for one of these beauties the next time you plug in your blow dryer or flat iron.