Wondering how to create perfectly sleek, straight, stylish locks at home? We cover step by step how to use a hair straightener.
Having used a hair straightener for many years, I have perfected the art of creating sleek and straight styles. For those wanting to achieve straight hair at home, using a flat iron isn’t always intuitive. With this in mind, I explain the simple steps for you to achieve a salon-like straight mane. You might be surprised to learn that, upon reading this guide, you have been missing out on some important steps to styling your mane with a flat iron
Below, I have also included a helpful buying guide for those in the market for a great flat iron. It covers what to look for when buying a hair straightener — size, material, and more importantly, the features that they have.
In this guide, you will learn the following:
- What to Look for in a Good Hair Straightener
- How to Use a Flat Iron – Step by Step
- Hair Straightening Tips & Tricks
The information that you will find here is based on experience and research because we want you to have all the details you will need in your journey of using flat irons for your hair. After all, there are those who are just starting out on using a flat iron who needs a bit of guidance too. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get started!
What to Look for in a Good Hair Straightener
Most flat irons that you will come across are made from ceramic, tourmaline, and titanium. There are some that combine one or all of these materials and then some during manufacturing to make the plates deliver the best results. But to make the best decision, you need to know the value of each material for your hair. Each one has its own key feature that makes them appropriate for certain types of hair. Here’s what you need to know:
Aside from being resistant to corrosion, it has a lower thermal conductivity compared to metal. Look for one that has the plates covered with several layers of ceramic as this will help prevent your hair strands from getting snagged, burnt, and even broken when you heat them up with the plates. This is one of the best materials to use on different hair types because it generates heat evenly so as not to burn your strands. There are no hotspots to worry about where your mane gets more heat compared to the other. That said, if you are looking for a versatile flat iron, then this one comes highly recommended.
A titanium flat iron also works for most hair types and can easily heat up the plates too. As a matter of fact, it will only take up around 30 seconds for the plates to reach the highest temperature which reduces your waiting time considerably. Although this works well for those who are in a rush in the morning, this may be a bit tricky for those with fragile hair since if you will compare the same temperature on a titanium straightener and one made from ceramic, you will get more heat from the former. Although it is said that titanium can be used on all hair types, you still need to exercise caution when you have fine or dry mane as the high heat can damage your strands. If you have thick long hair, this is a good option for you. The same goes true when you have curly hair. You can opt for gold plated flat irons or one that is made from titanium to help iron your curly locks.
Flat irons with plates made from tourmaline are somewhat the same as ceramic with its density as well as having a fine surface. The difference lies in the plates generating more negative ions that are actually useful for those who have damaged or unnatural strands. Getting a straightening tool that is made from tourmaline and ceramic helps your hair considerably because it uses the best of these two materials in one.
You should also factor in the size of the plates when you want to use a flat iron for your mane. The smallest one in the market is 1/2″ which works perfectly for those who have short hair. The 1″ plate size is suitable for all hair types as it has the right width to clamp down on each section of your mane. Since this is considered to be the average size, it has become a versatile option for different kinds of hair. The 1″ plates are best suited for those who have normal to a bit wavy hair that is of medium length. This makes it easier for you to straighten or even create loose waves with it in a precise manner.
Then there are the 1.5″ plates which are recommended for those who have thick long hair or if you want to speed up the styling process. Since the plates are wider, it will be able to close down on more hair strands so you don’t have to spend a lot of time ironing your mane. Another plus to choosing this size is that the width gives a good grip on your hair thus cutting back the time it takes to achieve your desired results.
Technology & Features
You should also take a closer look at the technology and features that a straightening product has to offer such as:
- Advanced Technology
- Auto shutoff
- Even heat distribution
- Temperature control
- LCD or LED display
- Long cord
- Dual voltage
Your Straightening Tool Kit: What You Need Before Straightening
- A Good Straightener — Make sure that you choose a good straightener that is appropriate for the type of hair that you have.
- A Hair Dryer — You may need to use a hair dryer if you have wet or damp strands and the flat iron you are using is not designed for straightening damp or wet locks.
- Tooth Comb — If you have fine hair, using a tooth comb may help you with sectioning your hair before straightening it.
