How to Protect Your Hair from Heat Damage

Hollie Shirley / Hair & Skincare Editor

Read our 5 handy tips on how to protect your hair from heat damage. These tips will help you rock straight hair and other heat styles you have been craving, while protecting your hair from heat damage. 

We know that sometimes you get bored with the routine heat-free hairdos available to your natural hair and that you want to switch things up a little. We wouldn’t pretend that we don’t know your fears about having your hair damaged by heat. Worry no more! 

Does heat protectant work?

Yes, heat protectants work to reduce the amount of heat damage hot tools such as blowdriers, straighteners and curlers can cause. They do not eliminate the risk of damage completely and the efficiency of the heat protectant you use will depend on the quality of the product. Because heat protectant minimises but does not eliminate damage completely, only using heat a couple of times a month maximum is a good idea.

What does heat protectant do?

When you add heat protectant to your hair, a barrier is created to seal in moisture and smooth down your cuticles. this barrier is what minimises damage that can come from heat when styling your hair.

Can you use heat protectant on dry hair?

Heat protectant can be used on damp or dry hair. It’s a good idea to comb the product through your hair after applying to ensure an even coat. Always follow the instructions on the bottle to know the best way to use that specific product. Here’s our step by step guide on how to protectyour hair from heat:


1. Always moisturize and deep condition your hair beforehand. 

Before you get those hot tools working their magic on your hair, you must first wash your hair as you would normally do and deep-condition it, letting the conditioner sit for the number of minutes prescribed on the bottle. This will help smoothen and strengthen your hair while making it easier to straighten.  Finish up by gently drying your hair as much as possible with a microfiber towel or a t-shirt before applying a leave-in conditioner.

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2. Allow your hair to air-dry for some time. 

Depending on your hair type, allow your hair to get 50 to 70% dry on its own. Damp hair fares very badly with heat. There are some excellent leave-in treatments available which will help your hair to air dry naturally.

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3. Apply heat protectants formulated for natural hair. 

Evenly coat your hair with a heat protectant. This will help to seal in moisture and protect your hair from heat damage.  Heat protectants come in serum, spray or creams. 

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4. Blow dry your hair. 

Blow drying your hair first will straighten your hair. It will also help prevent knotting and tangling of your hair ends, and subsequently, mitigate hair breakage. 

Remember to attach a nozzle to your blow dryer to avoid overheating your hair. Point the nozzle downwards and about 15 to 25cm away from your hair, and work in sections to ensure each part is dried fully.

Medium to high setting at the start while finishing with a cool setting is ideal for protecting your cuticles.



5. Reapply a heat protectant before heat styling. 

Reapplying a heat protectant after blow drying and before heat styling your hair as you desire is the surest way to ensure that your hair doesn’t get damaged by the heat.

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Other tips to observe for the best hair protection techniques against heat are: 

  • Do not heat-style your hair regularly. A few times a month is fine and very occasional use of heat is ideal. 
  • Ensure the salon and/or stylists know how to handle natural hair especially as it concerns heat-styling. Make sure you also know the right heat setting for your unique hair type. 
  • Use titanium or ceramic flat irons that have an adjustable temperature. Adjustable temperature dials are better for heat control compared to regular on-off and/or high-low switches. 
  • Look out for 1800 watts ionic hair dryers. These dry your hair faster and avert overheating which can cause hair damage. 
  • Move your heat tools through your hair throughout the styling process to avoid overheating portions of your hair. 
  • Keep your heat tools clean and in good working condition, always. 

How to save heat damaged hair?

It can happen to the most careful of us – heat damaged hair! If you find your hair has started showing signs of heat damage try the following to get your hair back on track to shining health:

  • Give your hair a break. Try not to use any heat fr a while, including hot water, which can cause additional hat damage
  • Deep condition. Conditioning can add back some of the moisture lost from the heat styling
  • Use a bond repair treatment. Products such as Olaplex Intensive Bond Building or Joico Reconstructor can help repair some of the damage left from heat
  • Give your hair a cut or trim. Try and trim off any split ends which will help make your hair look healthier.

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Hollie Shirley
Hair & Skincare Editor

Hollie Shirley is SILKUP’s hair and skincare editor. She’s obsessed with all things hair care and results-driven skincare, that is kind to the environment and your wallet. She has a weakness for limited edition eyeshadows and is always testing out the newest and greatest deep conditioners. Hollie has a passion for hair and is studying Trichology, working towards becoming a Member of the Association of Registered Trichologists.