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What Is Heat Protection Hair Spray?

By Amanda R. Bell
Updated May 21, 2024
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Heat protection hair spray is a product used to shield delicate strands from damage due to heat styling. The most basic varieties of this beauty product coat the outside of individual strands, providing a barrier between hot tools and the hair. These products also often provide added benefits, including moisturizing or nourishing ingredients and aid in increasing shine or camouflaging dead ends. Certain products may also provide holding power in conjunction with heat protection, helping hair to straighten easier or to hold a curl for longer.

Hair dryers, flat irons, and curling irons can damage the hair with every use, even if they are the highest quality hot tool. Heat protection hair spray is applied to damp or dry hair prior to using one of these hot tools to seal the outside of the hair shaft. This prevents the heat of the tool from overheating or burning the inside of the hair, causing it to break. When used prior to blow drying, and then applied again before using a flat iron or curling iron, this type of hair spray can also help to limit split ends.

While there are several different types of heat protection hair spray available, most products offer more than just protection. These sprays commonly include moisturizing ingredients and nutrients that sink into the hair shaft before it is sealed, nourishing hair while protecting it from damage. This helps to soften the hair, restoring some of the moisture lost due to damage and helping to make it more manageable. Some heat protectants also act to guard hair from sun damage and include UVA and UVB protection.

This type of hair spray can also help to increase shine and temporarily seal split ends, hiding the damage until the hair gets wet. Ingredients such as silicone, vitamin E. and silk protein coat the hair shaft with a shiny finish, protecting the hair while making it look healthier and silkier. In many cases, the shine-enhancing properties of a heat protectant hair spray will also help to eliminate frizz and protect hair from humidity.

Outside of protecting, nourishing, and increasing shine in the hair, heat protection hair spray can also help a style hold longer. The product typically contains ingredients similar to those found in light-hold hair sprays, and, when these ingredients come in contact with heat, they help to lock in a style. Heat protection hair sprays may also include ingredients that help to relax hair, making it easier to straighten, or to activate one’s natural curls, making it easier for straight or wavy hair to hold a curled style for longer.

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Discussion Comments

By Oceana — On May 13, 2012

@shell4life – It depends on the type of heat protection spray you are using. If it is heat activated, then it will do nothing if no heat is applied. If it is merely for protection, it might give you some shine without the heat.

I have had some bad experiences with heat protection spray that boasted about its ability to increase shine, though. I sprayed a moderate amount on my damp hair and blow dried it, and it made my roots look so oily that I had to shampoo the stuff out.

So, I only use the kind that claims to be heat activated and doesn't market itself as a “shine” spray. All heat protection sprays will enhance shine, so no extra moisturizing ingredients need to be added. When there is too much oil in a product, it naturally makes your hair oily.

By shell4life — On May 12, 2012

I use a heat protection spray designed to add extra shine to my hair. I spray it all over the surface of my hair before blow drying.

Though it does a good job of taming frizz, I do one thing that helps it along. I run a vented brush through my hair while blow drying it, and this helps to further smooth it out. The smoother my hair is, the more it will reflect light.

I'm curious about what would happen if I used the spray on my hair without following it up with a heated styling tool. Would it still seal in the shaft and make my hair shiny, or would it do nothing at all?

By StarJo — On May 12, 2012

@lighth0se33 – It is really different from regular hair spray. It is designed to be worked with after application, so it won't hold your hair in one place.

I blow dry my hair and use a curling iron every day, so I start by using heat protection shampoo and conditioner. That way, my hair is protected while I blow dry it, and I don't have to apply the hair spray twice.

I spray it onto each section of hair before wrapping it around my curling iron. Once I let it go, it looks very smooth and holds the shape much longer than it would without the spray.

By lighth0se33 — On May 11, 2012

I'm a little bit confused about heat protection hair spray. Every type of hair spray I have ever used has made my hair feel stiff. How can applying this before using a curling iron make your hair more manageable?

It seems to me that it would do the opposite. I know that after I apply regular hair spray, I can't make my hair do anything other than hold the style it had before I sprayed it. Then again, I've never tried heat protection hair spray, so it must do something entirely different.

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