Love a straight, sleek look? Tired of dealing with straightening sessions that make your hair frizz back up within a matter of hours or even minutes? Whether you have curly, wavy, or kinky hair, or even straight hair that you really want to make bone straight, here’s a simple guide on how to straighten hair that’ll guarantee you those results you’re looking for.
Before you start straightening hair, you will need:
- A wide-tooth comb
- A fine-tooth comb
- Heat protectant spray, creams or serums.
- Leave-in conditioner
- Blow dryer
- Flat iron – Hair Straightener or other hair tools
- Oil of your choice (optional)
Hair products labeled “smoothing” could help your hair strands by providing moisture and make hair easier to straighten. Now that you’ve got everything you need to start the process, let’s go on to step one!
Wash, condition and deep condition your hair well
You don’t have to wash your hair on the same day that you straighten it, but a day before it is ideal. Straightening produces the best results when it’s done on clean hair. Clean your hair as you usually do, whether you shampoo or co-wash.
If you’re shampooing, it’s best that you use a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo on your hair. Normal sulfate shampoos strip the hair of too much of its natural oils, leaving it dry, tangled and damaged, prone to heat damage. Make sure you clean your hair well, leaving no traces of dirt or product residue behind.
Condition with a great rinse-out conditioner. Ones with silicone are great to begin the process of protecting your hair from the heat of the hair straightener. Optional, but a great tip: comb your hair out when it’s covered in conditioner or deep conditioner. It’ll make the process a lot smoother, but you can also do it later on, if you wish.
It’s also recommended that you deep condition your hair. Adding moisture before blow-drying is crucial to great results, so slather on that deep conditioner or mask and sit under a hooded dryer for about fifteen minutes.
Protein is especially important before and after using heat, as heat destroys protein in the hair. Use a medium to heavy protein treatment about a week before straightening your hair to up your hair’s defenses.
When you’re done, dry your hair. Here’s a tip: using an old t-shirt works really well and leaves you frizz-free! Just wrap the t-shirt around your hair and secure it, leaving it for about fifteen minutes to ensure that most of the water has been soaked up.
After you take your hair out of the t-shirt, it’ll still be damp. At this point, you can go on to the next step.
Add leave-in conditioner and heat protectant to your hair
Leave-ins are great for providing moisture and slip to the hair for styling ease. Add your favorite leave-in conditioner to your hair. Concentrate on the ends of your hair, because as we know, these are the oldest and the most susceptible to drying out.
When you’re done, use a high-quality heat protectant spray to coat your hair. It’s better to work in sections so that you can make sure that all of your hair is adequately protected.
Here’s what you can do: divide your hair in half, then each half into two. If your hair is thick or kinky, you may need to divide it into even smaller sections, but for fine-haired girls, this should be enough.
Holding the heat spray about five inches from your head, spray each section until it’s covered. It shouldn’t be dripping with heat protectant, but you should be sure that it’s fully covered with the spray. Then, move on to the next step.
Comb out your hair with a wide-tooth comb
To avoid mess and tangles later on, it’s best to comb out your hair now, when it’s damp and has product in it. Taking your wide-tooth comb, start at the ends of your hair and work your way up.
It’s a common mistake to start at the roots and come down, but when you do this, you’re pulling all the tangles down your hair strands and creating more tangles and knots.
When you start at the bottom, you can attack tangles as you encounter them, and prevent damage and snagging. Don’t comb big sections at a time, especially if your hair is curly or kinky, instead, take medium-sized sections and tackle them gently.
If you combed out your hair in the shower, you’ll only need to run through it briefly again at this step. Make sure that no knots or tangles are left in your hair – this will only cause stress when blow-drying!
Apply serum or a natural oil to your hair
Serums are great for giving your hair shine and smoothness. It’s crucial to apply it before you blow dry and not after, so that the product can be pressed into the hair by the heat from the blow-dryer rather than just placed on top of the follicles to give you a weighed down, greasy look.
