The #1 Hair Mistake We're All Making, According to Stylists

We know how it is. You’ve already taken hours washing and conditioning your hair. Perhaps you’ve even sprung for a pre-wash treatment like a hot oil or maybe the Olaplex No. 3. Your hair is in tip-top condition and has already got ample product in it. Do you really need to apply another before you heat-style

The short answer is yes. Using a heat protector single-handedly keeps hair safe under the soaring temperatures of your hair dryers, straighteners, curlers and wands. The number of my friends who admit that they’ll often go in on their strands without any heat protection is baffling to me. It’s futile putting all that effort into keeping your hair healthy with conditioners and treatments and then using 180-degree heat on it without a shield. It’s like taking a dish out of a hot oven without mitts on—you’re going to get burnt. 

"Heat protectants act as a barrier between the heat of the styling tool and your hair. It forms a layer of protection on the outer layer of your hair, minimising the damage that excessive heat can cause,” says Wella craft expert Jordanna Cobella. "In addition to this, heat protection also seals the cuticle layer of your hair, locking in the natural moisture, and smooths the surface for added shine.”


(Image credit: @keeksreid)

If you have coloured or bleached hair, like I do, it’s even more crucial to get protecting. As Cobella says, "Excessive heat can cause colour fade or irreversible damage to the structure of your hair shaft. Colour molecules only remain in the hair if the cuticle layer is present to keep the molecules in. In some cases, if the cuticle layer is compromised, colour molecules will slip away, resulting in colour fade.”


(Image credit: @keeksreid)

I tend to use a cream or spray protector for the initial part of my styling post-wash. So while my hair is damp, I’ll apply it in sections and dry it a bit at a time. Then when my hair is completely dry, I’ll apply a styling serum/oil hybrid like the L’Oréal Professionnel Serie Expert Absolut Repair 10 in 1 Leave In Oil, as it gives further protection, and my hair feels silky smooth after using it. I’ve found this extra step especially important now my hair is bleached.

Good news, though: If you restyle between washes, you don’t need to reapply. "If you use a professional heat-protection spray such as Wella Professionals EIMI Thermal Heat Protection Spray and your styling tool does not exceed the temperature of 185ºC, your hair will be protected from heat damage until the next wash,” says Cobella. "However, it is important to note that excessive heat past 185ºC can cause irreversible damage to the internal structure of the hair, which heat protection cannot guard against.”

Through my adventures in heat-styling my hair, I have tried hundreds of heat protectors, and these are by far the best on the market.