Straightening your hair with a flat iron can help make it look super-smooth—it’s no wonder it’s the go-to heat tool of so many women. In fact, straight hair has been a beloved beauty look for centuries! Of course, overdoing it with any heat tool can lead to damage, so you’re going to want to exercise caution when it comes to using your flat iron. Your technique—and the hair styling products you use—are important as well. Want to take your hair straightening game to the next level? Below, we’re setting the record straight on how to use a flat iron the right way. So, the next time you go to use yours, remember to follow these flat iron-focused beauty tips!
FLAT IRON TIP #1: USE SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER FOR STRAIGHT HAIR
Start your hair straightening routine in the shower and replace your standard shampoo and conditioner with ones for straight hair. While it’s true that hair care systems meant for straight hair won’t instantly provide you with sleek, straight hair, á la a flat iron, they’re perfect for prepping your hair for straightening.
FLAT IRON TIP #2: SPRITZ ON A HEAT PROTECTANT SPRAY PRIOR TO STYLING
One of the golden rules of hair care is to protect your locks from heat. And that means limiting exposure to all hot tools like blow-dryers and curling wands. But what about when you really want that oh-so-sleek look that only a flat iron can provide? Well, just remember to use a heat protectant spray or lotion beforehand to help provide hair with some protection against high temps. The L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle SLEEK IT Iron Straight Heatspray offers protection for up to 450 degrees and can be used on damp or dry hair prior to heat styling.
FLAT IRON TIP #3: ONLY STRAIGHTEN DRY HAIR
While it might be tempting to speed up the straightening process by starting on hair that’s still slightly wet, this is definitely a hair care no-no. Your hair is at its most fragile when its wet, so wait until it’s completely dry before you get to straightening. Another option: Once your hair is about halfway dry, blow-dry it the rest of the way, then flat iron. If you go that route, just be sure to use a heat protectant first!
FLAT IRON TIP #4: SEPARATE YOUR HAIR INTO SECTIONS
For the best results, separate your hair into different layers while you style. Use a clip to hold the upper layer out of your way, and straighten the hair that’s left down first. Slowly release sections of hair from the clip and use the iron on one section at a time until all strands are straight.
FLAT IRON TIP #5: CONSIDER DIFFERENT SIZES
Not all flat irons are the same. While the standard size for flat iron plates is 1 inch, depending on your hair length, you may need a different size. Generally, if your hair is on the shorter side, you should be using a smaller flat iron. If your hair is longer, a flat iron with bigger plates will be better.
FLAT IRON TIP #6: DON’T TURN UP THE TEMPERATURE
Don’t assume that the hotter your flat iron gets, the straighter your hair will be. By cranking the temperature up too high you may actually be causing unnecessary damage. Instead of immediately putting heat tools on the hottest setting, start off using them on one of the lowest temperatures. If you think your hair requires more heat, you can gradually turn up the temperature.
FLAT IRON TIP #7: MAKE EACH PASS COUNT
Slow and steady! When using a straightener, don’t focus on speed. Rather, pay attention to going over each section of hair as few times as possible. Pull the tool through your hair slowly, allowing the heat to work out any twists and curls with a single pass. Repeatedly straightening the same section over and over again can cause damage.
FLAT IRON TIP #8: CREATE VOLUME AT YOUR ROOTS
Despite the name, flat iron, your hair doesn’t need to be totally flat after straightening. Rather, with the right technique, you can have voluminous, straight strands. To keep your locks from looking lank, create volume at your roots. Don’t worry, it’s easy! When you get to the top layer of hair, straighten each section upwards, pulling the flat iron towards the ceiling. And that’s all there is to it, switching the direction you move the flat iron in is the trick to a voluminous ‘do.
FLAT IRON TIP #9: USE IT TO MAKE WAVES, TOO
Contrary to the name, flat irons aren’t only good for flattening. You can use the same tool for creating soft wavy hair or bouncy curls. To add shape and body to your look, start by placing a piece of hair in between the iron’s plates. Bear down on the section and start turning the straightener away from your face, making your hair flow over the iron. Pull the iron through your hair, continuing to hold down to create a curvaceous curl. Repeat!
FLAT IRON TIP #10: FINISH WITH A SERUM
Complete all your straightening efforts with a finishing product. Once you’re done with your flat iron, work a hair serum through your tresses to help keep your mane smooth. Try the L’Oréal Paris EverSleek Frizz Finish Oil-In-Serum, which helps to tame frizzy hair and flyaways and smooth each strand. It also provides a silky finish and luminous shine, making it the perfect way to complete your look.
FLAT IRON TIP #11: CLEAN THE PLATES REGULARLY
Ironing your hair with product in it can cause build up on the plates, making the tool less effective over time. Your straightening solution: Use a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol to help gently sweep away dirt and grime from unheated plates. A quick cleanup and your iron should work as good as new!
FLAT IRON TIP #12: PUT IT AWAY COOL
Allow your heat tools to cool down before placing them in their designated spot. This ensures the iron won’t melt or singe anything by accident. Once it’s no longer warm, wrap the cord around the body and store safely until the next time you’re ready to use it.
Editor’s tip: If you’ve ever found yourself traveling with your flat iron, without time to let it cool down before packing up, you’ll want to invest in a flat iron case. The protective cases, with heat resistant liners, will keep your luggage safe while the heat tool is still hot.
Want to be a curling iron pro, too? Here’s How to Use a Curling Iron.