You don’t need much – a dot of serum per quadrant of your hair is perfect for fine or straight hair. For thicker haired girls, two drops may be necessary to fully coat your strands.
You can also choose to apply oil instead of a serum at this step. If you like more natural, organic products, olive oil or coconut oil is a really good choice for a serum replacement. But the same goes – don’t put too much, or you can reap greasy and limp flat ironing results. When your serum or oil has been applied, you can move on to the blow-drying step.
Blow-dry on cool or medium heat
Don’t blow-dry completely dry hair. It’s best for your hair to be not wet, but not all the way dry either. Damp hair works best for blow drying. If your hair is straight, you may not need to section it. But for thicker-haired, curly-haired or natural girls, this is extremely necessary to avoid tangling and general chaos!
Section your hair similar to the way you sectioned it to apply the heat protectant, using clamps or bobby pins to secure the different sections. It’s a lot easier to start at the back and work your way forward, so try this and see if it works for you.
When blow drying, don’t overkill your hair by going over already-dry pieces of hair too much. This will increase your risk of damage. Instead, use slow, steady passes on cool air or medium heat to dry your hair.
For curly and kinky hair, you may want your hair stretched as straight as possible before you straighten. This is okay, but if you’re using high or even medium heat, you should do no more than 7 passes on a section!
When the whole of your hair is dry and/or stretched as you want it, head on to the final step – straightening.
Which hair tool to straighten your hair
A lot you that you can choose from
- A straightener
- 2-way rotating iron
- Straightening brush/comb
Straighten your hair
You can choose to section your hair into small sections again, or you can leave it as one blown-out section and take pieces from it as you straighten. Just do what works and is convenient and easy for you.
Your hair straightener should be a quality straightener with clean plates, good heat conducting technology and multiple heat settings. With more heat settings, you have more control on how much heat you put on your hair.
For fine-haired girls, either straight or kinky, less heat is better for your strands, and you won’t need as much to get your tresses straight. Anywhere from 250F to 300F is perfect for you if you have fine hair or even if it’s damaged. For healthy hair of average thickness, anywhere around 350F and a bit higher can bring you great results.
For coarse-haired girls, though, you may need a bit more heat – but make sure that your hair can take it first! If your hair looks fried and limp after one pass, lower the heat. 380F to 410F gives you great results.
If your iron is perfect for the job and you’ve selected your ideal heat setting, go on and straighten your hair! Take small sections at a time, of about two inches in width and an inch and a half max in thickness. Clamp the hair straightening flat iron tightly at the root of the section, holding it for about two seconds, and then drag it slowly down the length of the section.
You can even use your fine-tooth comb to do the ‘chase method:’ hold the comb in front of the flat iron as you drag it down the section. It detangles and smoothes at the same time, giving you sleek results.
Don’t pass over a section more than three times max, and don’t hold the flat iron on the section too long. Doing this increases your risk of heat damage. After you’ve done that section, release it and move on to the others, following the same process.
Voila! You’re done! When you’ve done all your sections, you should be left with perfectly straight, shiny and smooth tresses that have body and movement.
The ‘don’ts’ of hair straightening!
There are a few things that you should never, ever do when straightening your hair. You’ll only end up damaging your hair or achieving less than perfect results!
- Don’t blow-dry or straighten wet hair – this causes breakage and damage.
- Don’t blow-dry or straighten dirty hair – this gives you limp, greasy results
- Don’t skip the conditioning step – conditioner deposit coating agents that help protect and soften your hair
- Don’t skimp on the protein – protein defends your hair from heat damage and moisture loss
- Don’t skip the heat protectant – ever!
- Don’t blow-dry or straighten tangled hair – it’s a recipe for disaster
- Don’t use too much heat on one section
- Don’t straighten damaged hair. If your hair is already very damaged, let’s face it – it isn’t worth it. Work on the health of your hair before applying heat to it, as heat only makes damage 10 times worse.
Once you follow these steps as directed and make sure to steer clear of these ‘don’ts,’ you’re sure to have an easy and impressive straightening process!