When it comes to gorgeous hair arguably the most desired look is long, sleek, shiny and perfectly straight hair. It’s pure and simple style that always manages to look chic along with anything from a little black dress to your lazy Sunday sweats.
Like most girls I love my monthly hairdresser appointment, a touch of color along with straightening. As all of you know there seems there’s no other point in that month my hair looks better. After only a few days though the frizz begins to return, my waves come back and the shine starts to fade away…
Fortunately my hair straightener keeps my in-between-hairdresser appointments a little more bearable. Don’t you just love your hair straightener? It’s the only beauty tool that stays on top of my dresser. However over the years I’ve realized I’ve been doing a lot of my routine incorrectly!
So after some conversations with beauty professionals I have compiled a list of the most common mistakes we make with our beloved flat irons and perfect the technique after implementing these into my own routine, my hair is straighter longer, no longer frizzes so damn quickly and has even shaved precious minutes off the whole shabang, so I can snooze in just a little longer ;-). Read on to see if you can too…
1. You’re not properly preparing your hair
Your straightening routine is not beginning in the shower. For those of you who know me, I have tried tons of shampoos, conditioners are various other products to straighten my hair only to learn one thing – they do not work on their own and never will. For my particularly frizzy, thick hair I begin my straightening routine in the shower with a keratin shampoo.
Keratin is a protein which naturally exists in hair, it helps to protect against the heating of the flat iron and generally smooths it out. Other shampoos labeled with ‘smoothing’ may be able to help prepare the strands with moisture.
Rinse your hair gently, if you go nuts with the towel you will only enhance your natural curls. After rinsing, just pat your hair down gently, running your hair through the towel. Your aim should be about 80% dry throughout. At this point you might want apply a thermal protectant, then just let it air dry.
2. Your hair is not dry enough
Speaking of blowdrying, watch your blowdryer direction. Your hairdryer may be causing the most damage to your hair. To achieve the sleek finish, always keep the nozzle facing downwards.
Many have looked for wet-to-dry [W2D] hair straighteners and whilst I have had no experience with these personally, from everything I have learned about using a flat iron, I don’t see how wet-to-dry straighteners can be either safe or effective. The ones I have researched say they only work if your hair is about 90% dry anyway, so why bother?! If you have used W2D straighteners, please let me know your experiences in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
If you use a brush, use a boar bristle brush not plastic brushes as they cause static and hence more frizz!
3. Its your precious hair, not your breakfast…
Whatever you do, don’t fry your hair. If you see steam or hear frizzle then immediately stop and assess the situation. The most common issue here is your hair your hair needs to be completely bone dry before straightening. If you hair is dry then it could be product build up on your flat iron, check the plates are completely clean you can use something like this iron cleaner from HSI.
You should avoid applying anything to dry hair which is what makes straightening different than curling. Because the iron clamps down on the hair, there’s nowhere for the product to go. You’re pretty much boiling the product into the follicle, which isn’t a great idea, especially if it contains alcohol.
That 450 F setting on your flat iron was specifically added for professional stylists to straighten after performing a deep keratin treatment. This is waaayyy too hot for home use, did you know your hair burns at the same temperature as paper? That’s 451 F (233 C)! No matter how unmanageable your hair is, you should keep this setting safe at 400 F max, MAX!
With correct preparation (shower, correct blowdryer use etc) and technique, 400 F is plenty and will ensure you don’t do damage to your hair. Not hot enough then you’ll be taking a longer time with too many strokes to get your hair straight.
4. You’re not sectioning your hair
Always section your hair, what I do is, brush the section first then follow right away with the flat iron. Keep it going, when you stop and start it’s far too easy to miss sections or even worse, overdo sections. Carefully select, brush, then straighten each section remember to not pull your hair as you go along just gentle strokes if you feel your hair pulling you’re clamping too tight or going too fast – this can be really easy to do when you’re in a hurry! Make sure you run your fingers through the section of hair, pulling gently down then following through with your iron right from the root.
5. You’re not using a thermal protectant
OK, so you don’t want the hair to sizzle. In addition to keeping the temperature at an appropriate level, a thermal protectant such as these. Apply to hair when damp, then air dry before using your hair straightener.
6. Your iron is from the dark ages
Yep, you heard it right. You could be doing all of the above correctly and still not getting the desired result. You may find that your straightening routine is taking longer and longer, and by the time you’ve finished your arms feel like you’ve just had a kettle-ball routine down the gym.
Both cheaper and older hair straighteners take longer and longer to return to the optimum temperature. Some older and cheaper irons take up to 90 seconds to return to the temp you’ve set.
With each stroke your iron cools down a little, then needs to heat back up again before the next stroke, so you either need to wait or just keep moving so that each hair section is not straightening at the best temperature for your hair type. Many flat iron models now show their ‘recovery time’ listed in the product features page, the shorter the better.
Alot has changed with flat iron technology. The plate material is very important, for example tourmaline is a crystal boron silicate mineral which is either coated on or baked into the plates. This stuff emits negative ions which help to counteract the positive ions in damaged hair. Even if your hair is undamaged, tourmaline helps to keep existing moisture in the strands.
For curly hair look for gold or titanium. Some brands even have ceramic/titanium blends which also has tourmaline baked in, an excellent combination.
7. Your iron is just too wide
When it comes to size, you should never need to go above 1½ inches. Thicker irons can help styling and allowing for wider sectioning however the wider the iron the more difficult it is to reach the root properly and for that lavish pure straight look, the iron needs to be right from root to tips.
8. You don’t use a brush
Before you take to each section with heat, brush out the hair to prepare each section, this not only takes care of any knots, but perfectly separates strands ready for the heat. This you won’t need to go back over each section as many times.
9. You don’t let your hair cool
Heat is naturally great at doing the styling work, however don’t for get that cool sets it. So let your hear cool before putting it in a ponytail or a clip after straightening it.
10. You don’t clean your iron
Any product you apply to your hair, such as heat protectants, residue from keratin shampoos and not to mention dust etc will eventually build up on your flat iron plates. The cleaner the plates, the better the heat transfer to your hair, clean your plates regularly to keep it in tip-top shape and save you time and effort.
11. BONUS Tip!
A flat iron is just that, an iron you can use it on collars, ribbons, craft supplies and more! For this stuff your flat iron is perfect and provides a better level of control than your clothes iron.