- Large Clips — Clipping your hair can help you section your hair better.
- Heat Protection Spray — Applying protection spray on strands can add a layer of protection against the heat from the plates.
- A Brush or Hair Straightener Brush — This can help style your strands when you straighten your hair.
How to Use a Flat Iron – Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1. Prep the Hair
1. Wash the hair with a smoothing shampoo and conditioner
The first thing that you need to do before you straighten your hair is to wash it first with shampoo and conditioner to remove any impurities and to reduce tangles too.
2. Towel dry hair.
- Remove any excess water from the hair, as water and high temperature can harm your strands.
- Never straighten directly onto wet hair! Exposing your wet strands to high temperatures can affect them negatively.
- If you hear a sizzle or see steam when straightening, then the hair is not properly dried. There are some flat irons that can work on damp strands but this should be at least 90% dried as much as possible to minimize hair damage.
3. Apply a Thermal Heat Protection Spray
- Especially if you have colored or dry hair, applying a protecting spray can minimize damage.
- Start by applying at the ends and work up to the root. Spray the heat protectant an inch away from your mane. Make sure that you coat each section of your mane with this product as it helps minimize the damage that your strands sustain because of the heat.
4. Comb through hair with a wide toothed comb
This can help remove the tangles on your mane which can prevent snagging your strands when ironing it out.
5. Rough dry the hair with a blow dryer
- Until it is 80% dry. Remember, do not use your flat iron on wet hair as this will affect the condition of your locks.
Step 2. Section the Hair
Divide the hair into sections
- Start from the bottom section of hair
- Take your thumbs and gather the hair from just above the ear
- Clip the top section up
You can divide the bottom section of your hair further to ensure that you got all of them straightened out evenly.
Step 3. Straighten the Hair
Depending on hair length and thickness of the hair it can take 15 – 20 minutes to straighten.
1. Set the temperature of the iron
- This can depend on the length and texture of the hair.
- Those with long, thick or curly hair can opt for high-heat.
- Those with extremely fine, thin or damaged hair should consider even lower temperatures
- Some straighteners can go up to 450-degrees. This setting might be too extreme for most hair types and was designed for in-salon use.
- A safe straightening temperature is 300 to 350 degrees.
2. Start an inch from the root and pull the iron downwards to the ends, holding the hair taut. Be careful to not burn yourself!
- Straighten hair in small sections.
- Tip: the smaller the section, the easier it is to straighten. The bigger the section of hair, the more times you will need to go over that section
- Tip: Don’t hold the straightener in one spot for too long. This will create kinks or dents in the hair.
3. Repeat the process, continuing the straighten in small sections
4. When working with the back part of the hair, take the piece of hair close to the scalp and pull the iron up vertically to ensure no kinks near the root.
To create volume at the back of the hair cross a small section of hair over the opposite side of the head to straighten
Step 4. Finishing
1. Take a dime-sized amount of hair oil – warm up the product in your hands
- Work into the hair starting from the bottom
- Avoid applying to the root as it can make your hair appear greasy
2. Lighthold hairspray
Now that you know how to straighten your hair the right way, you should learn a thing or two about the best tips and tricks to get the best results for your mane.
Hair Straightening Tips & Tricks
- For beginners – use a glove while you get used to the hot tool. You can buy a flat iron that comes with a heat protectant glove so you won’t burn your fingers.
- Work in sections. This makes it easier for you to straighten your entire mane correctly.
- When straightening hair, start from the back and work forward.
- The slower you go with the iron the better the results. This is to ensure that each section of your mane receives the right amount of heat to iron out any kinks or waves present.
Hair straightening with a flat iron may sound easy-peasy for many, but there is room for error especially by those who are just starting out with this hot styling tool. There is more to using a flat iron than meets the eye. There are factors to take note of such as materials, plate size, temperature, and even your hair type too. That said, we hope that the guide mentioned above may help you with straightening your hair regardless of whether it is fine, thick, or coarse even.
Leah WilliamsLeah Williams is the founder of Lucky Curl and has been in the hair care and styling industry for the last 15 years. Since then, she has developed incredible expertise and a deep understanding of how to treat and style the most difficult hair types and is passionate about sharing her knowledge with the readers of Lucky Curl.
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