Pro tips for hair straightening

Any woman with curly, wavy hair, flip even straight hair should know that to get hair super smooth, some heat styling is key. It is slightly unfair, but true. If you have pretty straight hair already, you likely only need the assistance of a blow dryer to get a sleek look, but if your hair has texture and is thick or course, you'll need the almighty flat iron to achieve stick straight strands.

So, have you been at war with your flat iron and just can’t seem to figure out why your hair is not coming out straight? Have you heard about urban legends in the beauty world? These are specific hair care myths and stories that get passed from woman to woman, generation to generation.

Follow these hair care tips to achieve perfectly smooth, straight, shiny hair every time you flat iron your hair and fear not, with the right hair care preparation, straightening tips, and responsible use, you don't have to fry your hair for it to look fabulous

a woman with very straight hair

Tip 1: Pick the right size flat iron!
Flat irons are like clothes, they are not one-size fits all. The length and thickness of your hair should determine the size of your iron. The right size iron will be easier to manoeuvre, straighten your hair more efficiently and decrease the risk of overheating and damaging hair.

For short, thick or fine hair: Use an iron with narrow plates ranging in size from 15mm  to 25mm thick. This will allow you to iron smaller sections.

For long, thick or fine hair: Use an iron with wider plates ranging in size from 40mm to 50mm wide so you're able to cover more surface area in less time.

Be aware of the weight of your iron. Anything super heavy (more than two kilos) will have your arm hurting in no time. Straightening hair shouldn't be equivalent to weight lifting.

Tip 2: Select the right temperature setting!
Your hair texture and type should determine your heat setting. Most professionals use an iron with variable heat settings, but a shop iron (if you are on a tight budget) will work on some hair types as they are set to a "higher, workable temperature" and if the "density of your hair is average, than you should be OK. If you do have the ability to buy an iron with a variable heat setting, then do so. The more your iron caters to your specific hair needs, the less likely you will be to damage your hair.

The temperatures are as follows:
For fine or damaged hair: 250-300 degrees
For medium/average hair: 300-350 degrees
For thick or coarse hair: 350-400 degrees

Tip 3: Use the right material!
Look for flat irons that use ceramic, tourmaline or titanium metals. They will heat more evenly causing less heat damage to your hair. They are the gentlest on the hair because they release negative ions which work to tighten the hair's cuticle. This produces a shinier, healthier, less frizzy look and feel. On the flip side, be weary of irons that are ceramic 'coated' or Teflon 'coated" as they will heat a little more unevenly, and tend to have a more drying effect.

Tip 4: Preparation.
Once you've found the best iron for your hair, the next crucial step to straightening your strands like a pro is preparing your hair for the heat it's about to undergo. Here's how:

Preparation for fine hair: Wash hair with a lightweight volumizing shampoo and conditioner. Once out of the shower use a volumizing mousse with built-in heat protection. Blow dry hair to create volume by lifting at the roots. Smooth hair from the mid-shaft to your ends using tension and a natural bristle brush.

Preparation for thick / course hair: Start by washing with a smoothing shampoo and conditioner. Once out of the shower, apply a smoothing serum with heat protection technology. Blow dry hair thoroughly with a natural bristle brush and apply tension as you dry hair in order to make it as straight as possible.

Tip 5: Get a super straight look!
Follow these steps to get a super straight and polished look:
Step 1: Start by clipping your blow dried hair into manageable sections. The thicker your hair, the more sections you should create. Starting on the bottom half of your head, near the nape of your neck, grab about 30mm to 50 millimetres of hair.
Step 2: Starting about 15mm down from your roots (this will help your hair maintain some volume), quickly smooth the iron down the hair shaft making sure to move at a steady pace. Continue this until you have straightened the bottom and mid-sections of your head.
Step 3: For the final sections near the crown of your head, lift hair off your scalp and get the iron as close to your roots as possible, pressing firmly while drawing the iron straight outward from your head to achieve a flat, smooth finish.
Step 4: Mist your hair with shine spray.

Tip 6: Get a voluminous straight look!
For a fuller, more voluminous look you will want to hold the iron a bit differently. Iron from the mid-shaft to ends, still moving the iron straight out to the sides, lifting from the scalp. Do not drag the iron down when working because it tends to put creases in the hair if you are going against the growth pattern. For added flip, twist your wrist slightly away from your face once you've reached the end of a straightened section for a bit of bounce. Mist your hairstyle with a shine spray or flexible hold hairspray.

Tip 7: Things to avoid!
Do not iron hair when wet, this fries your strands.

Do not use broken or chipped hot tools, as they can be dangerous.

Do not use a flat iron every day. Any tool or procedure involving high heat will dry the hair and make it brittle over time, especially with prolonged and frequent use.

Tip 8: Clean your iron!
After every use you should always clean your hot tools with an iron cleaner or lukewarm water and a cloth when the iron is cooled off.

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