From straightening to curling (and now we’re even crimping again) our hair has never had it better when it comes to easy at-home hairstyling. And while the latest game-changing hair tools can cleverly offer optimum styling temperatures, what they can’t do is actually protect your strands from the heat itself – that’s where heat protection sprays come in.
These sprays create a protective barrier around the strand’s surface, think of it as a shield that slows down heat conduction from your styler. Without, the high temperature will dehydrate the cuticle, weakening strands, leading to dry, dull, frizzy hair that’s more prone to breakage and fallout.
Don’t think heat protection sprays are just for those that use direct heat on the hair with straightening irons and curling tongs. You should use a heat protection spray “every time any sort of heat is applied to hair – even when blow-drying,” warns Stephanie Ferreira, senior colourist at Live True London. For best results “rough dry the hair before spraying it so that the strength of the product isn’t diluted by the water inside the hair, she says.”
With even the most low-maintenance of us using at least a hair-dryer on our locks regularly, a heat protector is an essential hair product way too many of us are not using. From budget-friendly sprays to more advanced formulations infused with hair-loving ingredients, you’ll find ones that work for your budget and hair type. Therefore, there’s no excuse to skip this vital hair care step anymore.
How we tested
To help you pick the best heat protecting spray for you and your hair, we put the latest to the test. We assessed them on how well they defended against damage, but also on the added hair care benefits they offered. Here are the best products to prep and prime your tresses with…
The best heat protection sprays for 2023 are:
- Best overall – Pureology colour fanatic multi-tasking leave-in spray: £22.13, amazon.co.uk
- Best for under £10 – Umberto Giannini grow long + smooth wonder blow dry spray: £8.95, Boots.com
- Best for damaged strands – Redken extreme play safe heat protection treatment: £34.99, amazon.co.uk
- Best for cutting down on drying time – Amika the wizard detangling primer: £23, Spacenk.com
- Best for dry styling – Moroccanoil perfect defense: £11.90, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for dry, coarse or brittle strands – Bumble and Bumble hairdressers invisible oil primer: £27, Johnlewis.com
- Best for fine hair – ghd bodyguard heat protect spray: £18.95, Cultbeauty.co.uk
- Best for hair prone to breakage – Kerastase genesis defense thermique: £27.25, Feelunique.com
- Best for detangling – Philip Kingsley daily damage defence leave-in conditioner: £17.00, Allbeauty.com
- Best for colour protection – Oribe invisible defence universal protection spray: £39.50, Spacenk.com
Pureology colour fanatic multi-tasking leave-in spray
From the brand that makes it a priority to care for coloured hair, this spritz is multi-tasking hair care at its finest. Firstly, it provides heat protection preventing strands from getting frazzled, but it’s so much more than that too. In fact, it ticks 21 boxes when it comes to priming, protecting and perfecting benefits for the hair.
Noticeably we found it moisturised dry strands, thanks to the blend of natural oils – making it much more manageable, easier to brush and silky soft to touch. It felt stronger too with less fallout the more we used it. And best of all, we noticed it prolonged fresh-from-the-salon vibrancy. And we have to give it extra points for the divine floral fragrance that lingers throughout the day.
Umberto Giannini grow long and smooth wonder blow dry spray
From all the purse-friendly options, we found this spray made for banishing frizz with built-in heat protection a winner. On application, it seals the cuticle creating a protective layer around each strand that repels moisture from the air that causes it to pouf, as well as creating a protective shield for when heat is applied. The super lightweight spray leaves locks smooth, silky and glossy and with a hint of sweet-smelling chocolate.
Redken extreme play safe heat protection treatment
From chemical to colour damaged strands, if your mane is on the fragile side you should introduce this leave-in treatment to your hair care routine. Not only does it minimise further harm with heat protection, but it helps repair existing damage with plant-based proteins. It’s a cream-based product rather than a spray, so we found it best to comb through for even distribution. After styling, hair looks in much better shape: smoother, softer and less brittle, especially on the ends, with results getting better the more you use it.
Amika the wizard detangling primer
Pick up this spritz for another multi-tasking find that speeds up your blow-drying time, can undo the toughest tangles, as well as provide added hydration and that all-important heat protection. Packed with a cocktail of avocado oil full of hair-loving proteins, vitamins and minerals, hair-strengthening provitamin b5 and sea buckthorn full of omega 7 for elasticity and hydration, we found this leaves strands sleek, shiny and smelling incredible all day long.
Moroccanoil perfect defense
Enriched with argan oil just like the rest of the haircare from the brand – and smelling just as amazing too with their signature scent – this provides hair-loving nourishment, as well as heat protection. The moisturising “wonder” oil is paired with provitamin b5 for hair strengthening, so after just one use expect your hair not only to look healthier but feel it too. It’s a dry aerosol, so it’s a great pick for those that like to change up styles often straightening and curling without needing to wash in-between.
Bumble and Bumble hairdressers invisible oil primer
Make this your go-to for transforming hair on the unmanageable side, as well as shielding hair from scorching heat. Packed with 6 lightweight oils including coconut, argan and macadamia nut, this packs a moisturising punch without making strands look greasy. A health fix for straw-like strands, this detangles even the toughest knots, tames frizz and smooths parched strands, making them feel incredibly soft too. This is a brilliant pick for curls too!
ghd bodyguard heat protect spray
The brand behind some of our favourite styling tools has a collection of styling products that shouldn’t be overlooked, including this gem. It’s so lightweight that we didn’t even feel it in the hair, like an invisible shield that we only noticed once we were wondering what was making our hair so soft and smooth. This would especially suit those with fine hair strands, as it won’t weigh hair down like heavier products can.
Kerastase genesis defense thermique
If you’re seeing increased amounts of hair fallout in the shower or on your brush, turn to this anti-breakage heat protectant. Spritz the light fluid on, comb through and dry. You’ll then notice instantly how better hydrated your strands look, as well as how it tames frizz. It gets to work strengthening a weakened hair shaft, so the more you use it the healthier your hair will look and feel.
Philip Kingsley daily damage defence leave-in conditioner
This conditioning spray not only protects your hair from damage but boosts its moisture levels too, making hair smoother, softer and much easier to get a brush through if your tresses are prone to being unmanageable. Rich in amino acids and proteins, this strengthens strands with regular use. After two weeks, we saw such an improvement to overall hair health hair with much less shower fallout from breakage.
Oribe invisible defence universal protection spray
It’s the priciest of the bunch, but if you pay salon prices for your colour and want to protect it from fading, it’s worth every penny. The light mist works on all hair textures, shielding locks from high heat styling tools, as well as pollution and UV rays – we’re packing the travel size on our next sunny getaway. We found it not only kept our tester’s blonde hair looking bright and fresh for longer, but kept frizz at bay and left stands with a soft silkiness to them.
The verdict: Heat protection sprays
Our best buy goes to the Pureology colour fanatic multi-tasking leave-in spray because it offers numerous hair care benefits, not only shielding strands from high heat but prolonging salon-colour vibrancy, as well as leaving it in an all-round better condition. If you’re looking to spend less, the Umberto Giannini grow long and smooth wonder blow dry spray is the way to go.
Looking for salon-worthy styles at home? Try our picks of the best hair straighteners