This Is The Best Hair Oil To Use Before You Blow-Dry, Top Stylists Say
A "healthy heat style" is somewhat of an oxymoron. Heat harms your hair, unfortunately, so the "healthiest" styling option will always be an air-dry, if you can swing it. But sometimes, you just crave a bouncy, salon-quality blowout or defined ringlets only a curling wand can offer—and that's OK! Just be as kind to the strands as you can by keeping them hydrated and coating them in heat protectant before you even think about picking up that hot tool.
We have a handy list of heat protectants here, but on a basic level, a true winner will coat the hair with nutrients to help buffer the heat and simultaneously infuse the strands with moisture. Oils, by nature, contain antioxidants and fatty acids that protect and mend dry strands—so they make for a great glossy treatment pre-blow-dry, right?
Well, not exactly. "If you put oils in your hair then go to use a super-hot flatiron, bam, all of a sudden you're making breakfast. You're literally cooking your hair," hairstylist Clay Nielson previously shared with mbg. However, a few superior oils won't burn up, assuming you go easy on the heat setting—argan oil, for example, can take the heat.
Why argan oil is great before blowouts.
Some oils have higher smoke points than others, which means they can get away with higher burn temperatures (similar to how you might stick to certain oils in cooking). Olive oil, for example, has a smoke point of 325 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat these oils beyond their smoke points, and they will not only start to "fry" your hair but also oxidize and release free radicals—and you don't want those on top of your strands.
Argan oil has a smoke point of 420 degrees Fahrenheit, so assuming you set your hot tool to below that temperature, you'll be all set. Plus, the oil is rich in hair-healing actives: Studies show that 99% of argan oil is made up of essential fatty acids1—namely, oleic and linoleic fatty acids—which coat the strands and prevent the outer layer (or cuticle) from lifting. And for that remaining 1%? A powerful blend of botanical compounds, such as hydrating vitamin E.
"It's great for many [hair concerns], especially dry hair because its trove of fatty acids lock moisture into the hair follicle," Bindiya Gandhi, M.D., an American Board Family Medicine physician and mbg Collective member, tells mbg about argan oil for hair. "I use it on the ends of my hair to protect from heat styling."
Not to mention, argan oil is super lightweight and absorbs rather quickly, so it won't weigh down your strands or make them look greasy. "I simply apply it as a leave-in treatment before and after a blowout for a clean, polished look with silky, smooth ends," says hairstylist Lucia Casazza.
Of course, a stellar heat protectant is only half the battle; your heat-styling habits matter just as much when it comes to supporting healthy, thriving strands: First, it's important not to crank up your tool to blowtorch-level heat. "It depends on the texture and density of the hair, as well as if it's chemically treated, but I strongly urge to never go above 400 degrees Fahrenheit," says hairstylist Sal Misseri. (Great news for argan oil fans, as this temperature ceiling means you won't ever get close to the oil's smoke point.)
You can also rely on smart hot tools to automatically shift the heat—Dyson's Supersonic™ hairdryer, for example, uses intelligent heat control to measure temperature over 40 times a second to prevent any sizzling (it's a pricey tool, but it's 100% worth the hype). From there, make sure not to blast any specific area for too long, especially near the hairline where the strands are most prone to breakage.
And if you'd rather stick to an air-dry or wash-and-go, that's just fine, too—on that note, argan oil makes a fabulous conditioning hair mask.
To prep your hair for an at-home blowout, applying heat protectant is nonnegotiable. Products specifically formulated for heat styling are your best bet, but if you do use natural hair oils, just remember to stick to ones with high smoke points, like the almighty argan oil.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and more. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.