In a committed relationship with your hot tools? We get it! From triple-barrel wavers to self-twirlers and beyond, it would take an “iron” will to resist the latest gadgets that make getting glam totally effortless.

But with lots of blow drying, flat ironing and hair curling comes (yup, you guessed it) lots of heat damaged hair. Lucky for you and your hair, there’s a simple solution that'll tell you how to protect hair from heat damage without giving up your hot tools.

Enter: heat protectants! Long known as a must-have when heat styling, thermal protectants provide the first line-of-defense for your hair against extreme heat. Without them, your hair would fall prey to  dehydration, breakage, color fade and much much more.

Which has us wondering… 

  • What is heat damaged hair?
  • What does heat damaged hair look like? 
  • Just how badly does heat damage hair?
  • How much heat styling can our hair withstand?
  • Do heat protectants for hair work? 
  • Are heat protectants good for hair?
  • What are the best heat protectants to keep hair strong, healthy and hydrated? (Because we are definitely not giving up our blow dryer, wands, and irons any time soon!!)

We took our burning questions to Color Wow Chief Chemist, Dr. Joe Cincotta, Ph.D., for his cool-headed thoughts on this very hot topic. 



Heat-damaged hair is hair that becomes extremely dehydrated, fragile, rigid, dull and all-around unhealthy due to frequent heat styling.

“Excessive and repeated exposure to heat (e.g. blow drying and heat styling) can cause physical and chemical changes in hair,” Dr. Joe explains. “This is true for all types of hair, but especially true for hair that is chemically treated by coloring, highlighting, relaxing, or permanent waving, which is especially vulnerable."


Just how badly does heat damage hair? And how much heat styling can our hair withstand? According to Dr. Joe, there are five tell-tale signs of heat damaged hair:

#1 Dry, dehydrated strands

Heat styling breaks down your hair’s protective natural moisture barrier and causes the cuticle to become raised and coarse. This allows essential moisture to easily leach out. Routine wetting and blow drying of your hair can also cause cracks in your hair’s surface from rapid dehydration. 

The result? Hair that’s super porous so it can’t retain essential moisture. Which then leads to brittleness, loss in elasticity, and vulnerability to chemical processes.

#2 Breakage

Repeated application of heat (>212°F / 100°C) degrades your hair’s internal protein structure that’s responsible for keeping your hair strong. Over time, this continual weakening will result in breakage and damage.

#3 Split Ends

With repeated heat styling (which cracks the cuticle) and repeated combing, hair’s protective cuticle scale layers are removed - which causes split ends… one of the most frustrating and common types of hair damage women deal with.

#4 Flyaways

Blowdrying hair significantly increases its tendency to acquire static charge, resulting in “flyaways.”

#5 Loss of elasticity

Heating hair above 230°F / 110°C produces changes in your hair’s ability to bind (aka, hold) moisture. This makes hair appear stiff and less elastic. Combing or brushing at this point can cause breakage and split hairs.


In lieu of giving up heat styling (because we all know that’s NOT happening), your next best bet is using heat protectants when it comes to protecting hair from heat damage.

But do heat protectants for hair work? And how do you know what to look for to ensure maximum protection?

Dr. Joe shares three essential ways a heat protectant can protect your hair from heat:

1. Hydrating – With hydrating agents that grab and hold water to protect hair’s core protein

2. Heat Absorbing – With emollients that absorb heat and block direct contact between heat and hair

3. Heat Deflecting – With polymers that repel heat away from hair to minimize damage

The *best* heat protectants are the ones that include one or more of the three essential properties mentioned above (hydrating, heat absorbing, heat deflecting).

Do Color Wow products have heat protectant properties?

In formulating our products for the needs of fragile, color-treated hair, Dr. Joe included one or more of these critical heat-protecting properties in almost every product. Because why make heat protection a single-use product when you can protect PLUS treat or style in a single step??

Dr. Joe explains: “At Color Wow, we know more women than ever have color-treated hair. And, we know more of them are using more heat styling tools, more often. So with every product* we make, we make sure we include heat protecting ingredients."

With Color Wow heat protectants, we don’t use just one heat protectant and spread it over the entire line. Each formula has its own unique heat protectant ingredient or combination of ingredients. Therefore, if you use 2-4 products combined, you’re getting a multitude of various heat-protecting ingredients deposited on your hair for optimum protection.


Here is a breakdown of all Color Wow products with heat protection:

Heat protectant moisturizers

Heat protectant leave-ins

Heat protectant cream

Heat protectant serum

Heat protectant hairspray

Heat protectant sprays

Heat protectant foams

Heat protectants for curls

And this chart offers even more information around the different properties our heat protectants possess:

As we wrap up, it's clear that while heat tools can be our best friends for achieving that perfect look, they can also be our hair's worst enemy over time. Consistent heat exposure can lead to some not-so-great results, like brittle strands and those dreaded split ends. The key? Moderation and protection. Using heat protectants and giving your hair a break every now and then can make all the difference. 


Check out our heat protectant collection pages below to find the product that works best for your hair type: