Many people are always wondering, how long does heat protectant last? If you frequently use heat on your hair, there’s a good chance you also use heat protectant, whether that be in the form of a spray, cream, or oil. As you reach for your protectant before you grab the curling iron you may be wondering, how long does heat protectant last? Can I apply it now and curl my hair later?
Heat protectant is intended for immediate use. If you apply it, it is assumed you are about to use heat on your hair or will be shortly after. If you want to let it soak into your hair, you can leave it on for about an hour before applying heat. After about an hour, the ingredients in the product may still be beneficial to your hair in other ways, but the actual heat protectant will be less effective.
What is Heat Protectant?
Heat protectant is a product usually in the form of a spray, oil, or cream that you apply to your hair before using heat tools such as a blowdryer, straightener, or curling iron. When applied, a heat protectant provides a layer of protection between the hair and the heat, so that when heat is applied the protectant slowly burns in the heat rather than your hair.
They also work to seal in moisture and reduce frizz to avoid that dry or brittle look. If you are not familiar with a heat protectant, go grab a bottle at your favorite drug store or beauty store immediately.
Some heat protectants provide other benefits as well. Many brands of heat protectants serve multiple functions by including styling cream or a leave-in conditioner. There are heat protectants for all different hair textures, with each providing specialized benefits to ensure everyone can protect their hair from the damage of hot tools.
Does Heat Protectant Expire?
Many hair products are not required by law to include expiration dates on their products. So if you’re searching your heat protectant bottle for a date, you likely will not find one. A good rule of thumb for heat protectants and a lot of hair products is to dispose of them after 2 years.
After this amount of time, the benefits of the product will not be as effective and many ingredients in the product may go bad. Using expired or old products can result in damage to your hair. If the product includes expired chemicals, it can burn your strands or dry them out. Your expired product also may not provide any protection, resulting in heat damage from your heat tools.
How to Tell if Your Heat Protectant Has Gone Bad
Even without an expiration date, there are a few ways to tell if your product is past its prime. Here are a few key factors to determine the effectiveness of your product after an extended period of time:
If more than 2 years have gone by since opening your heat protectant, it has most likely gone bad. After an extended amount of time, the ingredients lose their ability to protect your hair. A good way to keep track of your product’s expiration is to label your bottle with the date of the day you open it.
Heat Protectant is usually clear as a spray or oil and white as a cream. If your protectant has taken on a strange or different color since opening, it has most likely gone bad. Throw it out and grab a new bottle.
Heat protectant should be smooth and consistent in texture, differing between a cream, liquid, or oil. If your protectant has become chunky or you notice the product has separated in the bottle, it is time to dispose of it.
Using Heat Protectant
There are many ways to use heat protectant to maximize its benefit to your hair. There are also ways it can be used incorrectly and in a way that does not protect your hair from heat.
How Often Should I Use Heat Protectant?
Heat protectant should be used every time you want to apply heat to your hair. It is important to apply it thoroughly throughout your hair. A good way to apply it is to start with a small amount in your hand and distribute it through your hair by combing it with your fingers, adding more product as needed.
Make sure you focus on the ends of your hair more so than the scalp since the ends are most susceptible to heat damage. I also like to brush or comb through my hair after applying the product to ensure even distribution.
Do You Put Heat Protectant On Wet Hair?
It is not recommended to apply heat protectant to soaking wet hair unless you are planning to go in with a hairdryer immediately after. Heat protectant works best when applied to damp or dry hair as your hair better absorbs the product and can protect against the heat more effectively.
Do You Let Heat Protectant Dry Before Straightening?
It is important to let your heat protectant dry before applying heat to your hair. Fortunately, this process only takes a few minutes and you can feel your hair periodically to tell if it is dry. This allows the products to fully soak into your hair.
If you start applying heat while your hair is still damp from the protectant, you may see smoke or steam coming off your hair, especially if you are using a straightener that sandwiches both sides of your hair in the heat. While this is just the product burning off and not your actual hair smoking, it can leave your hair unprotected if all of the product is burned off before you are done straightening your hair.
Can You Put Heat Protectant On the Night Before?
Some products provide protection from heat to your hair as well as other benefits such as moisture and anti-frizz aspects. Sometimes using these products on your hair overnight can really help your locks soak in all of the benefits.
However, if you choose to add heat protectant and sleep with it overnight, it will not be as effective in preventing heat damage. Again, heat protectant is meant to be used right before applying heat, and by the next morning, this benefit may be lacking in the product.
So if you choose to use a product overnight that includes heat protectant, remember to reapply again right before using any heat tool on your hair.
Is Heat Protectant Bad For Your Hair?
Quite the opposite! If you use a lot of heat on your hair, heat protectant is integral to keep your hair as healthy as possible. Not using heat protectant for consistent heat usage can result in dry, damaged, brittle hair and split ends.
Some heat protectants offer other benefits as well. Many oils, sprays, and creams that offer protection from the heat also offer components for anti-frizz, moisture, volume, and more. At the end of the day, using heat on your hair is never good for your hair, but a heat protectant is very helpful for preventing damage.
Best Heat Protectant for Your Hair
Hair protectant comes in many forms to best benefit your hair type. Here are some recommendations for the best protectant based on your hair insecurities.
Best Heat Protectant for Dry Hair
If you have dry hair, it’s best to get a heat protectant with a conditioning effect. My recommendation is the HSI Professional Argan Oil Heat Protector. Argan oil helps seal in moisture to replenish your hair. It also protects up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with heat tools.
Best Heat Protectant for Naturally Curly Hair
If you have thick, curly hair, a heat protectant cream may work best for you. I like to use the Olaplex No. 6 Bond Smoother before I go in with my straightener or curling wand. The formula is creamy but goes on light and blends through your hair seamlessly. It is great for hair that may take a few run-throughs to achieve a straightened look.
Best Heat Protectant for Colored Hair
If your hair is dyed or has damage from a dye job, opt for the Pureology Color Fanatic Leave-in Conditioner. This product is advertised as a leave-in, but has heat protectant benefits too, which makes it perfect for applying heat to color-treated hair.
Best Heat Protectant for Frizz Control
If you struggle with frizz throughout the day after styling with heat, you should look for a protectant with keratin or any anti-frizz promises. John Freida’s Frizz Ease 3-Day Flat Iron Spray is a fan favorite for protecting against frizz after straightening or styling.
While styling with heat is an easy way to make us feel chic and confident, it is always important to protect our locks. Remember to use heat protectant every time you apply heat to your hair. Also remember to dispose of it and replace your product once it goes bad, or reapply your product if you plan to go a while before adding heat. With these tips and tricks, it’ll be easy to have the most flawless and healthiest hair in the room.