Whether you have curly, wavy, and frizzy hair or you are just looking to give your strands a sleeker and more polished look, a flat iron is an ultimate lifesaver. Even though you may think that every teenager knows how to use a hair straightener, it’s not as straightforward as it seems. There are a few things you need to consider when using a flat iron to make sure you achieve the best-looking results whilst your hair stays happy and healthy.
1. Always Use a Flat Iron Only on Dry Hair
Never (ever!) use any hot tools including the flat iron on wet or even slightly damp hair. Doing this would literally burn your hair and cause severe damage to it. While it’s tempting to save some time and skip the blow dry, it’s totally not worth the risk. Furthermore, you would run the danger of experiencing electric shock if you would be using electric tools on wet hair.
2. Iron Fresh Hair
Your best hairstyling routine would consist of washing, blow drying, and then straightening your hair with a flat iron. We totally appreciate that this may seem too time-consuming and unrealistic on a busy morning before work. In this case, you may wish to wash your hair the night before and let it air dry – it would save a few precious minutes of sleep in the morning.
However, it’s essential to use straighteners only on clean hair. Dirt, sebum (the natural oils produced by your scalp), dry shampoo, and any other products create build-up on the surface of your hair. That would inevitably weigh it down and all your efforts to style it will be futile.
3. Don’t Apply Hair Oils Before Straightening
Seemingly innocent, oils can incur more damage than protection if used directly before straightening your hair. Just like water, oil can quickly heat up to a very high temperature and literally fry your hair between the plates of the flat iron.
What if your oil product says that it provides heat protection?
In this case, like with other heat protectant products, you must make sure to apply it in a fine layer and only start ironing when the oil is fully absorbed, and your hair is totally dry. However, natural oils like coconut should be used solely after hot tools.
4. Choose the Temperature Wisely
Do you happen to feel guilty for overexposing your hair to too much heat? The good news is – you don’t need a very high temperature to straighten your hair. In fact, even 300 degrees is enough if you have fine hair, and you certainly should never exceed 340 degrees.
5. Use Good Quality Tools
Here are some things to consider when choosing the right hair straightener. First, as you may know from the previous tip, your straightener must have temperature settings. Second, look for ceramic flat iron plates – this is the most modern material that helps to glide easily and get that sought after sleek and shiny finish. Finally, sound quality straighteners heat evenly throughout the whole surface of the plates. This can potentially reduce the number of times you need to run through the same strand and eventually avoid unnecessary damage.
Even though more advanced flat irons can be pricy, it’s worth making the investment for the sake of the health of your own hair. Besides that, saving experts suggest calculating the real value of products by dividing the price by the number of times you are going to use them. Eventually, a flat iron produced by a reputable brand that will perform its task for many years to come may have a much lower cost per use than cheaper high street straighteners.
6. Use Heat Protecting Products
A heat protectant is like a shield against the negative effect of high temperatures. Spray it evenly all over your hair, brush it through, and make sure your hair is fully dry before ironing.
Here are some of our favorite choices:
- Olaplex No.9 Bond Protector Nourishing Hair Serum – a weightless leave-in hair serum that provides protection up to 450 degrees (but please be reasonable choosing the temperature)
- Moroccanoil Protect & Prevent Spray is another great heat protecting product that also provides excellent shine and protection against UV rays.
- For that all-natural kind of girls, we recommend Amika Blockade Heat Defense Serum – a lightweight product that smooths, moisturizes and protects hair during heat styling.
7. Work in Small Sections
Ironing finer sections will allow you to achieve a smoother and straighter finish. Section a half an inch section, carefully brush it through and move in slow and careful motion.
It’s not worth trying to straighten a thick chunk of hair as it will never get smooth and straight. As a result, you will end up running through the same strand multiple times and overheating the outer sides of the section whilst leaving the inside of it not hot enough to get into the required shape.
For the best results, use one or two sectioning clips (or your regular claw clip) to keep part of the hair away, so it doesn’t mix with the strand you are working on.
8. Keep Hair Moisturized and Nourished
Healthy hair condition must always come first. Applying high heat always puts a strain on your strands, so it’s especially important to make sure your hair is well conditioned and moisturized. Use no SLS shampoo and a mask suitable for your hair type.
9. Don’t Flat Iron Too Often
No matter how gorgeous freshly styled hair looks, you should definitely keep flat ironing to a minimum. This particularly applies to those with natural black hair as well as fine and frizzy locks. Think about the modern alternative of embracing your natural curls, for example, implementing the Curly Girl Method into your hair care routine.
We are not saying you need to ditch straighteners completely, but we encourage you to stick with healthy 1-2 uses a month.
10. Help Your Hairstyle Last Longer
When you straighten your hair, you need to make the most out of it and try to preserve its shape up until the next wash. Here are some tips on how to do it:
- Always have an umbrella in your bag. Rain is the most brutal hairstyle killer, so you need to protect your mane if it happens;
- Use some finishing spray to lock the style in place;
- Sleep on a silk pillowcase – those are great to eliminate tension and keep your hair silky and smooth;
- Try to schedule your most intensive workouts to the other days when your hair doesn’t have to be perfect.
We hope this guide will help to optimize your hair straightening process and keep your locks in the best shape!